Danielle Hopton Fort Collins Colorado teenager beaten to death by her ex boyfriend Stephen McNeil in a parking lot in domestic violence case. Second person also arrested.
A 20 year old Colorado man has been accused of fatally beating his former 18-year-old girlfriend in a parking lot earlier this month.
Danielle Hopton was found unconscious ‘with life-threatening injuries consistent with an assault’ in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Fort Collins on Feb. 6, according to Fort Collins police.
The animal shelter volunteer was taken to a local hospital where she died of her injuries. Her death was ruled a homicide. Cops didn’t elaborate what kind of injuries Hopton sustained.
Police later arrested her ex-boyfriend Stephen McNeil, 20, over the slaying. Another suspect Ian Rayas, 20, of Timnath, was also taken into custody in connection with the killing.
A police investigation revealed Hopton was with the men the night of her murder. The group drove to the parking lot of the apartment complex and parked there to hang out, the Denver Channel reported.
Previous arrest for violation of order of protection
At some point, Hopton and McNeil got out of the car to talk and then the assault occurred. The ex fled the scene, ‘and a member of the group called 911,’ according to police.
McNeil is charged with first-degree murder, domestic violence, violation of a protection order and violation of bail bond conditions. Fort Collins Police added that Ian Rayas was also arrested on February 11 and charged with attempting to influence a public servant and accessory to a crime, two felonies.
Rayas was arrested because he ‘repeatedly denied knowing either party and maintained that he had no information about what caused Hopton’s life-threatening injuries,’ Fort Collins Police said.
A search of online criminal records revealed McNeil was arrested in mid-December for a felony assault that involved strangulation. He was also arrested in January was for misdemeanor criminal mischief.
McNeil bonded out of jail Jan. 22 via cash bonds totaling $2,650.
Hopton was described as an animal lover who ‘genuinely cared about others.’
‘Danielle loved spending her time volunteering at the animal shelter, and helping her dad raise guide dog puppies,’ according to a GoFundMe page set up for her family.
‘She was such a selfless and caring person.’
All money raised by the Hopton’s GoFundMe is said to be split equally between Guide Dogs for the Blind, Larimer Animal Shelter, and Crossroads Safehouse.
Hopton had just graduated with an academic award from Fossil Ridge High School in 2020, where she was also involved in track, football and literature, according to CBS4.
Not immediately clear is how the former couple came to meet on the evening of her beating death, to what degree they continued communications, and what ultimately led to the ex boyfriend taking his ex girlfriend’s life.