COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The two people found dead in a car south of Fountain Tuesday night were teenagers who died in a murder-suicide, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The victims’ bodies were found around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday inside a car off Interstate 25 near the Ray Nixon exit south of Fountain.
3 p.m. investigation update from Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock:
Deputies said one of the victims, a 17-year-old girl, had been reported missing Tuesday afternoon. Spurlock said by request of her family, investigators are not releasing her name.
The sheriff’s office said the girl was a student at Mile High Academy in Highlands Ranch. Around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, she left school and got into a car with the other teen, 18-year-old Samuel Hoffman. Hoffman drove into an adjacent parking lot off school property where he murdered her, according to investigators.
Investigators said it appears the girl willingly got into the car with Hoffman. Spurlock said the girl and Hoffman had been friends “over a period of years.”
The girl was reported missing around 3:30 p.m., according to Spurlock. Officers from multiple agencies across Denver and Colorado Springs joined the search.
“We had information that the suspect had shared on social media his (Hoffman’s) concern with his behavior with the victim,” said Spurlock.
Around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, officers found Hoffman’s car off Interstate 25 south of Fountain, with the help of cell phone pings. As they approached, they heard a single gunshot come from the car, according to Spurlock. They believe Hoffman died of that self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Investigators found the girl’s body in the back seat of the car, according to Spurlock. The coroner’s office is still working to determine how the girl died. Investigators are also working to determine why Hoffman traveled south on Interstate 25.
Spurlock said Hoffman was a former Littleton High School student who had been expelled in November and had not returned.
“He had been expelled from school in November for a number of events–a domestic violence case that was under investigation, and a mental health hold investigation as well,” Spurlock said.
Spurlock said the 17-year-old victim was not involved in the November domestic violence case.
Spurlock said the sheriff’s office shared information with the district regarding the mental health hold.
“This is a horrible tragedy that happened to two very young people in our community,” Spurlock said. “I always continue to urge folks that are in the mental health crisis and people that know about that to call. There are a number of places that can be notified in the state of Colorado, to include school districts as well as law enforcement, and our wish is that those things can be reported as soon as possible, so we have the opportunity to intervene in a tragedy like this.”
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation in conjunction with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, El Paso County Coroner’s Office, Fountain Police Department, and Colorado State Patrol.
This is a developing story. Stay with FOX21 News for the latest.