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[Updated] Police investigate homicide, suspect arrested for first degree murder

Released on Friday, February 12, 2021
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Updated information is available about the February 6 homicide investigation, and an additional person has been arrested in connection with this incident.

On February 6, Fort Collins 911 received a report that an unconscious, injured woman had been discovered in an apartment parking lot. The woman was transported to an area hospital where she died as a result of her injuries. The Larimer County Coroner’s Office identified her as Danielle Hopton, 18, of Fort Collins and ruled her death a homicide.

Through further investigation, detectives learned that a group of friends had been socializing that evening, including Hopton, Stephen McNeil, and Ian Rayas. Several of the people eventually drove to an apartment complex at 525 E. Drake Road and parked to hang out. Hopton and McNeil, who had previously been in a relationship, got out of the vehicle to talk and the assault occurred. McNeil left the scene, and a member of the group called 911.

Police responded and immediately began working to determine what happened and who had been involved. McNeil was eventually identified as the suspect and arrested on February 7.

At the scene and throughout the investigation, Rayas repeatedly denied knowing either party and maintained that he had no information about what caused Hopton’s life-threatening injuries. After receiving evidence to the contrary, police arrested Rayas on February 11. He was booked into the Larimer County Jail on charges of Attempt to Influence a Public Servant (class 4 felony) and Accessory to a Crime (class 4 felony).

“Domestic violence happens all too frequently, and it affects people of all ages in many communities,” said Sgt. Heather Moore, who leads the Crimes Against Persons Unit. “If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse, please reach out. We have resources in our community to help end the cycle of violence.”

Crossroads Safehouse is a local organization that provides services and support for individuals and families, including emergency housing, advocacy, legal assistance, and crisis intervention. To learn more, visit https://crossroadssafehouse.org/ or call 970-482-3502.

Anyone with information about this incident, who has not already spoken to police, is asked to call Corporal Tessa Jakobsson at 970-221-6575. People who wish to remain anonymous may also contact Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868 or www.stopcriminals.org.

All charges are simply an accusation by law enforcement officers, and any arrested party must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

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[Februrary 7, 2021]

On February 6, 2021 at 11:03 p.m., Fort Collins Police received a report of an unconscious, injured woman in the parking lot of 525 East Drake Road. When police arrived, they located the adult female victim with life-threatening injuries consistent with an assault. She was transported to an area hospital where she died as a result of her injuries.

Through the course of the investigation, Stephen McNeil (DOB 09/16/2000) was identified as the suspect. He and the victim knew each other. Police located McNeil at noon on February 7 and took him into custody without incident. He was booked into the Larimer County Jail on charges of First Degree Murder (class 1 felony), Domestic Violence, Violation of a Protection Order, and Violation of Bail Bond Conditions.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim,” said Investigations Lieutenant Jeremy Yonce. “This heinous act of violence took a woman’s life and forever changed the lives of her loved ones. We will continue working diligently to support her family and seek justice.”

The Larimer County Coroner will release the identity of the woman, as well as her cause and manner of death, a later time.

Anyone with information about this incident, who has not already spoken to police, is asked to call Corporal Tessa Jakobsson at 970-221-6575. People who wish to remain anonymous may also contact Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868 or www.stopcriminals.org.

All charges are simply an accusation by law enforcement officers, and any arrested party must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.