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Suspects in rock-throwing spree became ‘blood brothers’ after fatal attack: police

Click to play video: '3 Colorado teens charged with murder in rock-throwing spree that killed 20-year-old'
3 Colorado teens charged with murder in rock-throwing spree that killed 20-year-old
Three Colorado 18-year-olds are facing murder charges after being accused of throwing a landscaping rock through the windshield of a moving car that killed 20-year-old Alexa Bartell – Apr 27, 2023

Grim new details about the death of 20-year-old Alexa Bartell have emerged after police released arrest affidavits on Thursday, which include interviews with two of the three 18-year-old suspects who were booked for her murder.

The affidavits revealed that one of the suspects snapped a photo of Bartell’s crashed car as a “memento,” after the group allegedly hurled a large rock through her windshield, killing her. Investigators noted that she died from the blow of the rock and not the subsequent crash.

The three suspects, Joseph Koenig, Nicholas (Mitch) Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, all 12th graders from Jefferson County public schools, near Denver, were arrested at their homes overnight on Tuesday. They were each charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference to human life and are alleged to have thrown rocks at six other cars on April 19, the night Bartell died.

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Alexa Bartell, 20, was driving in Jefferson County when her car was struck by a large rock, the authorities said.
Alexa Bartell, 20, was driving in Jefferson County when her car was struck by a large rock, the authorities said. Handout / Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

After taking the photo of Bartell’s car, Koenig and Karol-Chik allegedly talked about being “blood brothers,” and promised to “never speak of this incident again,” according to the affidavits. All three are being held without bail.

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On the night she was killed, Bartell was on the phone with friend Jenna Griggs when the 20-year-old suddenly went quiet on the line, police learned. Griggs used the Find My iPhone feature to track down Bartell’s car on a stretch of road between Denver and Boulder, Colo.

Griggs found her motionless inside her Chevrolet Spark with a severe head injury. She called Bartell’s mother, then dialled 911. When police arrived, they found “blood all over” the driver’s side door and a “pool of blood in her lap,” the affidavits read.

Bartell was pronounced dead at the scene. One police officer who looked for a pulse noted her arm was “cold to the touch.”

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Investigators found a large “landscaping rock” at the side of the road where Bartell was struck.

Cellphone data from nearby towers led investigators to Koenig and his mother, police wrote. Another breakthrough came when police spoke to one of Koenig’s friends, Joseph Bopp, 20, who said he was with the three suspects on the night Bartell was killed.

He told investigators that the 18-year-olds were outside a Walmart “picking up landscaping rocks from the edge of the parking lot and putting them in the back seat” of Karol-Chik’s truck.

“Joseph states that he knew something bad was going to happen, so he insisted they take him home, which they did,” the documents read.

Bopp also told investigators that Koenig often engaged in “destructive behaviour” and liked “causing ‘chaos.'”

Karol-Chik told police that “all three of them threw rocks at moving cars” that night while driving in his truck, but Kwak threw the stone that struck and killed Bartell.

Kwak allegedly told the group that they should turn around and check out Bartell’s crashed car.

“Joe (Koenig) slowed the vehicle so that Zach (Kwak) could take a photo of it. Mitch (Karol-Chik) noted that he felt ‘a hint of guilt,'” the documents read.

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Kwak initially told police he couldn’t remember what happened the night Bartell died, but started talking once he learned of Karol-Chik’s account of the incident. He said he snapped the picture of the grisly scene because he thought the others “would want it as a memento.”

He said the other two teens “were talking about them now being ‘blood brothers’ and they could never speak of this incident.”

He also claims that Koenig met up with him the day after the alleged murder and “tried to get their stories straight” in case they were questioned.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has not revealed the motivation behind the rock-throwing spree.

Karol-Chik alleged that he and Koenig had “been involved in throwing objects since at least February on ten separate days.”

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