EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A missing 17-year-old girl from Littleton was found deceased inside a vehicle in El Paso County on Tuesday night, believed to be the victim in a murder-suicide. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said that she was likely murdered shortly after she left school on Tuesday afternoon, something investigators didn’t know at the time.
Spurlock said the incident began in Douglas County on Tuesday afternoon when the victim left school at Mile High Academy in Highlands Ranch. The 17-year-old victim had been reported missing by her family.
As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, seven law enforcement agencies, including the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Littleton Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Colorado State Patrol, along the Front Range from the Denver metro area to Colorado Springs were attempting to locate the two students.
“About 3:15, the victim left school… got into the car with the suspect, drove across the parking lot and into another parking lot, and between 3:15 and 3:30, the suspect murdered the teen,” said Spurlock.
Investigators believe she was killed in a parking lot adjacent to the school’s parking lot but not on school property.
Officers believed they found the vehicle they were searching for about 7:45 p.m. near Interstate 25 near the Ray Nixon exit in Fountain. Fountain is located about 15 miles south of Colorado Springs.
When officers with the Fountain Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol approached the vehicle, they heard a single gunshot from the vehicle. Investigators believe Hoffman died of a self-inflicted gunshot moments after officers made contact with him.
The bodies of the missing teenage female and an 18-year-old male, identified as Samuel Hoffman of Centennial, were found inside the vehicle about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday near the I-25 exit for Fountain. The missing girl’s body was found in the backseat.
Spurlock said the name of the victim has not been released due to requests from the family.
Grief counselors will be at Mile High Academy for students on Thursday.
“Our hearts go out to the families of both of these young people whose lives were lost.” Spurlock said in a statement early Wednesday, “We know this is a difficult time for friends and family, we want you to know that we mourn with you. We will work diligently to find answers for everyone involved.”