Two years after Joel Hollendorfer allegedly strangled aspiring model and escorted Kara Nichols in Colorado, he confessed to the crime to his wife and told her he buried the body on his parents’ ranch. whether the new court announced said.
Kristina Hollendorfer kept that secret for eight years — until investigators wiped cold case files, tracked her to Virginia, and knocked on her door.
Now known as Kristina Palmer, she told detectives about the night in 2014 when her then-husband asked her to hang out in his new truck and unload herself.
“She involved Joel telling her he hired an escort and while having sex in her car he accidentally strangled her until she died,” Police said in an affidavit for Hollendorfer’s arrest.
“Joel then drove her to his parents’ property, where he buried her in an old horse grave with plastic bags and lime. Kristina had no idea that Joel had ever moved his body. “
She also told detectives that Hollendorfer said he told his parents what he had done and that he believes it sent his father to the grave.
Based on Kristina’s statement, police obtained a warrant to search Hollendorfer’s property in Colorado Springs and focused on where his mother said her favorite horse, Milo, was buried.
Three feet down, they found a trash bag, a human hand and many other remains. Hollendorfer, 46, was arrested a few days later on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence – ending a decades-long mystery.
The affidavit shows how close the police came to solving that mystery years earlier — if only they had dug deeper.
After Nichols’ father reported the 19-year-old’s disappearance in October 2012, police learned she was working as an escort and placed an ad for “a new sexy blonde coming in.” town” on a classifieds website.
In 2013, investigators obtained records on the cell phone number Nichols had listed and found a series of eight contacts with one number shortly before her disappearance.
Police called and left messages, and Joel Hollendorfer called back. His story is that he sought out an escort that night – he told police he was addicted to drugs and prostitution back then – and spoke to Nichols but did not meet her.
Other suggested evidence. Detectives used cell phone ping to find out where Nichols was the night she spoke to Hollendorfer, and the path leading to near his family’s property.
It is October 2014, and cadaver dogs have been brought to the property and ground-penetrating radar is used to identify the disturbed spots. According to the affidavit, Hollendorfer’s mother, Betty, walked with investigators around the property and pointed out places where she said the horses had been buried for more than three decades.
For reasons not explained in the affidavit, none of it was excavated.
Instead, police went to a nearby property that Betty said her son had approached, where dogs dissected what looked like the site of a shallow grave. “However, no human remains were found,” the document said.
It is unclear whether police believe Nichols was originally buried in that location and then moved to a horse grave.
There was one person who could have told them – Kristina – but according to the affidavit, she never answered the detective’s calls.
The Nichols family has long maintained that the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department botched the initial investigation; The sheriff was discharged from office for alleged misconduct in 2014.
“When my daughter went missing, the department seemed to be in complete disarray,” Julia Nichols told The Denver Channel in 2016. “That leads us to think that very little has been done in her case, even though they have given lip services to work hard to resolve my daughter’s disappearance.”