Danielle Hopton

Suspect in beating death of ‘always smiling’ Colorado teen who helped train service dogs is victim’s former boyfriend, violated restraining order: Police

One of the suspects in the beating death of an 18-year-old Colorado woman is reportedly her ex-boyfriend, who had been the subject of a restraining order.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Danielle Hopton died on February 6 after she was allegedly beaten in a parking lot outside an apartment complex in Fort Collins following a social gathering.

Investigators have reportedly said Hopton was found unresponsive “with life-threatening injuries consistent with an assault,” and was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Police have released few details about the circumstances of Hopton’s death, but have since arrested Stephen McNeil and Ian Rayas, both 20, in connection with the apparent homicide.

KIRO 7 reports that McNeil is Hopton’s former boyfriend. In addition to first-degree murder, McNeil is charged with violation of a restraining order and violation of bail bond conditions stemming from previous charges. Authorities have not released information about the previous case or cases, and it is unclear if the bail and restraining order violation charges are connected to Hopton’s murder.

Stephen McNeil/Larimer County Sheriff’s Office

Rayas has been charged with attempting to influence a public servant and accessory to a crime.

“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,” read a Fort Collins police statement obtained by KIRO 7. “After receiving evidence to the contrary, police arrested Rayas on Feb. 11.”

Hopton, who graduated from Fossil Ridge high school in 2020, was an animal volunteer who also helped her father train service dogs for the blind. She is described on a GoFundMe campaign page as a “gorgeous, loving, kind and caring young woman” who was “always smiling.”

Authorities have not yet released details about the injuries that caused Hopton’s death, as the investigation continues.

Anyone with information about Hopton’s murder is urged to contact Cpl. Tessa Jakobsson at 970-221-6575. You can also submit tips anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868 or visiting www.stopcriminals.org.

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[Feature image: Danielle Hopton/GoFundMe]