The three Colorado teenagers accused of hurling a rock through a window of a 20-year-old driver that killed her, returned to the crash scene to take a photo of the victim's vehicle as a memento and they drove off, police said on Thursday. Before fleeing the scene, the three also pledged a 'blood brothers' oath to keep quiet about the crime.
Alexa Bartell was killed last Wednesday night in Arvada when Joseph Koenig, Nicholas "Mitch" Karol-Chik, and Zachary Kwak allegedly hurled a large landscaping rock through her car's windshield during a twister rock-throwing spree, according to police. Bartell lost control and crashed her car into a field and died on the scene.
Nicholas "Mitch" Karol-Chik, Joseph Koenig and Zachary Kwak, all 18, have all been booked on suspicion of murder. According to the claims attached to the arrest warrant, Bartell was killed on a desolate section of Indiana Street in Jefferson County, halfway between Denver and Boulder.
The three teens threw a rock through Bartell's windshield. She immediately lost control and crashed her car and died on the scene. The three, Karol-Chik, Koenig and Kwak fled the scene, only to return after a while to take a photo of the crashed vehicle as a memento.
Kwak allegedly urged the others, "We have to go back and see that," according to an arrest document.
After they returned, Kwak took a photo of the vehicle on camera as a "memento."
According to Kwak, as the teenagers were driving home, Koenig and Karol-Chik discussed how the three were now "blood brothers" and couldn't ever talk about what had happened.
Kwak and Koenig met the following day to "get their stories straight," as stated in the affidavit.
The trio, who are all high school seniors and are all 18 years old, had their initial court appearance on Thursday.
They are being charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference, and more charges are expected to be brought later.
They are to be held without bond, a judge ordered, according to KDVR.
Murder, Not Accident
Bartell was speaking to a friend Jenna Griggs on the phone around 10:45 pm on April 19 when the driver abruptly stopped speaking, according to an affidavit by Jefferson County sheriff's investigator Daniel Manka.
According to the complaint, Griggs used the Find My iPhone feature found Bartell's vehicle and her friend inside, who had "sustained a significant injury to her head and was not moving."
Bartell was killed by the rock and not the crash, the sheriff's office said.
The affidavit stated that Griggs had contacted both 911 and Bartell's mother before a Broomfield police officer arrived and found that the victim's arm was "cold to the touch."
The affidavit stated that investigators found "biological matter" inside the vehicle as well as a sizable "'river rock' landscaping rock" by the side of the road that was covered in blood.
Koenig was the one who allegedly threw the rock that killed Bartell, Karol-Chik told investigators.
When the rock smashed through her windshield, Kwak told authorities it sounded like a "rail gun" shooting concrete.
According to authorities, the three are accused of carrying out a number of other rock attacks on motorists the same night that Bartell was slain. That evening, a number of other drivers also reported that stones had been thrown at their vehicles around the same time that Bartell was struck and killed.
Sheriff's investigators secured phone data pinging off four nearby towers and found one that had " passed in the area of the death of the victim at the same time that the victim, Alexa, stopped talking," according to records.
The investigation also made a significant breakthrough when officers located Koenig's friend Joseph Bopp, 20, who claimed to have been present at a Walmart on April 19 with the three suspects.
According to the affidavit, Bopp claimed that's when he saw the three 18-year-olds "picking up landscaping rocks from the edge of the parking 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," according to court documents.
Karol-Chik told the detectives that Kwak threw the stone that struck Bartell before Koenig turned the truck around to take a closer look at the damage.