February 17, 2022:
Joel Hollendorfer went before a judge on February 17, 2022. Prior to the hearing, he’d been charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, and his bond had been set at $1 million.
The District Attorney’s Office has upgraded Hollendorfer’s murder charge to first-degree murder, and the judge has revoked bail, meaning he will remain in custody until further notice. After reviewing the evidence, the judge will make a decision about whether bond will be reinstated.
Hollendorfer will be back in court on February 23, 2022.
February 11, 2022:
More details have been released regarding the discovery of Kara Nichols’ remains and the arrest of Joel Hollendorfer on second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence charges.
Following the positive identification of the remains, Hollendorfer’s arrest affidavit was released, in which it states Kara’s body had been placed in a garbage bag and buried three feet below the ground, atop a horse grave on the farm owned by Hollendorfer’s parents.
In 2014, cadaver dogs were brought to the property and indicated a number of spots that were never excavated, as Hollendorfer’s mother, Betty, had told police the family’s pets and animals had been buried there.
The affidavit also alleges Kara’s cellphone records show several text messages were exchanged between the pair, in which they discussed meeting up for sex. At the time of her disappearance, she was an aspiring model who was working as an escort to make ends meet. Hollendorfer admitted to talking to Nichols, but denied ever meeting up. However, Kara’s cellphone pinged in the area of Burgess Road – specifically, 9665 Burgess Road – where Hollendorfer lived with his parents.
Detectives interviewed his ex-wife, Kristina, in January 2022. During the interview, she told them that Hollendorfer had told her he’d “hired an escort and during sex with her in his car, he accidentally strangled her until she died”. She alleged he then took Kara’s body to his parents’ farm, “where he buried her [in] an old horse grave with plastic bags and lime”. She also said he’d told his parents about the crime and they’d helped him cover it up.
Hollendorfer was arrested on February 7, 2022 on unrelated warrants. He remains in custody on $1 million bond and will appear in court next week, where it’s anticipated he’ll be asked to enter a plea.
February 9, 2022:
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in the disappearance and presumed murder of 19-year-old Kara Nichols. The Colorado Springs native was last seen in the 6700 block of Mission Road in El Paso County on October 9, 2012.
In a press release, the sheriff’s office announced it had located female human remains that have been tentatively identified by the El Paso County Coroner’s Office as Nichols. As a result, 46-year-old Joel Hollendorfer has been arrested and charged with one count of second-degree murder and one of tampering with physical evidence.
The details surrounding his arrest or how Nichols died have not been publicly disclosed. Hollendorfer is expected to make his first court appearance on February 17, 2022.
On the day she went missing, Kara had told a roommate a friend was picking her up to take her to a modelling gig. Over the next two days, her brother tried to get in contact with her, to no avail, prompting him to report her missing to authorities.
According to the media release, a cold case review was conducted on Kara’s case in mid-January 2022, which led to a witness being located and interviewed. The information gained resulted in a search warrant being obtained for an area in the 9600 block of Burgess Street in El Paso County, where the remains were later located.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Investigations Tip Line at 719-520-6666.
Stories of the Unsolved will update this post as more details emerge.
Photo Credit: Canon City Daily Record