3 teens arrested in connection to death of Colorado woman killed by rock thrown at car

Three teenagers are now facing murder charges in connection with what Denver-area law enforcement are calling a rock spree homicide.
Published: Apr. 22, 2023 at 10:44 AM MDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 4:37 PM MDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Three teenagers are now facing murder charges in connection with what Denver-area law enforcement are calling a rock spree homicide.

Investigators say Joseph Koenig, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, are accused of throwing large landscaping rocks at several vehicles in Boulder and Jefferson counties on the night of April 19. The last vehicle in the series struck that night was driven by 20-year-old Alexa Bartell, who was killed.

Bartell was on the phone with a friend while driving near the 10600 block of Indiana Street Wednesday night when the phone went silent. The friend tracked Bartell’s phone and found her fatally wounded in her car in a field off the roadway.

“The sheriff’s office is incredibly grateful this morning to report we have three suspects in custody this morning,” said Jacki Kelley, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspects were all taken into custody at their homes in Arvada -- the same community Bartell is from. Authorities said in a news conference that all are 18 and all are seniors in high school. Capturing them was aided tremendously by the public, who sent in more than 300 tips.

“This really came as a result of cell phone device forensics and then supporting information from our public. It was a lot of work from our investigators. Literally some of our investigators have had little sleep over the last week, in incredible pursuit ... this information led them to them,” Kelley said.

She declined to elaborate further on how the teens were identified, but said the sheriff’s office was “very solid” on the information that led to the suspects.

From left: Nicholas Karol-Chik, Zachary Kwak and Joseph Koenig
From left: Nicholas Karol-Chik, Zachary Kwak and Joseph Koenig(Jefferson County Sheriff's Office)

Investigators are still trying to determine who was driving during the spree but say all three are suspected of throwing the rocks and are facing charges of first-degree murder with extreme indifference. Additional charges are expected.

The big question on the community’s mind: why?

“We have not seen any evidence this is related to a TikTok challenge at all. We’ve been asked that question through the weekend; there’s no evidence to support that. ... These suspects went from place to place to place to place throwing large rocks through windshields of vehicles. We have not seen this before,” Kelley said.

In all, seven vehicles were hit by rocks. Of those seven, Bartell was killed and two people were hurt.

Kelley said detectives were grateful to have the suspects off the streets, as there were very real concerns of the spree starting up again.

But most of all, for the sake of the two injured victims and Bartell’s family.

“This case touched a lot of people deeply. This was a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her, who was simply driving home. Her life was ended as a result of these acts.”