Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Kara Nichols


Kara Nichols vanished at the age of 19 on October 9th, 2012. The young woman was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During her early teen years, Kara began using drugs, and she struggled with addiction throughout high school. She graduated from a local alternative high school and then got a job as a waitress. Around the same time, Kara began to pursue a career in modeling as well. Unbeknownst to her parents, Kara had also been working as an escort since she was 17 years old. 

During the summer of 2012, Kara's parents moved to Chicago, Illinois. Kara initially moved with them but continued to struggle with drug addiction. She later decided to return to Colorado Springs and ended up moving into a house there with three male roommates. Kara also returned to her previous waitressing job and continued to pursue modeling. She created a Model Mayhem profile to help her network with more agencies and photographers.

It appeared that Kara was getting more and more work as a model. In fact, on the evening of her disappearance, Kara told her roommates that a friend was picking her up and driving her to a modeling job. Unfortunately, she never returned home and was never seen or heard from again. 

Kara is reported missing.

Over the following two days, Kara's brother attempted to contact her several times but was unable to get in touch. On October 12th, 2012, Kara's brother reported her missing--but police initially did not take the case seriously. Kara's brother was told that Kara is an adult and was free to remain out-of-touch. However, Kara's family members knew something was wrong--as it was uncharacteristic for her to not contact them. 

As weeks passed without any sign of Kara, the investigation finally began to progress. It was discovered that Kara's cell phone pinged one final time at 11:45 PM on the evening of her disappearance. The phone appeared to be traveling towards Denver.

Associates & sightings.

In November 2014, investigators announced that they wanted to talk to two brunette women who were seen with Kara on the evening of October 9th. It's believed that both women were associates of Kara's through the modeling/escorting business. 

One of the persons of interest (click to enlarge)

Over the years, there were numerous reported sightings of Kara. Some have reportedly seen her accompanied by a man in the area of Fillmore Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The witnesses stated that Kara appeared frightened of the man. Still, these sightings were never confirmed.

In May 2014, a recording was released of Deputy Sheriff Cliff Porter admitting that he had "cut corners in regards to the investigation" and did not look into certain pieces of evidence in the beginning of the case. Kara's family members grew continually frustrated by the lack of urgency in her case. They subsequently placed a monetary reward for anyone with information about her disappearance in hopes that it would encourage someone to come forward.

Broken silence.

In early 2022, a woman named Kristina Hollendorfer spoke to investigators and implicated her husband, Joel Hollendorfer, as the man responsible for Kara's disappearance.

Investigators interviewed Joel several times throughout their investigation into Kara's disappearance. Phone records showed that Kara and Joel had been in contact several times on the night she vanished. Joel told investigators that he had solicited Kara's escort services, but they never actually met up. 

Police also attempted to speak with Kristina several times throughout the investigation, but she was reportedly uncooperative. However, in 2022, she finally decided to break her silence. She then told investigators that Joel admitted to her that he "accidentally killed an escort he hired and buried her body on top of an old horse grave on his parent's property." On February 3rd, 2022, investigators searched said property and found human remains. Days later, it was confirmed that the remains belonged to Kara Nichols.

Joel Hollendorfer was charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence shortly thereafter.

A conviction.

In June of 2023, Joel Hollendorfer was ultimately found guilty of manslaughter in the case of Kara Nichols. He was not found guilty in the second-degree murder charges, as it is believed that he accidentally killed Kara. However, the court is considering an enhanced sentencing for Hollendorfer, as he is labeled as a habitual offender who has violated his parole on several occasions. 

Arrest affidavit
Court TV
The Gazette
Stories of the Unsolved

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