Arrest made after remains of teen found 10 years after she went missing

Posted at 4:44 PM, February 9, 2022 and last updated 7:19 AM, June 14, 2023

By: Caitlin Sullivan

COLORADO SPRINGS (KOAA) — Police believe they found the remains of 19-year-old aspiring model, Kara Nichols, nearly 10 years after she went missing.

Nichols, who attempted to spark her modeling career at age 19, told her friends she would be traveling from Colorado Springs to Denver for a photoshoot in 2012 on Oct. 9. She wouldn’t be seen again.

On Feb. 8, 2022 the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they had found the body of 19-year-old Kara Nichols who went missing in 2012. (KOAA)

“A witness was located and interviewed. There was critical information given in that interview which provided a significant new lead,” said Sheriff Bill Elder.

Her body was found off of Burgess Road in Black Forest, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also on the scene.

Police have arrested 46-year-old Joel Hollendorfer in connection with Nichols’ murder. He is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. Hollendorfer is being held on a $50,000 bond.

Joel Hollendorfer (El Paso County Sheriff’s Office)

“There have been hundreds of hours worked on this case, dozens of search warrants executed, and numerous leads which have come in over the duration of this case spanning across the United States and Europe,” said Elder.

In 2016, four years after her disappearance, the family got new tips about their daughter. Michelle Bart, president of National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVE), said those tips had led Nichols’ family to believe their daughter had died.

The NWCAVE has been involved with this case and the Nichols family since soon after the teen’s disappearance.

This story was originally published Feb. 8, 2022, by KOAA in Colorado Springs, an E.W. Scripps Company.