Yesterday afternoon, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office made official the worst fears of Ashley Doolittle's friends, family and loved ones.
On Friday, June 10, following reports that Doolittle had gone missing the evening before, Tanner Flores, her former boyfriend, was arrested in unincorporated Mesa County with the body of "a young adult female" in his truck.
The LCSO confirmed that the Mesa County coroner had identified the body as Ashley, an eighteen-year-old from Berthoud.
The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head — and while formal charges have yet to be filed against Flores, he was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping.
As we reported, Doolittle's family was so concerned when she didn't return by a promised 7:30 p.m. on June 9 that they began searching the area for her — and found her unoccupied vehicle near Lon Hagler Reservoir.
Deputies quickly responded and were told that Doolittle had recently broken things off with Flores after a year as an item.
Evidence of their relationship can be found in the gallery of Doolittle's Facebook page, which remains online at this writing.
Included is this photo....
...and the caption, "You know you're lucky when you find someone who makes you happy and get to call them yours."
Flores had also gone missing on the 9th.
He was last seen at about 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, four hours before Doolittle was due to return.
"It was reported that Tanner was upset and distraught over the recent breakup," the sheriff's office release stated, adding, "Investigators also have information to believe Tanner may be armed with a handgun."
Then, at around 8 a.m. on the 10th, investigators learned that Tanner's truck had been spotted in unincorporated Mesa County, not far from Collbran, an area associated with the Grand Mesa.
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At the request of Larimer County officials, Mesa County Sheriff's Office deputies and other personnel located the truck, recovered the body and took Flores into custody.
Even before Doolittle was officially identified, memorials to her were created, including a GoFundMe page established on June 11. It features this photo....
...and the following introduction:
Ashley Doolittle was an incredible person - friend to all, talented and smart, a wonderful horsewoman, and an extraordinary young lady. She was taken from us far too soon.
This fund will help Ashley's mother, Ann Marie Doolittle, with the many expenses incurred with this tragedy. Ann Marie will be the sole beneficiary.
On behalf of the Boulder County 4-H community, and Ashley's many friends in 4-H and FFA, we thank you for contributing in Ashley's memory.
Doolittle's participation in the Future Farmers of America organization stretched well back into her childhood. We found a 2004 item in AgriBiz! magazine noting that she was part of a forestry team that had taken first-place honors in the State FFA Forestry Finals held in Columbia, South Carolina.
And in 2015-2016, she was vice president of the Thompson FFA.
The Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Royalty Committee would like to thank everyone for the support that has been extended by various royalty programs and individuals from across the state. Ashley was a blessing to this program and her legacy as 2017 Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Queen will live on forever. Please continue to pray for her family and encourage everyone to remember her as a great role model and ambassador for the sport we love so much.
More photos of Doolittle's activities related to FFA, the Boulder County Fair and rodeoing in general were also placed on Facebook, including this one....
...and this one....
...and what is, in retrospect, an incredibly moving image of Doolittle riding a horse into the sunset:
Flores is expected to be transferred to the Larimer County jail "in the near future," according to the sheriff's office. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the LCSO at 970-498-5163.
A release from the agency concludes, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashley’s family, friends, and everyone affected by this tragic case."
We second these thoughts.
At this writing, the GoFundMe page has registered more than $6,200 worth of pledges toward a goal of $100,000. Click here for more details.
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Look below to see Flores's booking photo, followed by a 7News video about Ashley Doolittle.