A Colorado man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for strangling his ex-girlfriend to death early last year
Wayne Lotz, 59, was convicted by a jury of his peers in Jefferson County late last week on seven counts related to the disappearance and murder of Michele Scott, 55, according to law enforcement.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Lotz was arrested after he was found driving the missing victim’s car on Valentine’s Day 2022. Scott’s body was discovered the next day near the intersection of Pleasant Park Road and High Grade Road in Pleasant Park Corridor, a part of Jefferson County near unincorporated Conifer, Colorado.
At first, the defendant was booked and charged with relatively minor vehicle theft and financial fraud charges because he was found in possession of his ex-girlfriend’s debit card. Additional charges came after Scott was found, including murder in the first degree, tampering with evidence, and tampering with a deceased human body.
The victim was reported missing on the night of Feb. 13, 2022, by a neighbor who had not seen her in three days and was concerned for her safety, the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. Another neighbor told law enforcement that Scott had plans to watch the Superbowl with them and never showed up.
Deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office knocked on Scott’s door that night, and tried her phone, to no avail.
Friends of Scott’s forced their way into her garage the next morning and found that her Toyota Highlander was gone.
Again, the JCSO was contacted. This time, in the light of day, sheriff’s deputies noticed “what appeared to be smeared blood on a truck parked in the driveway, in the garage, as well as other places in the home,” the DA summarized. Additionally, the home was in a general state of being unkempt – and the victim’s four beloved dogs had clearly not been fed or otherwise cared for in days.
A further search of Scott’s home ensued.
That search, law enforcement claims, quickly turned up “evidence on her property” that led investigators to believe Lotz, identified by authorities as Scott’s “ex-boyfriend,” as the prime suspect. The sheriff’s office described some of this evidence as “a history of domestic violence calls at that residence involving Michele and Lotz.”
After being surveilled driving Scott’s SUV and then taken into custody for questioning, Lotz lied and told police that Scott “was on vacation” and that he had “permission to use her vehicle and credit card while he cared for her dogs and horses,” the DA’s office said.
That story, of course, did not align with the most recent domestic violence call that occurred less than a week before law enforcement was made aware of Scott’s disappearance, on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.
“No arrests were warranted at that time,” the sheriff’s office said, of that prior domestic violence complaint.
Prosecutors described the brutal condition of Scott’s body when she was found
“Deputies would later locate blood evidence in the rear hatch area and on the inside of the hatch door of Scott’s Highlander,” the DA’s office said. Scott’s body was found half a mile away from a rug and moving blanket, underneath a stacked pile of rocks. Cellular phone records placed Lotz in that same area on Feb. 11, 2022.
“Scott was found with a brown leather leash looped around her neck, her wrists were bound with braided rope, her arms had been bound by horse lead, and her legs were bound with a dog leash and bungee cord,” the DA’s office said. “An autopsy would later reveal Scott’s cause of death was strangulation and blunt force injuries. Lotz’s DNA was found on the leash around her neck.”
Lotz was charged with eight counts in total – including one count of menacing and two crimes of violence counts. After a five-day trial, and deliberating for just over three hours, guilty verdicts were returned on all but the lone count of menacing.
Scott repeatedly reported Lotz for domestic violence and for violating protective orders beginning in 2020. Just 10 days before she died, Lotz pleaded guilty to attempted violation of a civil protection order.
“Domestic violence is a horrible thing, and many people are afraid to speak out,” an unnamed friend of Scott’s is cited as saying in the press release. “I thank you for taking this man off the streets and knowing he will never be able to harm another woman or family like this again. Thank you for justice.”
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