Suspects in deadly rock-throwing attacks charged with murdering Arvada woman

Courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
The shattered windshield of Alexa Bartell’s car. Three suspects allegedly threw a rock at her while she was driving in Jefferson County on the night of April 19. The impact of the rock killed her.

Three suspects accused of killing a 20-year-old Arvada woman and injuring other drivers during a rock-throwing spree west of Denver last month are now facing murder charges. 

Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King filed 13 charges against James Karol-Chik, Joseph Edwin Koenig, and Zachary Hiestand Kwak, all 18, in district court on Wednesday. The charges include first-degree murder, as well as attempt to commit murder and assault.

“We thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation and the community for their commitment to identifying the suspects,” King said in a statement. “Based on the available facts and after careful legal analysis, we have filed charges and will now move forward with a criminal prosecution.” 

The three teens were arrested at their homes in Arvada last week after being identified as suspects with the help of cell phone tower data and a friend who had been hanging out with them earlier on April 19.

That night, the group allegedly loaded up a truck with landscaping rocks and threw them at moving cars in various parts of Jefferson and Boulder counties.

The stones allegedly hit at least seven vehicles, injuring three people and killing 20-year-old Alexa Bartell as she was talking to a friend on the phone. 

After hitting her yellow Chevy Spark, the suspects circled back to take a photo of her crashed car as a “memento,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Sheriff’s deputies interviewed a friend of the group who offered a possible explanation for the alleged rock-throwing, telling investigators that Koenig often participates in “destructive behavior” because “he likes causing ‘chaos,’” according to the affidavit.


The suspects said they had thrown rocks at passing cars on at least 10 other days before the night they allegedly killed Bartell, the affidavit said. 

Family members of Bartell held funeral services for the 20-year-old this past weekend. 

Bartell was an “amazing daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and an intelligent, kind-hearted soul,” according to a statement from her family released by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. 

“Alexa would do anything for those she knew and loved,” her family said. 

Karol-Chik, Koenig and Kwak are scheduled to appear in front of a Jefferson County judge Wednesday afternoon for a formal reading of their charges. If convicted of first-degree murder, the suspects face sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the DA’s office.