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Man arrested, possible remains found nearly 10 years after Colorado teen's disappearance

Joel Hollendorfer was charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with Kara Nichols' case, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities have arrested and charged a man with murder in connection with the cold case of 19-year-old Kara Nichols, who vanished nearly a decade ago in Colorado.

Nichols disappeared Oct. 9, 2012, last seen by a family members leaving the 6700 block of Mission Road in unincorporated El Paso County, according to authorities. Her family formally reported her missing on Oct. 14, 2012.

Kara Nichols.
Kara Nichols.Dateline

On Monday, investigators had a breakthrough: They found female human remains that were tentatively identified as Nichols by the El Paso County Coroner’s Office the following day, the sheriff’s office said in a press release

The sheriff's office said the case got momentum in a cold case review that started last month.

Investigators spoke with a witness and “critical information” from that interview led to a “significant” new lead, the sheriff's office said.

Detectives from the sheriff’s office and an FBI Evidence Response Team on Monday executed a search warrant in the 9600 block of Burgess Road, which led to the discovery of the human remains. 

The sheriff’s office announced Tuesday that Joel Hollendorfer was arrested.

He was booked into the El Paso County Jail on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

The sheriff's office did not disclose details on what led to his arrest or how Nichols may have died.

His first court appearance is set for Feb. 17.

An attorney listed for Hollendorfer did not immediately reply to NBC News' request for comment.

The sheriff’s office said hundreds of hours had been devoted to the Nichols case, dozens of search warrants were executed and leads poured in from across the U.S. and Europe.