Man pleads guilty to killing woman, dumping body in Fort Collins City Park lake

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The man accused of killing a Fort Collins mother and dumping her body in Sheldon Lake at City Park in June pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Monday.

Jeffrey Etheridge, 28, entered the plea at the Larimer County Justice Center in the death of Heather “Helena” Hoffmann in June.

Etheridge was a registered sex offender and a self-identified transient when he attacked Hoffmann, authorities said.

Etheridge had charges of second-degree kidnapping, sexual assault and tampering with a deceased human body dropped in exchange for the first-degree murder guilty plea.

The plea ensures he will not face the death penalty.

The Larimer County District Attorney’s Office had been considering pursuing the death penalty but a final decision had not been made.

Heather “Helena” Hoffman

Hoffman, 23, was walking home from work after a shift at a McDonald’s restaurant at West Elizabeth Street and City Park Avenue.

She was last seen leaving work at 1 a.m. June 21. Hoffmann’s body was found floating in Sheldon Lake in City Park about 6:10 p.m. on June 21.

The Larimer County Coroner’s Office said Hoffmann had blunt force trauma injuries on her body that indicated she was held underwater.

Etheridge will be sentenced Feb. 26. The guilty plea carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.

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