A Conifer man has been found guilty in the murder of his ex-girlfriend and was sentenced to life in prison plus 16.5 years.
After a five-day jury trial, the jury deliberated for just over three hours before finding Wayne Richard Lotz, 59, guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation, tampering with a deceased human body, aggravated motor vehicle theft, tampering with physical evidence, criminal possession of a financial device and two crime-of-violence counts. He was sentenced on May 15.
The body of his ex-girlfriend, Michele Scott, 55, of Conifer, was found on Feb. 15, 2022, near Pleasant Park Road and South Ridge Road.
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Lotz to the maximum possible sentence on each count, according to a release from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
“It is appropriate in this case for this defendant because he is a multi-state, multi-victim, domestic-violence offender,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Tyra Forbes said. “He finished serving out a sentence on a protection order where Michele was the protected party a mere 10 days before he killed her.”
Scott had reported domestic-violence incidents and protection-order violations by Lotz beginning in 2020. On Feb. 1, 2022, Lotz pled guilty to attempted violation of a civil protection order, a class three misdemeanor. Less than two weeks later, Scott was murdered.
Dozens of family members and friends filled the courtroom to address the court and express the immeasurable loss caused by domestic violence. Scott was remembered as a dedicated mother, sister and friend, and someone who had a profound impact on the lives of those around her.
According to the DA’s office: On the evening of Feb. 13, 2022, a neighbor called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to report that her neighbor, Scott, hadn’t been seen since Feb. 10, and she was concerned for her safety. There was no answer at the door, and Scott was not answering her cell phone, so deputies left Scott’s residence without successfully contacting her that night.
The following morning, Scott’s friends did not find her or her vehicle in the house, so they again called JCSO. This time, deputies observed what appeared to be smeared blood on a truck parked in the driveway, in the garage and other places in the home. Deputies discovered that Scott’s four dogs had not been cared for, and her cell phone was at the house.
Later that day, Lotz was contacted while driving Scott’s Toyota Highlander and taken into custody for questioning. Lotz told police that Scott was on vacation, and he had permission to use her vehicle and credit card while he cared for her dogs and horses.
Lotz was booked into the county jail on charges of domestic violence. Deputies later located blood evidence in the rear hatch area and on the inside of the hatch door of Scott’s Highlander.
Deputies continued to look for Scott, and on Feb. 15, 2022, they found a rug and moving blanket near Pleasant Park Road and South Ridge Road. Lotz’s cell account records showed that on Feb. 11, 2022, his cell phone was in that same area.
The area was searched by ground and by air with drones, and later that afternoon, about a half mile north of the rug and blanket, Scott’s deceased body was discovered under a pile of stacked rocks. Due to the steep terrain between the roadside and the location of her body, the Inter-Canyon Fire Department was called to conduct a technical recovery.
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 a horse lead, and her legs were bound with a dog leash and bungee cord. 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.