The Ashley Doolittle Case
18-year old Colorado teen, Ashley Doolittle, was reported missing Thursday, June 9 after she never returned home at her expected 7:30 p.m. time. Her mother called the sheriff’s office in Larimer County just before 8:00 p.m. after she found her daughters car abandoned near Lon Hagler Reservoir, near the family’s home.
Doolittle’s ex-boyfriend, Tanner George Flores, 18, was taken into custody shortly after she went missing. Authorities gathered through interviews that Flores was distraught over the young couple’s recent breakup. Flores’ father also reported to investigators that his .22-caliber revolver had been missing from his gun cabinet.
Flores’ truck was found at his deceased grandfather’s home after Ashley went missing. An eyewitness account contacted authorities and reported seeing Flores and his truck at the house. The eyewitness also explained they saw Flores pulling out what looked to be a bundled up blanket from the back seat. The eyewitness further reported that she might have seen an arm coming out of the blanket.
Authorities began the search for Doolittle on Friday the 10th and found a body near Mesa County, five hours from Larimer County. Authorities arrested Flores, who was found near the area that the unidentified body was found, and was booked to Mesa Country jail. The body was later identified as Ashley Doolittle. Flores admitted to shooting Doolittle twice in Larimer County and dumping her body in Mesa County.
The Warning Signs of Potential Violence after a Teen Breakup
Why would Flores turn to murder over a breakup? Not much is known at this point, but friends of Flores stated, “They had never seen Tanner so depressed before.” Authorities were told that Flores was posting updates on his social media that suggested a depressed state. Suzanne Lachmann Psy.D. explains that a depressed state is common during the grieving process after a breakup. After a breakup, Lachmann explains, an individual may become desperate in making sense of what has occurred. Their thoughts become clouded in search for clarity. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, sociologists explain that this clouded judgement can lead to depression. Sociologists found that 40% of the 114 individuals they assessed after a breakup were clinically depressed, and of that 40%, 12% were severely depressed. This depressed state, however, isn’t enough to explain the extreme violence that the young teen committed.
An arrest affidavit states that Flores shot Doolittle “because he was angry with her.” Lachmann makes note that anger is another stage of the grieving process after a breakup.” Further insight from the American Psychological Association explains that violence arises because serotonin levels drop during the anger stage and may cause an individual to become violent and impulsive. This may lead a teen to turn towards violent acts to express their anger, or as a way to retaliate against a person they care about who has hurt them. Lachmann explains that this is a crucial stage in the grieving process because either the individual can use the anger in an empowering way, or it can consume the individual.
The grieving process after a teenage breakup, combined with fluctuating hormones, may be a potential for an increase in teen violence. Parents and friends are advised to keep an eye on both parties after a breakup to ensure violence does not arise.
How to Recognize Potential Violence in Teens
Ashley Doolittle was victim of horrific violence that occurred after a breakup. As the story develops, we will learn more about Flores and if violence had been a part of his past. But signs of potential violence in teens should be recognizable to deter any future lives being taken.
The problem with teen violence is that there is no direct cause as to why it occurs. Research and professionals suggest that violence in teens may arise, especially when close relationships become strained. These strained relationships come in many different forms. They may be due to unchangeable factors such as:
- Being victim to bullying
- Witnessing/being victim to violence at a young age
- Lacking empathy for others
- Having a family member condone violence
Other unchangeable factors unrelated to strained relationships stem from things such as:
- Having a history of aggressive behavior
- Experiencing trauma at a young age.
- Drug or use
- Gang membership
- Withdrawal from social matters
- Feeling rejected/alone
- Fascination with guns
If you are a parent that believes your teen may become violent or is showing patterns of violence, visit the links below for help.
Author, Alexia Maggos, Lauth Investigations