A man found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl on a hiking trail near her Lakewood house in 2015 will spend 18 years to life behind bars.
A Jefferson County jury found Zachary Myers, 23, guilty of nine counts related to the case including sexual assault, stalking, enticement of a child and sexual exploitation of a child.
According to court records, the 14-year-old victim was walking her dog on a hiking trail along Bear Creek in October 15 when Myers came up behind her, put his hand over her mouth and dragged her off the trail where he sexually assaulted her.
Myers had met the teen through social media about a month before the assault, and was able to track down her phone number, court records say.
Investigators say Myers told the teen he was 16 when the two started texting back and forth, and that the conversation eventually became sexual when he both asked for and sent naked pictures.
PHOTOS: The mugshots of Zachary Myers
After the assault, Myers texted the teen and said he’d “had a great time,” and “hoped they could do it again soon,” court records say. That’s when the teen deleted the social media app and tried to block his number.
Court records show Myers was still able to contact the teen, and made repeated attempts to get in touch with her – even threatening to kill himself if she refused to see him.
At one point, according to court records, Myers sent the teen a photo of an arm that been severely cut along with a photo of himself with a shotgun in his mouth.
An investigation into the case began in April 2016, after it was learned Myers had a history of blackmailing underage girls into sending him lewd photos. He has similar cases pending in both Weld and Denver counties.
“Myers coerced this vulnerable child into believing that it was up to her whether he lived or died. This was a despicable assault with unconscionable manipulation,” District Attorney Pete Weir said in a news release.