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National
Alaska teen, 4 others accused of killing friend after being ‘catfished’ by Indiana man
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Alaska teen, 4 others accused of killing friend after being ‘catfished’ by Indiana man

 

Alaska teen, 4 others accused of killing friend after being ‘catfished’ by Indiana man

An 18-year-old Alaska woman has been charged, along with four other teens, in the slaying of her best friend after a man she met online promised her $9 million for footage of the homicide, authorities said. 

Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, of Anchorage, is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in the June 2 death of Cynthia “CeeCee” Hoffman. According to the Anchorage Police Department, Hoffman, 19, was lured to the bank of the Eklutna River along the Thunderbird Falls hiking trail, where she was bound and gagged with duct tape, shot once in the back of the head and thrown into the river. 

Her body was found by Anchorage police officers two days later, police officials said

>> Read more trending news

Also indicted in the homicide is Darin Schilmiller, 21, of New Salisbury, Indiana, who officials with the Alaska Department of Law allege masterminded the killing. Schilmiller, who met Brehmer online while posing as a Kansas millionaire named Tyler, offered her millions of dollars to rape and kill someone and send him videos and photographs of the crime, Alaskan court documents say. 

Schilmiller admitted to investigators that he chose Hoffman as the victim, a bail memorandum in the case states. He knew that Hoffman, who KTVA in Anchorage reported had a learning disability, was Brehmer’s best friend. 

“Schilmiller further admitted he and Brehmer discussed murdering another person after Hoffman, but that the plan was ultimately abandoned,” the document says. 

Brehmer and Schilmiller, who used a stranger’s photo as his own when they met online, spent three weeks before the killing planning the crime, according to the bail memorandum.  

He faces the same charges as Brehmer, minus the tampering charge, the Department of Law reported in a news release. Schilmiller is also charged federally with production of child pornography and attempted receipt of child pornography for allegedly having Brehmer, who goes by the nickname Angel, sexually assault two young girls.

The bail memorandum states Schilmiller admitted he blackmailed Brehmer into assaulting the girls -- an 8- or 9-year-old and a 15-year-old, after Hoffman’s killing. It was not immediately clear if Brehmer will face charges in that case. 

Four others are charged in Hoffman’s death, including Kayden Bryan McIntosh, 16, of Anchorage, who is accused of pulling the trigger. 

McIntosh, Caleb Allen Russell Leyland, 19, and two other Anchorage teens identified only as John Doe 06022019 and Jane Doe 06022019, were reportedly recruited by Brehmer to help her commit the murder. 

“In exchange, all of them would receive a significant sum of money for their part in the planning and/or execution of the murder,” the Department of Law news release stated

McIntosh, Leyland and the two unnamed teens are charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. McIntosh is additionally charged with four counts of evidence tampering, authorities said. 

“If convicted at trial, the defendants face a sentence of up to 99 years’ imprisonment for each of the murder charges, the conspiracy to commit murder charge and the solicitation to commit murder charge,” the Anchorage police news release stated. “In addition, Brehmer and McIntosh face up to five years’ imprisonment for each of the tampering with physical evidence charges.”

Police statements and court documents paint a disturbing picture of Hoffman’s fate at the hands of Brehmer and McIntosh, who investigators allege took her to Thunderbird Falls on the ruse of going on a hike. According to police officials, a family member of Hoffman’s called authorities around 11:30 a.m. on June 3 and reported she had not come home the night before. 

KTVA identified the family member as Hoffman’s father, Timothy Hoffman. The distraught father also called the news station that same day, frustrated that the police had not sent out a communitywide alert about his daughter being missing.

“Timothy Hoffman said his daughter had a learning disability and the mindset of a 12-year-old,” the news station reported

Hoffman told police his daughter was last seen by a friend at Polar Bear Park around 4 p.m. the day before, wearing blue jeans, a hoodie and tennis shoes, an Anchorage Police Department news release said

As officers began looking for Hoffman, they learned that her friend, Brehmer, was lying to Hoffman’s family. Part of what they learned came via Brehmer’s mother, Nicole House.

“House indicated that her daughter, Denali Brehmer, and a friend she thought was named ‘Anthony’ were at her home the night of June 2. House stated that Brehmer and ‘Anthony’ told her that ‘Anthony’ had shot CeeCee in the head and pushed her in the water,” a criminal complaint in the case states. 

On June 4, homicide detectives went to Brehmer herself, who told investigators that she, McIntosh and Hoffman had been smoking marijuana together the day of the slaying before driving toward Anchorage. They stopped along the way in a parking lot near Thunderbird Falls, a hiking area near the city.

“They walked into the woods and were playing around in the woods,” the complaint states. “The three of them agreed to duct tape each other and take photographs.”

Brehmer told detectives Hoffman, who was bound by her ankles and wrists and had duct tape over her mouth, began to panic, at which time they removed the tape from her mouth and hands. 

“CeeCee began to tell them she was going to call the police and tell them that they had kidnapped her and sexually assaulted her,” Brehmer claimed, according to police. 

Brehmer, who said she had a 9 mm handgun in her hand, told detectives McIntosh took the gun from her and shot Hoffman in the head. 

“CeeCee was still on the ground and Brehmer believes she was trying to call police,” the complaint says. “Brehmer saw CeeCee twitching before McIntosh pushed her in the creek.” 

Though Brehmer initially denied prior knowledge of the shooting, she later told investigators that after Hoffman was tied up, “she handed (McIntosh) the gun and told him to shoot her because she couldn’t do it, and he shot her,” court documents say. 

The bail memorandum states that Brehmer was in contact with Schilmiller throughout the crime. Schilmiller told detectives Brehmer sent him Snapchat images of Hoffman tied up before her death and of her body afterward, according to the document.  

Read the bail memorandum in the case below.

Bail Memorandum in Cynthia Hoffman Slaying by National Content Desk on Scribd

“Digital evidence and statements show Brehmer was communicating with and sending videos and/or photographs of the events surrounding the incident to Schilmiller, at his directive, throughout the duration of the event,” the memorandum says. “There is no indication at this time that Hoffman was sexually assaulted.”

Brehmer told detectives she and McIntosh went back to the car, where she said McIntosh told her to use Hoffman’s cellphone to text the victim’s sister and make up a story about dropping Hoffman off at Polar Bear Park in Anchorage, the criminal complaint says. The bail memorandum states that digital evidence backed those claims. 

Brehmer deleted her conversations with Schilmiller from her phone, the memorandum says. 

The pair then drove to a separate park in the Mountain View community, where they reportedly burned Hoffman’s purse, some of her clothes, her identification and the gun with which she was shot, according to police statements and the criminal complaint. 

McIntosh was interviewed next by detectives, according to the complaint. In his version of events, he said he “blacked out” when Hoffman threatened to call police on him and Brehmer, but that he remembered shooting her and pushing her into the river. 

“He remembers CeeCee twitching before he pushed her in the water and does not know if she died from the gunshot wound or from drowning,” the complaint states. 

Detectives went to the area along the Eklutna River where Brehmer and McIntosh said the crime took place and found Hoffman’s body, which still had duct tape around the ankles. 

Investigators initially released Brehmer, who claimed to have no advance knowledge that McIntosh was going to shoot Hoffman, but arrested her on murder and evidence tampering charges three days later, Anchorage police officials said. The bail memorandum indicates Brehmer was brought in for more questioning after authorities discovered a Snapchat video in which she appears to confess to her involvement in the slaying. 

She ultimately admitted to being solicited by Schilmiller to commit the crime, court documents say. 

Leyland, who authorities said provided the Chevy Trailblazer used by Brehmer and McIntosh on the day of the slaying, and the two other suspects were arrested June 9. Leyland admitted to his role in the incident and, according to the bail memorandum, told authorities he was going to get $500,000 of the $9 million. 

KTVA reported that the two suspects charged as juveniles admitted being present when the crime was planned by the group in Anchorage. 

Leyland is also charged with sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly assaulting the suspect dubbed Jane Doe 06022019, police said. It was not clear when the alleged sexual assault took place. 

On June 11, Schilmiller’s name was made public as a “person of interest” in the homicide. He was taken into custody that day as part of what was described as an ongoing federal investigation. 

According to federal court records, Schilmiller became part of the homicide investigation in Anchorage after detectives there found evidence of child pornography on Brehmer’s cellphone. 

Read one of the criminal complaints in the case below. 

Criminal complaint in Cynthia Hoffman Slaying by National Content Desk on Scribd

The images were embedded in text messages between Brehmer and a contact listed as “Babe,” whom Brehmer identified for detectives as a Kansas man she knew as “Tyler.”

The phone number was traced to a relative of Schilmiller’s in Indiana, an FBI special agent wrote in a criminal complaint. A Facebook Messenger search linked the phone number to Schilmiller. 

Brehmer told investigators about sexually assaulting two young girls at Schilmiller’s direction, the complaint says. She said she sent video of the assaults to him.

The complaint goes into explicit detail about the strings of text messages Brehmer and Schilmiller sent to one another during the incidents. In a text exchange that appears to be between Schilmiller and the 15-year-old victim, Schilmiller, as “Tyler,” offers her millions of dollars.

“IDK (I don’t know) if I told Angel, but I also have $50 million. I’m willing to give you $15 mil,” he wrote. 

When he resumed texting with Brehmer, he told her to “fully rape” the younger girl. 

“Make it look like role play,” he wrote. “You know what I mean. Like a porn movie.”

In another portion of the conversation, “Tyler” tells Brehmer he “doesn’t deserve” her and cannot be in a relationship because of his fetish for rape and child porn. 

“I wish I never made a deal with you in the first place,” he wrote. “We can meet, but once I see a cop I’m telling him or her that I made you rape people and killed CeeCee.”

The FBI agent who wrote the criminal complaint said “Tyler” was initially identified as Schilmiller after agents spotted a public Facebook post from 2017 in which he wrote that he had lost his friends’ contact information and gave his cellphone number. It was the number to which Brehmer texted her videos and images. 

Further digging into Schilmiller’s background showed he was a person of interest in a 2018 child pornography case. 

“In that case, an individual using the phone number (redacted), the same number believed to be used by Schilmiller in this case, contacted a female in California and discussed his fetish with infants, asking the female to send him images of infants along with dirty diapers,” the criminal complaint states. “This case was closed without any charges being brought.”

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  • As JEA continues to move forward with the privatization process, the utility confirms it will also still be moving forward with building a new corporate headquarters in downtown. WOKV told you back in June, when JEA's Board of Directors approved a lease agreement with Ryan Companies for a build to suit headquarters on West Adams Street, and the Jacksonville City Council approved the sale of the land for the project.  GALLERY: JEA headquarters proposal for West Adams Street Now, CEO and Managing Director Aaron Zahn says they officially have decided to proceed.  'The decision to move forward is the right thing to do for JEA employees and customers and supports downtown development. The new headquarters will be capable of serving JEA as it exists today or in any other possible future state as a result of the current strategic planning process,' says Zahn, in a statement. JEA is currently considering 9 bids as it continues the months-long search for a privatization partner. By February a recommendation is expected to be made to the JEA Board, followed by a vote by the full City Council, then finally voters.
  • Former President Jimmy Carter fell in his home Monday night and fractured his pelvis, according to representatives for the Carter family. >> Read more trending news  Carter, 95, was admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia, for “observation and treatment of a minor pelvic fracture,” the statement issued by the Carter Center in Atlanta read. “He is in good spirits and is looking forward to recovering at home,” the statement said. The fall came weeks after Carter suffered another fall in his home that required 14 stitches above his eye. What happens when you break your pelvis? Here’s a look at pelvic fractures, symptoms, treatment and who is at risk. What is the pelvis? The pelvis is a butterfly-shaped group of bones at the base of the spine, held in place by ligaments. The pelvis forms a sort of girdle that protects the bladder, intestines and the rectum. The pelvis has a hole in its center. What is a pelvic fracture? A fracture in the pelvis is a break in at least one of the bones that make up the pelvis. A mild fracture, such as the one Carter is said to have suffered, can heal without surgery, usually within a few weeks. A major fracture is more serious and can be life-threatening, especially if the organs the pelvis normally protects are damaged. What are the types of pelvic fractures? Stable: There is one break in the pelvic “ring.” The bones stay in place and there is minimal bleeding.Unstable: There is more than one break in the pelvic ring and bleeding is moderate to severe. What are the symptoms of a pelvic fracture? The first symptom following a fall or other injury to the pelvis is pain. The pain is in the groin, hip or lower back. It may be worse when walking if you can walk after the injury. Other symptoms include: Numbness or tingling in the groin or legs Bleeding from the vagina, urethra or rectum  Difficulty urinating Difficulty walking or standing TreatmentAfter a pelvic fracture is diagnosed by an X-ray or another imaging test, treatment depends on the severity of the injury. For minor fractures, treatment generally consists of bed rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or prescription painkillers. Healing can take eight to 12 weeks. Physical therapy and aids to help a patient walk are generally used. Surgery is not always recommended. For a severe break, treatment is different. Shock is possible, as is severe internal bleeding and damage to organs. Surgery is needed to stabilize the pelvis. The surgery includes the use of surgical screws and plates to stabilize the pelvic ring. Who is at risk? Most pelvic fractures happen as a result of severe traffic accidents or falls from great heights. Other pelvic fractures are the results of weakened bones – something that happens with bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • A little more than a year after his arrest for having a sexual relationship with two underage former students, a former Fletcher High School teacher pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.  WOKV first reported in September 2018 when Corey French was arrested for multiple counts of having sexual relationshpis with a 16-year-old and 17-year-old.  The Duval County School Board Police Department began its investigation in March 2018 about a possible sex crime involving French. According to DCPS, French was immediately pulled from his classroom responsibility and assigned to a temporary role with no student conduct. He then resigned in May 2018 as the district considered termination.  Duval County Circuit Court records show French ented a guilty plea last Thursday to two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by five years probation. 

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