ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
91°
Partly Cloudy
H 91° L 78°
  • cloudy-day
    91°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 78°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 78°
  • cloudy-day
    88°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 78°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

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

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.”

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Officials have put a name to a woman whose skeletal remains were found off a Louisiana highway nearly 39 years ago, and two men have been charged with killing her. Leo Laird, 64, and Gary Joseph Haymon, 54, both of Oakdale, have been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape and aggravated kidnapping, according to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office. Laird was arrested Aug. 14 on the charges and is being held in lieu of $1 million bond on the kidnapping and rape charges. There is no bail on the murder charge, jail records show. Haymon is currently serving a 49-year prison sentence for kidnapping, robbery and public bribery. Sheriff’s Office officials said in a news release that arrangements have been made to transfer him from the Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport to Rapides Parish to face the new charges. Laird and Haymon are accused of killing Donna Gayle Brazzell, 18, whose remains were found Nov. 5, 1980, in a wooded area off Louisiana Highway 28 West near Gardner. Brazzell had been living in the Alexandria and Pineville areas at the time of her death, authorities said. Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton told the Town Talk in Alexandria that a man was rabbit hunting with his beagles when one of the dogs began baying. The hunter initially thought a rabbit had grabbed the dog’s attention. “He went over there, and it was a skull,” Hilton told the newspaper. A pair of socks and a clump of hair were found with the bones, the sheriff said. >> Read more trending news  Though it took nearly four decades to identify Brazzell and her alleged killers, Hilton said she was never forgotten. Hilton was the lead detective assigned to the case in 1980 when the bones were discovered. “These cases never, ever leave a policeman’s mind,” Hilton told KALB in Alexandria. 'They prey on you all the time. Especially cases like this, that you never solve.” Investigators turned to Louisiana State University’s Repository for Missing and Unidentified Persons, known as the FACES Lab, to help identify the remains. According to the lab’s website, LSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology has been offering forensic anthropology services to law enforcement since the late 1970s. The formal lab was established in the 1990s. Since it’s inception, it has begun working with law enforcement agencies across the country. In a statement on its Facebook page, FACES lab officials commended law enforcement for identifying Brazzell and solving her homicide. “It was only through the hard work of the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police Crime Lab that we were finally able to solve one of our oldest unidentified persons cases,” the statement said. The lab was able to establish that the bones found near Gardner belonged to a white woman between 16 and 21 years old. Her remains had been exposed to the elements for at least two months and up to one or more years. FACES obtained a DNA sample from the remains and kept it stored over the years, the Sheriff’s Office news release said. “FACES composed a reconstruction of the victim’s skull, which provided investigators a likeness of the victim,” the news release said. “A photograph of the reconstruction was later placed on the repository’s website. Over the years, it would be shared on many other web-based sites, along with social media sites.” As the decades rolled by, the case remained unsolved. In 2014, however, detectives received information pointing to Laird and Haymon as potential suspects in Brazzell’s death. Hilton told KALB that the case heated up again in July when a Pineville woman called investigators to say she recognized the face of the unidentified woman. The woman was Brazzell’s grandmother, Hilton said. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicated the woman spotted her granddaughter on its “Help ID Me” Facebook page. Detectives collected a DNA sample from Brazzell’s grandmother and compared it to that of the remains. The results confirmed the older woman’s suspicions. Authorities have not said what evidence links Laird and Haymon to Brazzell’s slaying. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced Brazzell’s identification on its main Facebook page Monday. “Thank you to everyone that shared this Jane Doe’s information over the years,” the post read. “Your attention and efforts helped give Donna back her name!” Rapides Parish detectives said the homicide investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be filed.
  • Two weeks after WOKV reported that Jacksonville city leaders were looking to up the sakes for the fan experience around the annual Florida-Georgia game, Mayor Lenny Curry and other dignitaries on Friday announced the inaugural Bold City Bash.  The big weekend will begin with an exhibition baseball game between the Gators and Bulldogs at the Baseball Grounds on Friday, November 1st.  Following the exhibition game, country music star Brett Young and other special guests will perform, followed by fireworks. Tickets for both the game and concert/fireworks will cost $15 and go on sale September 3rd.  “It’s always good to have a little anticipation and mystery, so there will be two more acts announced in the weeks ahead”, said Mayor Curry.  There will also be events on the Flex Field at TIAA Bank Field before the football game on Saturday, November 2nd.  “Duval’s Bold City Bash is a signature addition to the Florida-Georgia game and will encompass an entire week of festivities”, said Bill McConnell, General Manager of SMG.  “It will energize Downtown and it will make the Sports Complex the place to be to celebrate the Florida-Georgia tradition before gameday”.  WOKV reported on August 8th that the Mayor’s budget request proposed spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more than prior years, to create a destination in the heart of the Sports Complex. “All the way from RV City, through the [Daily’s Place] Flex Field, in to the parking lots next to the stadium, out to APR [A. Philip Randolph Blvd.], and incorporating the Baseball Grounds and some of the different things on APR, including private businesses that are in the food and entertainment business, to try to connect them all together in a way that offers that whole area of the Sports and Entertainment District as a location for multiple events,” said Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes. Hughes said the intention is to activate this area for several days leading up to the game for both family-friendly activities and nightlife, with everything from live music to street vendors. WOKV started asking about the enhanced fan experience, after seeing a boost in a special events subfund in Mayor Curry’s proposed $1.4 billion budget. While the City plans to do the same annual events it hosts every year, like the Hall of Fame luncheon, they’re proposing budgeting several hundred thousand dollars more than last year in order to execute this vision. The budget proposal includes an addition over last year of more than $440,000 for miscellaneous Florida/Georgia expenses relating to event services and $75,000 in equipment rentals corresponding with the increase in services, among other areas. The exact price tag for the Bold City Bash was not yet available.  Fans will be encouraged to ‘activate’ during The Block Party along Adams Street and A. Philip Randolph Blvd. Live entertainment, food trucks, a beer garden and free giveaways will be part of the fanfare experience.  Per the game contract, all parties are currently in the first negotiation window, which goes up until a few days prior to this year’s game. The final game under this current contract is in 2021, but Brian Hughes says all parties are having productive talks, and he hopes to be able to work out a deal that extends the game in Jacksonville for many years to come. “We anticipate getting to the finish line,” he says. The last contract extension was for five years and gave the teams a combined $2.75 million in payments and incentives over the course of the contract, including annual guaranteed payments, travel expenses, and more. There are limited direct revenue opportunities for the City, like through the operation of concessions and Daily’s Place. The direct costs to the City, meanwhile, have continued to climb over the years, with this new enhanced fan experience being the latest element- since Hughes says it is intended that this be an annual event. In addition to the price of running the stadium operations, the cost of tickets for the game has increased, and the City is obligated under the contract to buy 1,000 each year. The City is reimbursing the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair $80,000 this year relating to costs they will incur because they agreed to delay the opening of the Fair by a week to avoid a conflict with the game. Additionally, the City is paying the Jags nearly $380,000 to acknowledge revenue the team is losing because of the impact of the temporary seating construction on their available tickets to sell for their game the weekend prior to FL/GA. The cost of constructing temporary bleachers at TIAA Bank Field to meet the contractual seating obligation for the game is a little more than $2.4 million this year, with the Jaguars reimbursing about $310,000 relating to the construction in the Club Levels. That number varies some year to year, and could see an increase soon, as the contract with the current vendor expires and negotiations are ongoing in relation to an extension. Hughes says the cost of the event is well worth it, considering the impact on the city. “Jacksonville gets a lot of benefit from it. The economic impacts are real, we fill hotel rooms, we have people going to dinner for multiple nights while they’re here, we have people going out to the beach, we have people enjoying our public spaces around Jacksonville, in addition to having game day,” he says. And it’s also about the tradition. “Both UGA and the University of Florida have deep alumni networks here. It’s become a great tradition for a neutral site game, it’s one of the most famous neutral site games and rivalries in college football, and has been for decades,” he says. Now is the time the City wants to build on that tradition, not only through the enhanced fan experience, but the possible permanent changes for the Sports Complex. The Administration is in the process of putting the finishing touches on an economic development agreement that will reflect around $233.3 million in City incentives for the $450 million development of Lot J at the stadium in to a mixed-use site with entertainment, office, hotel, and residential space. While that deal is still pending approval by the Downtown Investment Authority and the City Council, another project that is moving forward is the removal of the Hart Bridge ramps by the stadium. All of this will mean construction likely affecting the next couple of games after the 2019 one, but Hughes says it will be worth the hassle. “Ultimately, a couple of years on the other side of it, I think people will be amazed at how well both Jaguars games and other events in that area and the Florida/Georgia tradition will kind of fit together down there very well,” he says. The Mayor’s budget proposal- and the included funding for this enhanced fan experience complex- is still pending the vetting and approval of the Jacksonville City Council. A final vote will take place ahead of the start of the Fiscal Year October 1st.
  • A man has died as a result of a stabbing on Jacksonville’s westside.  Jacksonville Police say they received a 911 call on Thursday night from a person who said that his friend had just been stabbed on Kingston Street, off Commonwealth.  He told police they were driving the victim to UF Health on the northside. A short while later another 911 call came in about a crash at 8th Street and Davis.  Three people were inside the car, one person had a stab wound to the chest.  He was rushed to the hospital where he later died.  Two people who were in the car told police the suspect was an unidentified black woman who fled the scene in a dark colored car.  JSO is asking anyone who may have information about the stabbing to contact them at (904) 630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS. 
  • The active search for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker by the Coast Guard and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue has come to an end after the men went missing a week ago off the Space Coast during a boating trip. Randy Wyse, the President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters says it has been a hard week. We were hoping for a better outcome. Wyse says the community and volunteers have been phenomenal with the search and fundraiser. More than $150,000 has been raised and Wyse says the money is growing every hour but now the expenses are starting to come in. We promised we would cover fuel for boats and planes. Volunteers are being asked to bring their reimbursement receipts to the Command Post. Once the money gets situated, the money left over will go to the family members of McCluney and Walker. Wyse tells WOKV they will not be involved or funding any private searches, but the families can do whatever they wish with the money. Click here, if you wish to donate. 
  • A 10-year-old boy who was reported missing after leaving school in Argyle Forest is now back with his grandmother following an AMBER Alert and hours-long search. Two people have since been arrested for interfering with custody of a child and giving false information to law enforcement.  The Clay County Sheriff’s Office says the boy was picked up by someone while walking home from school in Argyle Forest, and taken to Jacksonville. According to an arrest report, 23-year-old Ondreja Ciprian had tried to entice the boy to come live with her over the past couple of weeks, without the grandmother’s knowledge or consent.  DCF had previously removed the boy from his mother and father’s care, and in February of 2018 awarded custody to his grandmother.  During the search for the boy on Thursday, Clay detectives went to a home off Rampart Road on Jacksonville’s westside, where they made contact with Vachastity Christian.  Detectives found a shirt draped over a fence that was positiively identified by the grandmother as the same shirt the missing boy had been wearing at school.  The boy was found safe in a back bedroom of the home and was later released to his grandmother.  Ciprian and Christian, whose relationship is not clear from the arrest report, were charged with interference with child custody and providing false information to law enforcement during a missing child investigation.  The Clay Sheriff’s Office says it is thankful to the community, who shared the message thousands of times on social media, brought in tips, and offered to help in any way they could. 

The Latest News Videos