Alaska police: Teen was killed by friends after man online offered $9M for videos of the murder

Cynthia Hoffman, 19, was killed by a group of teens after a man online offered $9 million for videos of the murder, police said. (Timothy Hoffman)
Cynthia Hoffman, 19, was killed by a group of teens after a man online offered $9 million for videos of the murder, police said. (Timothy Hoffman)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A grand jury indicted six defendents on Friday in connection to the murder of a teen girl earlier this month.

Alaska authorities say Danali Brehmer, 18, began plotting the murder of her "best friend" after a man she met online offered to pay her $9 million for videos and photographs of the killing.

The body of Cynthia Hoffman, 19, was discovered by authorities on Tuesday, June 4 along a river bank outside Anchorage. Investigators said she had been bound with duct tape, shot in the back of the head and pushed into the river two days earlier.

Hoffman was reported missing on Monday, June 3. Her father told authorities that she was last seen at a park, based on information from friends.

The following day, detectives spoke with Brehmer and Kayden McIntosh, 16, who were believed to have been at the park with Hoffman. During questioning, authorities learned that the three teens were never at the park, and that the story had been fabricated to mislead police.

On June 4, the Anchorage Police Department released the following statement:

The preliminary investigation found that [Hoffman], [Brehmer] and [McIntosh] went to Thunderbird Falls trail on 6/2/19. The three walked down to the river bank where the victim was bound with duct tape by the female and male. At some point, an altercation took place. The male shot the victim in the back of the head, pushed her into the river and fled with the female. They drove to Polar Bear Park with the victim’s belongings. They sent texts to the victim’s family members via her phone. They stated the victim was dropped off at the park. The family members took that information and used it to file a missing person’s report the next day. The male and female then drove to Lions Park in Mountain View and burned the victim’s belongings.

McIntosh was arrested on charges of first-degree murder and evidence tampering, according to documents obtained by KTVA. On Friday, June 7, Brehmer was arrested after admitting to detectives that she directed McIntosh to shoot Hoffman.

In documents, Hoffman is referred to as Brehmer's "best friend."

On Sunday, June 9, authorities announced that three more suspects were arrested in connection to Hoffman's murder.

Caleb Leyland, 19, along with a juvenile male and juvenile female were taken in for questioning, during which Leyland and the juvenile male admitted they were involved in the planning of Hoffman's murder, according to documents. The juvenile female reportedly told investigators she was present during the planning of the crimes.

Detectives said Leyland admitted to lending Brehmer and McIntosh his Chevrolet Trailblazer to kidnap Hoffman and kill her. He was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

During the investigation, authorities discovered that Leyland had also sexually assaulted the juvenile female, which led to additional charges of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

The juveniles were booked into a juvenile detention center.

Last week, Anchorage police announced that a 21-year-old man from Indiana had been named as a person of interest.

Darin Schilmiller is accused of posing as a man named "Tyler" and directing Brehmer to plan and commit the crimes.

While looking through Brehmer's phone, authorities discovered messages with Schilmiller, who was listed in the phone as "Babe." Brehmer and Schilmiller had reportedly began an online relationship within the past several months, with Schilmiller using a photograph of a man who was not himself and convincing Brehmer that he was a millionaire.

According to recovered cellphone evidence, Schilmiller and Brehmer discussed plans to rape and murder someone in Alaska, with Schilmiller offering to pay $9 million for videos and photographs of the act.

Investigators discovered that Schilmiller had also directed Brehmer to sexually assault two minors, one who was 8 or 9 years old, and another who was 15. Evidence was found showing that Brehmer had sent Schilmiller child pornography featuring the 15-year-old victim, according to police.

At some point during May or early June, the Alaska teens met to discuss plans to murder Hoffman and split the money between themselves, investigators said.

Digital evidence showed that Brehmer was communicating with Schilmiller throughout the duration of Hoffman's murder, according to police. There was no indication that Hoffman was sexually assaulted.

All six suspects were indicted on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of second-degree murder. Schilmiller and Brehmer were also indicted on first-degree solicitation to commit murder. Brehmer additionally faces one count of tampering with physical evidence and McIntosh faces four counts of tampering with physical evidence.

Schilmiller is also facing federal child pornography charges.

Brehmer, McIntosh and Leyland were set to be arriagned Tuesday. Schilmiller will be arraigned once he is extradited to Alaska.

No further information will be released regarding the juveniles.

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