A 21-year-old Indiana man is accused in Alaska of convincing a woman to kill her 19-year-old friend by posing as a multimillionaire online and offering to pay millions for pictures and video of the crime.
According to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Darin Schilmiller of New Salisbury, Indiana, pretended to be someone named “Tyler” in online conversations with 18-year-old Denali Brehmer, who is accused of planning the killing of Cynthia Hoffman.
The indictment against Schilmiller alleges he promised at least $9 million to Brehmer for the “rape and murder someone in Alaska.” In exchange, the indictment alleges Schilmiller requested — and received — images and footage of Hoffman’s June 2 slaying.
According to the new filings, Brehmer enlisted four friends — identified as Kayden McIntosh, 16; Caleb Leyland, 19; and two other teens whose names are being withheld due to their ages — to help plan and carry out the murder.
The indictment alleges Brehmer promised the four friends a portion of the $9 million take. Leyland, who allegedly let Brehmer and McIntosh borrow his car to commit the murder, told police he was to receive $500,000 from Brehmer.
The indictment alleges the five teens met in May or early June to plan the crime, and decided to target Hoffman.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the victim’s family has said she has a learning disability and functions at a younger developmental age than 19.
Hoffman’s father, Timothy Hoffman, told the paper his daughter considered Brehmer her “best friend” after they met in high school.
Brehmer and McIntosh allegedly drove with Hoffman to Thunderbird Falls outside Anchorage on June 2, where the three were set to go on a hike. The indictment alleges that the three walked along the bank of the Eklutna River where McIntosh and Brehmer allegedly duct-taped Hoffman’s hands, feet and mouth.
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Hoffman was shot once in the back of the head, allegedly by McIntosh, and the two allegedly pushed the body into the river.
The indictment alleges Brehmer may have sent Snapchat videos and photos to Schilmiller, showing Hoffman alive but bound with duct tape. She also allegedly sent him images of Hoffman’s body after the fatal shooting.
McIntosh and Brehmer were each charged with one count of murder and one count of tampering with evidence and their bail was set at $200,000.
Leyland was arrested for one count of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder and multiple counts of sexual assault with a minor.
It was unclear if any of the three had entered pleas to the charges against them, or had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
The indictment alleges that Brehmer only learned after the murder she had been tricked. The filing indicates Schilmiller “catfished” the teen, by sending her photos of a man who was not him.
Schilmiller is being held on federal child pornography charges as he awaits extradition. Authorities allege he instructed Brehmer to take sexually explicit photos of two minors, and also told her to record videos of child sex abuse and send them to him, Alaska Public Radio reports.
It was unclear if Schilmiller had pleaded to the charges against him or was represented by an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
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