A teenaged girl was murdered by her best friend after she was offered $9 million for the crime in a catfishing scheme.
Denali Brehmer, 18, of Anchorage, Alaska, has been accused of plotting the murder of her best friend, Cynthia Hoffman, 19. The teen allegedly took her friend’s life after an online stranger offered her a large sum of money to carry out the crime. After it was done, authorities say Brehmer sent a Snapchat video of the killing to the Indiana man, Darin Schilmiller, 21, who had offered her $9 million. Schilmiller had been posing as a business tycoon named Tyler and said he was a millionaire from Kansas. All the while, Brehmer was being catfished.
Investigators also uncovered cell phone evidence of Brehmer and Schilmiller “discussing a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska,” according to documents. The teen asked four of her friends to help take Hoffman’s life on a hiking trail June 2. Hoffman, known as “CeeCee,” was brought to Thunderbird Falls in Anchorage by the killers who had taken her in a pickup truck.
CeeCee’s family said the girl learning difficulties, and her father, Timothy Hoffman, added, “My daughter trusted these people. My daughter just wanted friends. Now I have to bury her.”
The suspects allegedly “bound Ms. Hoffman’s head and hands with duct tape and shot her in the back of the head before pushing her body into the Eklutna River, nearly 30 miles (48km) north of Anchorage,” according to records.
Kayden McIntosh, 16, has been accused of firing the fatal shot Brehmer’s gun and Caleb Leyland, 19, along with another unnamed juvenile male and unnamed female, have also been criminally charged. Brehmer confessed to the crime.
Schilmiller, 4,000 miles away at his home in New Salisbury, Indiana, had also allegedly directed Brehmer to rape the victim before killing her, but authorities say there is no evidence the girl was sexually assaulted. The victim’s clothing and personal items destroyed by the attackers, and Brehmer sent video and photos Schilmiller “at his directive”. She also texted the victim’s family afterwards, telling them CeeCee had been dropped off at a different park in Anchorage.
Indiana State Police interviewed Schilmiller and he admitted to the catfishing scheme and discussing a second murder plot with Brehmer. He said he also blackmailed Brehmer into sexually assaulting children, threatening to expose the murder of Hoffman if she did not do as he asked.
During their investigation, authorities found sexually explicit images in texted conversations between Brehmer and Schilmiller. Brehmer has confessed to filming a video of an eight- or nine-year-old girl being sexually abused, as well as a 15-year-old. In a criminal complaint, the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force said text messages show Schilmiller directing Brehmer how she should assault the teenage girl.
Each party faces up to 99 years in prison if found guilty.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, Bryan Schroder, said, “For all of the good the internet can do, it can be a dark place and parents would be wise to monitor the activity of their children online.”
FBI Agent Jeffery Peterson said to other would-be criminals, “If you’re listening to my voice, not in Alaska but somewhere else, and you’re sitting in your mom’s basement, and you’re planning to do some type of crime – influence, plan or conduct a crime in Alaska – and you think you’re safe because you’re that far away, you’re not. We will track you down. We will find you. And we will bring you back here to face justice.”