In this Sunday, June 9, 2019 photo, Denali Brehmer, 18, stands at her arraignment in the Anchorage Correctional Center in Anchorage. Brehmer has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Hoffman. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

In this Sunday, June 9, 2019 photo, Denali Brehmer, 18, stands at her arraignment in the Anchorage Correctional Center in Anchorage. Brehmer has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Hoffman. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Alaska teens charged in ‘murder for millions’ slaying

They were hoping to cash in on a $9 million offer.

ANCHORAGE — Two Alaska teens hoping to cash in on a $9 million offer from a Midwest millionaire brutally killed a developmentally disabled woman on a popular trail outside Anchorage, shooting her in the back of the head and dumping her body in a river, authorities allege.

The millionaire’s only demand for the payout was either photos or video of the slaying, according to court documents laying out first-degree murder and other charges against six people in the June 2 death of Cynthia Hoffman.

“This is a truly horrific case that is not the norm for our community,” Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll said at a news conference, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

From left, Kayden McIntosh, 16, Denali Brehmer, 18, and Caleb Leyland, 19, are arraigned by a Superior court judge in the Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted them on first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting death of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

From left, Kayden McIntosh, 16, Denali Brehmer, 18, and Caleb Leyland, 19, are arraigned by a Superior court judge in the Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted them on first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting death of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Among those charged is Darin Schilmiller, whom authorities say presented himself as the millionaire Tyler from Kansas, using a fake photograph. “He does not look like the young man he portrayed himself to look like, he is not a millionaire and he lives in Indiana,” court documents say.

Authorities say Schilmiller, who has been arrested in New Salisbury, Indiana, and will be transferred to Alaska next month, began an online relationship with Denali Brehmer of Anchorage, posing as Tyler. About three weeks before Hoffman was killed, Brehmer and Schilmiller began discussing a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska, according to court documents.

Denali Brehmer, 18, appears in a Superior courtroom for her arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday in Anchorage. Brehmer, 18, now faces four federal child pornography charges in addition to state murder charges in the slaying of Cynthia Hoffman. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Denali Brehmer, 18, appears in a Superior courtroom for her arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday in Anchorage. Brehmer, 18, now faces four federal child pornography charges in addition to state murder charges in the slaying of Cynthia Hoffman. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

“Schilmiller offered Brehmer nine or more million dollars to carry out the murder and to have photographs and/or videos of the murder sent to him,” the documents say. “Brehmer agreed to commit the murder for him.”

Brehmer then enlisted the help of four friends, including 19-year-old Caleb Leyland, 16-year-old Kayden McIntosh and two other unnamed juveniles, to plan and carry out the murder at Schilmiller’s direction,” according to the documents. The group met to decide how they would divvy up the money.

Kayden McIntosh, 16, appears in a Superior courtroom for his arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday. Six people have been charged in the death of of Cynthia Hoffman including the gunman, McIntosh. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Kayden McIntosh, 16, appears in a Superior courtroom for his arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday. Six people have been charged in the death of of Cynthia Hoffman including the gunman, McIntosh. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

McIntosh is being tried as an adult in the case.

Hoffman was allegedly best friends with Brehmer, and she was chosen by the group as the victim, the documents say.

Brehmer and McIntosh used Leyland’s pickup on June 2 to take Brehmer on a hike at Thunderbird Falls, a popular location about 20 miles north of Anchorage. According to court papers, the group went off trail and followed a path to the bank of the Eklutna River, where Hoffman was bound, shot and thrown into the river. Officials said there was no indication Hoffman was sexually assaulted.

“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 through the duration of the event,” documents say.

Caleb Leyland, 19, appears in a Superior courtroom for his arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday in Anchorage. Six people have been charged n the slaying of Cynthia Hoffman including Leyland. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Caleb Leyland, 19, appears in a Superior courtroom for his arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday in Anchorage. Six people have been charged n the slaying of Cynthia Hoffman including Leyland. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Officials allege they destroyed some of Hoffman’s clothing, purse and cellphone, and Brehmer texted Hoffman’s family to let them know they dropped her off at Polar Bear Park in Anchorage.

Two days later, both Brehmer and McIntosh were interviewed. McIntosh was arrested, but Brehmer denied any involvement in the death. Police continued to investigate and interviewed her two days later after Snapchat video appeared, in which she appeared to confess, the documents say.

“Brehmer ultimately admitted to being solicited by Schilmiller to commit the murder and that the murder was planned once she realized she had been catfished by Schilmiller,” the documents say. Catfishing is when a person creates a fake identity on a social network account to deceive a specific victim.

Schilmiller admitted to federal agents and Indiana State Police his role in the plot, saying he chose Hoffman as the victim and he told Brehmer to kill her, according to the court documents.

Denali Brehmer, 18, appears in a Superior courtroom for her arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday in Anchorage. Brehmer, 18, now faces four federal child pornography charges in addition to state murder charges in the slaying of Cynthia Hoffman. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Denali Brehmer, 18, appears in a Superior courtroom for her arraignment in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday in Anchorage. Brehmer, 18, now faces four federal child pornography charges in addition to state murder charges in the slaying of Cynthia Hoffman. Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left in the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

He also told officials Brehmer communicated with him throughout the murder, and sent Snapchat photographs and videos of Hoffman while bound and then after the murder. He also allegedly told authorities that he and Brehmer discussed killing another person, but the plan was abandoned, and he admitted to blackmailing Brehmer into raping people.

In a separate federal investigation rising from the investigation, Schilmiller and Brehmer were indicted Tuesday on federal child pornography charges, including production and coercion and enticement of a minor. Federal authorities allege Brehmer produced sexually explicit videos involving a minor and sent them to Schilmiller.

Timothy Hoffman, right, father of slain teenager Cynthia Hoffman receives support from Edie Grunwald, left, who’s son David Grunwald was murdered in Nov. 2016, as they entered a Superior courtroom for the arraignment of Cynthia’s murder suspects in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in Anchorage. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Timothy Hoffman, right, father of slain teenager Cynthia Hoffman receives support from Edie Grunwald, left, who’s son David Grunwald was murdered in Nov. 2016, as they entered a Superior courtroom for the arraignment of Cynthia’s murder suspects in the Nesbett Courthouse on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in Anchorage. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

“For all the good the internet can do, it can be a very dark place,” Bryan Schroder, the U.S. attorney in Alaska, said at a news conference Tuesday. “Parents would be wise to monitor the activity of their children online.”

The Alaska teens are being represented by the public defender’s office, which has a policy of not commenting on cases. Online court records did not list an attorney for Schilmiller.


This is an Associated Press article by Mark Thiessen.


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