An Alaska teenager plotted the murder of her best friend after a man she met online and started a relationship with offered her $9 million for footage of the slaying, authorities say.
Denali Brehmer, 18, was indicted by an Anchorage grand jury on June 14 for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and two counts of second-degree murder in the June 2 killing of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman, according to a statement by the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office.
Four Alaska teenagers, including 16-year-old Kayden McIntosh and 19-year-old Caleb Leyland, both of Anchorage, and 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller, of Indiana, were also indicted on the same charges. The defendants face a sentence of up to 99 years imprisonment for each of the murder charges.
The district attorney’s office says Brehmer plotted to kill Hoffman after meeting Schilmiller on the internet. The two had already begun a relationship when the 21-year-old, who was posing as a millionaire from Kansas named “Tyler” at the time, offered the teen at least $9 million to “rape and murder someone” and send him videos and photographs of the crime.
Brehmer allegedly recruited McIntosh and Leyland, along with two juveniles whose identities have not been released, to help her plan and carry out Hoffman’s murder in exchange for “a significant sum of money.”
On the day of Hoffman’s death, authorities say the group of teens brought the victim, who had learning disabilities and a younger developmental age than 19, to Thunderbird Falls Trail under the guise of a hiking trip, Anchorage Daily News reports.
The suspects then allegedly bound Hoffman’s hands and feet with duct tape before McIntosh shot her in the head and threw her body in the Eklutna River. Authorities found the teen’s remains on a river bank on June 4.
Brehmer sent photos and videos of the murder to Schilmiller via Snapchat in accordance with his request, although police say there was no evidence that the victim was sexually assaulted, NBC News reports.
The group then discarded Hoffman’s personal belongings and texted her family claiming they dropped her off at a nearby park. When later questioned by police over Hoffman’s death, Brehmer allegedly confessed to her role in the murder plot.
Court documents also allege that Brehmer sent Schilmiller, at his request, footage of herself sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, which led them to discover the Indiana man and his involvement in Hoffman’s death, CNN reports.
In addition to the murder charges, Brehmer and Schilmiller have been charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography, production of child pornography, receipt and distribution of child pornography and coercion and enticement of a minor, all of which carry maximum jail sentences of 20 to 30 years.
Schilmiller is currently in police custody and will be extradited from Indiana to face trial in Alaska.
Timothy Hoffman, the victim’s bereaved father, said his daughter had only been friends with Brehmer for about half a year and believes she took advantage of her deep desire to form social bonds and be accepted, according to Anchorage Daily News.
“Her friend was cool,” Hoffman said. “Cynthia wanted to be cool.”
“My daughter trusted these people. My daughter just wanted friends. Now I have to bury her.”