Alaska woman pleads guilty to killing friend in catfishing scheme involving $9 million
02/21/2023 1:41 pm PST
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (TCD) -- A 22-year-old woman pleaded guilty last week to fatally shooting her friend and dumping her body as part of her involvement in an elaborate catfishing scheme based in Indiana.
On Feb. 15, the Alaska Department of Law announced Denali Brehmer entered the first-degree murder plea for killing 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman June 2, 2019. As part of her plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation of first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and two counts of second-degree murder.
Brehmer faces a minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of 99.
According to the criminal complaint, Brehmer, Hoffman, and a 16-year-old named Kayden McIntosh were driving toward Anchorage after smoking weed and decided to stop at Thunderbird Falls in Chugiak.
They reportedly "agreed to duct tape each other and take photographs," and tied up Hoffman's hands and wrists. They covered her mouth with duct tape, then removed it. Hoffman said she would call police, but McIntosh allegedly shot her in the back of the head before she could. McIntosh then allegedly pushed Hoffman’s body into Thunderbird Falls.
Officials found Hoffman’s body two days later on June 4, 2019.
Prosecutors argued Brehmer, McIntosh, and others conspired to kill Hoffman after Darin Schilmiller from New Salisbury, Indiana, offered Brehmer $9 million to murder Hoffman and send him videos or photos of them doing it. Schilmiller allegedly recruited Brehmer, McIntosh, Caleb Leyland, and two juveniles to partake in the killing and said they would "receive a significant sum of money for their part in the planning and/or execution of the murder."
According to KTUU-TV, Leyland let Brehmer and McIntosh borrow his car the day of the killing. Brehmer and Schilmiller reportedly had an online relationship, but she thought he was a millionaire named Tyler.
Brehmer and Schilmiller were indicted on federal charges in June 2019 because, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, "Brehmer produced videos depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a minor and sent them to Schilmiller."
She reportedly made the videos "at Schilmiller’s direction."
KTUU reports Schilmiller, McIntosh, and Leyland are still awaiting trial.
- Denali Brehmer Pleads Guilty to Murdering Cynthia Hoffman at Thunderbird Falls - Alaska Department of Law
- Alaska Department of Law Update, 6/14/2019 - Anchorage Police Department
- U.S. Attorney's Office Update, 6/18/2019 - Anchorage Police Department
- Defendant accepts plea deal in 2019 murder of Cynthia Hoffman - KTUU
- State of Alaska v. Kayden McIntosh criminal complaint
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