Darin Schilmiller was the mastermind behind the murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman at the Eklutna River near Thunderbird Falls in Anchorage, Alaska, according to court documents.
Schilmiller, a 21-year-old man from New Salisbury, Indiana, solicited a group of five other young individuals to murder Hoffman.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Schilmiller Posed as a Millionare Named Tyler
According to the documents, investigators determined Schilmiller to have posed as a millionaire named Tyler from Kansas.
Under digital disguise, Schilmiller met defendant Denali Brehmer and led an online relationship with her for several months. During that time, Schilmiller sent Brehmer photos of another man claiming it was him, which is commonly known as “catfishing.”
Weeks before Hoffman’s murder, Schilmiller and Brehmer talked about raping and murdering someone in Alaska. He offered her nine or more million dollars to carry out the plan and to send him photos and/or videos of the murder.
2. Six People Have Been Arrested in Connection to the Murder
The court documents list Darin Mitchell Schilmiller, 18-year-old Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, 16-year-old Kayden Bryan McIntosh, 19-year-old Caleb Allen Russell Leyland, as well as two juveniles listed as John and Jane Doe.
Statements from all of the defendants indicated that once the plan was set, Brehmer recruited four friends to assist her in planning and executing the crime as instructed by Schilmiller.
The statements also indicated that the group gathered in either May or June 2019 to discuss the plan in person. During that time, the group determined that each person would be awarded a share of the money for their part in the execution.
3. Allegedly Hoffman was Brehmer’s ‘Best Friend’
The group collectively selected Cynthia Hoffman as the murder victim, as she was allegedly Brehmer’s “best friend.”
Brehmer drove McIntosh, who supplied the vehicle, and Hoffman to Thunderbird Falls. The trip, which took place on June 2, 2019, was disguised as a hike.
The trio went off the main trail down to the bank of the Eklutna River, where they stopped at a clearing. Brehmer and McIntosh bound Hoffman’s hands, feet, and head with duct tape before shooting her once in the back of the head and tossing her body into the river. Brehmer did indeed send pictures and videos to Schilmiller at his instruction throughout the duration of the crime.
However, the documents clearly state that there is no indication of sexual assault.
4. Brehmer and McIntosh Were Interviewed by Police Two Days Later
According to the report, Brehmer and McIntosh were interviewed by the Anchorage Police Department on June 4, 2019. McIntosh confessed to shooting Hoffman in the head and was subsequently arrested for Murder in the First Degree. However, Brehmer said McIntosh grabbed the gun from her hand and shot Hoffman, stating she had no prior knowledge that a crime was going to take place.
After digital evidence showing Brehmer confessing, she was brought back in to the Anchorage Police Department for another interview on June 7, 2019. Once she realized that she had been catfished by Schilmiller, she admitted to being solicited to commit the crime. The following day, detectives interviewed Leyland, who admitted to knowing of the plan and offering up his vehicle. He also said he was promised $500,000 for his part.
On June 9, 2019, Schilmiller was contacted by federal agents along with Indiana state police. He admitted to everything, including that he chose Hoffman as the victim.
According to FBI Anchorage, “yesterday, law enforcement announced the federal indictments of Darin Schilmiller & Denali Brehmer for production of child pornography. Work still needs to be done on behalf of the victims in this tragic case.”
5. Cynthia’s Family Has Started a Memorial Fundraiser
“If anyone wants to donate to cynthia and her family there a fundraiser going on if any wants to stop by in person here’s my address 1545 s. Hoyt st. Sp 89,” Cynthia’s father Timothy wrote on Facebook. “If anyone wants to just call and talk here’s my # 9073108467 if anyone wants to see how happy my family is here some pics. Thank you all for all your support . But now it’s time to hold my family together get thru this rough time and get them to smile again. It’s all about family I love you cynthia and no one can imagine my pain. But for now I have to show no emotion and be strong for my family. But when it’s time you’ll all here my cry but my focus is my kids and sending all six of them to Hell. And I won’t stop until it’s over. Love you all thanks again for your support.”
In the past two weeks, 51 people have raised $2,143, surpassing the $1,600 goal.
“For those who donated or friends of friend who donated thank you,” Cynthia’s sister Kimberly wrote on Facebook. “My dad and I we really appreciate you for your donation towards Cynthia Hoffman funeral. I just wanted to let you guys know that I really meant alot to us for helping out. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you…”
“On behalf of everyone at the Anchorage Police Department, we give our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Cynthia Hoffman,” the Anchorage Police Department wrote on Twitter. “We are deeply sorry for their loss. This crime and its turn of events has been horrific, and we see how it’s impacted our community.”