Denali Brehmer is an Anchorage, Alaska teen charged with plotting to kill her best friend, Cynthia “CeeCee” Hoffman, with the help of four other friends after a man posing as a millionaire online offered her $9 million, CNN reports.
Brehmer, 18, faces first-degree murder and related charges in state court. She was also indicted in federal court Tuesday on child pornography charges, KTUU reported.
Police say Brehmer plotted with 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller of Indiana. Schilmiller is accused of posing as a millionaire named “Tyler” online and offering Brehmer $9 million to kill Hoffman and send him “videos and photographs of the murder,” authorities said.
Documents filed in federal court also allege that Schilmiller directed Brehmer to sexually assault an “8- or 9-year-old” and a 15-year-old and send him videos of the acts. Brehmer admitted to sending him the videos and investigators discovered a video of the 15-year-old.
Brehmer faces up to 80 years if convicted on all of the child pornography charges.
Brehmer was also charged in state court with murder and pleaded not guilty.
“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,” US Attorney for the District of Alaska, Bryan Schroder said, according to CNN.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Denali Brehmer Plotted to Kill Cynthia Hoffman With Fake Online ‘Millionaire,’ Police Say
Police say Brehmer and Schilmiller, posing as “Tyler,” began discussing “a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska” in May, weeks before Hoffman’s murder, CNN reported.
“Brehmer agreed to commit a murder for him,” the indictment said, according to ABC News. “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 throughout the duration of the event.”
Brehmer recruited other friends to help. Brehmer planned to split the money she received from Schilmiller, who later confessed to the plot, according to the indictment.
Police said Schilmiller admitted targeting Hoffman and said they discussed a plot to murder another person but abandoned the plan.
2. Hoffman, Who Had a Learning Disability, Was Brehmer’s Best Friend
The indictment says that Hoffman, 19, was Brehmer’s “best friend.”
“[Schilmiller] told police that he knew Hoffman was best friends with Brehmer. He further admitted to telling Brehmer to kill Hoffman and that he and Brehmer had been planning a murder for three weeks,” the document said, according to ABC News.
Hoffman’s father told KTUU that his daughter had a “learning disability.”
Timothy Hoffman told the outlet that after he reported his daughter missing, police did not take her disability seriously.
Hoffman, who knows Brehmer as “Angela,” texted her after Hoffman’s disappearance.
Brehmer told the father that she was concerned about Hoffman’s safety and claimed that she was ignoring her.
“I know she will come home safe,” Brehmer wrote.
Brehmer told police that the two were “smoking weed” with another friend, 16-year-old homeless teen Kayden McIntosh.
Brehmer claimed that “the three of them agreed to duct tape each other and take photographs. CeeCee was bound by her ankles and wrists with duct tape. She also had grey duct tape placed over her mouth. However, CeeCee started to panic. They removed the duct tape from CeeCee’s mouth and hands. CeeCee began to tell them she was going to call the police and tell them they had kidnapped her and sexually assaulted her,” according to a police affidavit.
Brehmer said she was holding a gun, which McIntosh took from her.
McIntosh told police that “CeeCee started panicking and threatening to call the police on them. He stated he ‘blacked out’, but that he remembers shooting CeeCee and pushing her into the river.”
The two then agreed to text Hoffman’s family to say she was dropped off at a park. They later burned the gun, Hoffman’s purse and clothes, and her ID.
Hoffman’s body was found in Thunderbird Falls on Tuesday.
3. Brehmer Was Charged With Murder in Hoffman’s Death
Police said Hoffman’s body was found bound in duct tape in a river near a rural Anchorage hiking trail, ABC News reported. She died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, though police said there were no signs she was sexually assaulted.
Brehmer was charged with murder. She admitted to her role in the plot, according to her indictment.
Brehmer, McIntosh, Schilmiller, and 19-year-old Caleb Leyland were charged with first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of second-degree murder and other charges.
Leyland is accused of providing the car used to carry out the murder and was part of the plot, police said. Two unidentified juveniles were charged as well.
Police said the teens agreed to help carry out the murder and in exchange, “all of them would receive a significant sum of money for their part in the planning and/or execution of the murder.”
All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty. Schilmiller is expected to be extradited from Indiana next month, KTUU reported.
4. ‘Tyler’ Also Directed Brehmer to Sexually Assault Children on Video, Police Say
Brehmer and Schilmiller were also indicted in federal court on child pornography charges.
“Schilmiller further admitted to attempting to blackmail Brehmer after the homicide into raping people,” police said, according to ABC News.
Court documents say that Schilmiller directed Brehmer to sexually assault an “8- or 9-year-old” and a 15-year-old and send him videos of the acts, CNN reported.
Brehmer told police she carried out his instructions.
Brehmer faces up to 30 years for conspiracy to produce child pornography, 30 years for production of child pornography, and 20 years for distribution of child pornography if she is convicted on all counts.
Schilmiller was indicted on the same charges as well as an additional charge of coercion and enticement of a minor, which carries a prison sentence of 10 years to life.
5. Hoffman’s Father Says He Hopes McIntosh ‘Goes Straight to Hell’ in Court
Timothy Hoffman told KTUU he was highly concerned as soon as Cynthia did not answer his call.
“In this family, you all have phones. When dad calls, you answer. I don’t care if you’re at church and the holy pastor is preaching. I don’t care if you’re at school taking the high school diploma test. If dad calls, you answer,” he said.
Hoffman, a handyman, said his daughter had graduated from high school last year and often helped him on jobs. He was planning to give her money for helping him set up a camper but she never showed up.
“I put out search parties. I drove my motorcycle through woods and bike paths. I floored it all over town doing speed limits I should not have been doing looking for my kid,” Hoffman said.
“When she didn’t come home the first day, I knew something was wrong. When she didn’t come home the second day, I knew something was wrong. And then all I could think about was the knock on the door,” he recalled.
It was the police.
“I just looked at them and said, ‘She’s dead. isn’t she?’ And they said ‘Yes, ‘” Hoffman said.
“For my daughter to go through what she has gone through, the only thing I can imagine is that she was yelling her daddy’s name. And it goes through my head over and over and over again. And there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said.
While attending McIntosh’s arraignment on Wednesday, Hoffman urged the judge to deny the teen bail.
When the judge explained McIntosh’s right to bail, Hoffman replied, “I hope he goes straight to hell.”