When we think of catfish, we might think of lies and broken hearts. For the 19-year-old victim, Cynthia Hoffman, of Anchorage, Alaska, the frightening impact of an online catfish would lead to her death. The most tragic part of the crime was that the murderer would be her 18-year-old best friend, Denali Brehmer.
The Tragic Catfish Murder Case from Alaska
What drove Denali Brehmer to murder her dear, innocent friend with the help of other teen accomplices?
A man online, who went by the name Darin Schilmiller. He was 21 and lived in New Salisbury, Indiana. He told Denali that his name was “Tyler” and lied that he lived in Kansas and was a multi-millionaire.
What started as an online relationship between Brehmer and Schilmiller, going by the name “Tyler”, soon turned sinister. After the tragic murder, police began investigating.
As they searched through cellphone records, they found out the truth! “Tyler” had offered 9 million+ dollars to Brehmer, if he was sent photographs and video of Hoffman being murdered and raped.
Somehow Brehmer was enticed into participating in the dirty deed, perhaps out of greed or an unhealthy attachment to “Tyler”. She enlisted the assistance of 4 other friends ranging from age 16 to 19 (2 other juveniles were not named in court records, which could mean they are younger and have been tried as minors). The 16-year-old who participated in the crime, Caleb Leyland, told police that he was offered 500k for his role in the killing of Hoffman.
Sadly for Cynthia Hoffman, after being lured to a trail under the guise of a group hike with trusted friends, the murderous group bound Hoffman’s hands and feet and shot her in the head. To hide their crime, Denali sent a fake text to Hoffman’s family that she was at another state park and then deleted her correspondence with Darin Schilmiller.
Officials plan to extradite Schilmiller to Alaska, to face charges. He admitted to his murderous plans with Brehmer, discussed over three weeks, and that he intended on convincing his online girlfriend to rape other people next.
He also told police that he and Brehmer talked on Snapchat with photographs and videos, during the killing. He is also facing child pornography charges. Meanwhile, Brehmer confessed to being “solicited to commit murder”.
None of this stops the pain that Cynthia Hoffman’s family must now endure. As Cynthia’s father, Timothy Hoffman, relayed to reporters, his daughter didn’t deserve what happened, and he was sickened by the crime and age of the murderers.
Did this story terrify you as much as it did us? While all catfish are alarming, this is not the only case where a catfish have tricked someone into committing a murder. To protect yourself, your family and friends spread the word! Identity fact checks anyone you connect with online.
This means doing a search of online connection’s name(s), email address(es), photograph(s), username(s), and phone number(s). Be safe, don’t be sorry! Run a fast, easy, and private algorithm fueled background check at Social Catfish today!