A woman confessed to the murder of her “best friend” after a catfish offered her millions of dollars to send him photos and videos of the killing.
Cynthia Hoffman, 19, was shot in the back of the head in June 2019 after being targeted by 22-year-old Denali Brehmer, the Alaska Department of Law said.
Brehmer and her accomplices then dumped the body in the Eklutna River, 27 miles north-east of Anchorage.
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Brehmer, who was 18 at the time of the crime, had begun planning the killing when a man she met online offered her money in exchange for evidence of her carrying out a murder, the Anchorage district attorney's office said.
The man, who Brehmer knew as Tyler, was actually a catfish and had created a false persona as a Kansas millionaire. Authorities said he is actually Darin Schilmiller from Indiana.
Court documents note that Brehmer and Schilmiller planned a number of crimes in exchange for money, among them the “rape and murder of someone in Alaska”.
Brehmer recruited friends Kayden McIntosh, Caleb Leyland and two unnamed juveniles to help carry out the murder and chose Hoffman as the target, promising her accomplices “substantial shares of money”.
Brehmer and two of the teens invited Hoffman to Thunderbird Falls for a hiking trip but instead bound her hands, feet and mouth with duct tape before shooting her and disposing of the body in the nearby river.
Brehmer sent photos and videos to Schilmiller as the crime was being committed, authorities said.
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After the execution, the group destroyed some of Hoffman's possessions and sent a text to her parents saying that they had dropped her off at a park.
Police said that there was no evidence of Hoffman being sexually assaulted.
The Alaska Department of Law said in a statement that Brehmer "admitted the facts contained in the complaint initially filed in the case".
Brehmer was arrested in 2019 and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree solicitation of murder, tampering with physical evidence and two charges of second-degree murder.
After pleading guilty to first-degree murder, the other charges were dropped. She faces a term of 30 to 99 years behind bars when she is sentenced in August.
According to online court records, Schilmiller was arrested and indicted on five murder counts, while McIntosh and Leyland were indicted on four murder counts.
All three have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that Hoffman’s family believe she was targeted because of a learning disability that "put her at a younger developmental age than her 19 years".
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