Alaska Tragedy: Woman Who Killed Best Friend in Catfish Scheme Sentenced to 99 Years

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The jury found 24-year-old Denali Brehmer of Alaska guilty of taking part in a plot to assassinate her best friend, Cynthia Hoffman, for hire. Brehmer was sentenced to 99 years in prison. 

The tragic incident unfolded when Brehmer, having fallen victim to catfishing, conspired with others to carry out the murder in exchange for a promised $9 million.

Brehmer pleaded guilty to murder in 2023, admitting her involvement in the death of Hoffman, whose body was discovered on the Eklutna River in Chugiak on June 2, 2019. Hoffman had been shot, killed, and found bound with duct tape. 

The motive behind the murder traces back to an online encounter with a man posing as Tyler, a supposed millionaire from Kansas. In reality, Tyler was Darin Schilmiller, a 21-year-old man from Indiana, who deceived Brehmer and offered her $9 million to record the killing.

Brehmer, not acting alone, recruited four others, including Kayden McIntosh, Caleb Leyland, and two juveniles, to assist in the execution of Hoffman’s murder. 

Online Deception Thrives in Alaska’s Wilds

alaska-tragedy-woman-who-killed-best-friend-in-catfish-scheme-sentenced-to-99-years
The jury found 24-year-old Denali Brehmer of Alaska guilty of taking part in a plot to assassinate her best friend, Cynthia Hoffman, for hire. Brehmer was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The unwitting victim was lured in with the promise of going on a hiking trip along the Thunderbird Falls path under false pretenses.

Schilmiller, who received a 99-year prison sentence earlier this year, was found guilty of orchestrating the crime and soliciting child pornography from Brehmer. 

A judge characterized Brehmer’s actions as cold, calculated, and carried out to a ‘T’, emphasizing that despite her being a minor at the time, the gravity of the offense was far 

beyond a youthful indiscretion.

On June 10, Leyland is scheduled to get a sentence following his guilty plea to second-degree murder; McIntosh’s case is still ongoing. Juvenile court proceedings were pending against the other two individuals from Alaska who were suspected of being involved in the case. 

The horrifying catfishing incident in Alaska serves as a stark reminder of the terrible effects of internet deceit as well as the extent to which people can be tricked into carrying out horrible deeds.

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