Defendant in Anchorage teen’s homicide case now faces federal child porn charges

Denali Brehmer, 18, is one of several teenagers charged in the murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

New federal charges have been filed against two people involved in the June 2 murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman in Anchorage.

Eighteen-year-old Denali Brehmer and 16-year-old Kayden McIntosh are charged in state court with first-degree murder for allegedly leading Hoffman to a trail at Thunderbird Falls near Anchorage. There, the charges say, they bound Hoffman and McIntosh shot her. Nineteen-year-old Caleb Leyland has also been charged as an accomplice to the murder, along with two other unnamed minors.

After initial charges, separate subsequent filings in state and federal court filed last week connected 21-year-old Indiana man Darin Schilmiller to the case. Schilmiller allegedly contacted Brehmer posing as a millionaire, in a case of what prosecutors called “catfishing”. According to the federal charges, Schilmiller prompted Brehmer to record images of child sexual abuse, and the state charges against him say he had offered $9 million to Brehmer to kill and sexually assault Hoffman.

Schilmiller has also been indicted on first-degree murder charges, as well as on federal child pornography charges.

On Tuesday, federal authorities announced Brehmer also now faces federal child porn charges. Among the charges are solicitation and production of child pornography and a charge against Schilmiller for coercion and enticement of a minor.

Jeffery Peterson is the FBI special agent in charge in Alaska. He says that Schillmiller had been apprehended less than 36 hours after Alaska authorities implicated him in the crime.

At a press conference Tuesday, Peterson had a message for anyone engaging in similar criminal activity.

“If you’re listening to my voice, not in Alaska but somewhere else, and you’re sitting in your mom’s basement, and you’re planning to do some type of crime — influence, plan or conduct a crime in Alaska — and you think you’re safe because you’re that far away, you’re not,” Peterson said. “We will track you down. We will find you. And we will bring you back here to face justice”

Schilmiller is being extradited to Alaska, and he should arrive in the state to face the charges by July.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Denali Brehmer is 18 years old, not 19.