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New child porn charges against defendants in Anchorage teen's murder

Michelle Theriault Boots and Madeline McGee, Anchorage Daily News on

Published in News & Features

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted two of the defendants in the killing of Anchorage teenager Cynthia Hoffman on new child pornography charges.

The indictments represent the latest twist in a tangled case involving a group of young people whose intense online relationship, prosecutors say, crossed over into real-world murder and sexual assault.

"For all the good the internet can do, it can be a very dark place," said Bryan Schroder, the U.S. attorney in Alaska, at a news conference in Anchorage on Tuesday. "Parents would be wise to monitor the activity of their children online."

Denali Brehmer, 18, now faces four federal child pornography charges in addition to state murder charges.

Darin Schilmiller, a 21-year-old Indiana man who prosecutors contend offered Brehmer $9 million to "rape and murder someone in Alaska," was also included in the indictment announced Tuesday.

He'd already been arrested on federal child pornography offenses last week. The new indictment includes five federal charges against Schilmiller, including conspiracy to produce child pornography, production of child pornography, receipt and distribution of child pornography. Schilmiller is also charged with coercion and enticement of a minor.

 

The two are facing state murder charges in the shooting death of Hoffman, a developmentally disabled 19-year-old Service High School graduate whose family has said they considered Brehmer to be her best friend. Four other teens have been charged in her killing.

Prosecutors assert Brehmer was at the center of a plot to kill Hoffman at the behest of Schilmiller, who she was communicating with online.

In what prosecutors have characterized as a "catfishing" scheme, Schilmiller posed online as a millionaire named "Tyler" who lived in Kansas, court documents say.

Hoffman was taken to the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in Chugiak where she was bound with duct tape, shot and left on the Eklutna River on June 2, according to charges.

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