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WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT

The mastermind of a vicious “catfish” murder-for-hire scheme that baited teens into “assassinating” a “vulnerable” 19-year-old woman cried in court when the judge sentenced him to 99 years in prison.

Darin Schilmiller faced five to 99 years in prison, but his waterworks didn’t faze Alaska Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson, who opted for the harshest punishment because he’s “a worst offender.”

“You plotted with other co-defendants to kill somebody you never met, for no reason other than the sheer thrill of controlling others and seeing it be done,” Peterson told Schilmiller during last week’s sentencing for Cynthia “CeeCee” Hoffman’s murder.

“One down,” Hoffman’s dad, Timothy Hoffman, said after the sentencing, according to “Inside Edition.”

ALASKAN TEENS CHARGED WITH MURDER AFTER PHONY MULTI-MILLIONAIRE OFFERS $9M FOR PROOF OF SLAYING

Cynthia Hoffman, 19, was killed in 2019 as part of a “catfish” murder-for-hire plot in which an Indiana man dangled fake millions for a video of someone’s murder. Alaskan teens took the bait. (Family handout)

Schilmiller was a 19-year-old Indiana resident in 2019 when he concocted his twisted plot to get videos of child pornography and a “real-life” murder, according to court filings.

He posed as a 20-year-old, handsome Kansas man named “Tyler,” used a bogus picture online and offered to pay millions of dollars to whoever sent him these videos, court documents say.

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Police said a group of Alaska teens took the bait and pretended to befriend Hoffman, who was described as vulnerable and developmentally disabled, and took her on a nature hike in rural Anchorage, Alaska, “Inside Edition” reported.

That’s where they bound her arms and legs with duct tape, shot her in the back of the head and pushed her body in a creek, according to court documents.

Then they burned all her belongings, including her clothes and ID. 

Darin Schilmiller in court during his sentencing

Darin Schilmiller, now 25 (far left in yellow), was sentenced to 99 years in prison. (Patty Sullivan/Alaska Department of Law)

Hoffman’s father remembered how happy his daughter was the day the murderous group’s ringleader, Denali Brehmer, pretended to be her best friend. 

“She came home and bragged, ‘Dad, I finally have a friend,” he testified through tears. 

Brehmer, now 23, pleaded guilty last February to first-degree murder and admitted to coordinating “CeeCee’s” death, according to court filings. 

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Brehmer and Hoffman went into the wooded area in rural Anchorage with Caleb Leyland, now 24, and Kayden McIntosh, now 20, who were all charged in Hoffman’s murder.

Leyland pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder, and McIntosh, who allegedly pulled the trigger, pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. 

Brehmer’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12, and Leyland’s sentencing is scheduled for June 10. McIntosh’s trial date hasn’t been set yet.

Alaska teens who killed Cynthia Hoffman

Denali Brehmer, 18, Kayden McIntosh, 16, Caleb Leyland, 19, and two other unnamed juveniles were arraigned in the June 2, 2019, slaying of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Anchorage police Detective Leonard Torres testified that Brehmer was the “main perpetrator” during his testimony, according to “Inside Edition.”

She was “the one that was able to come up with the plan and manipulate everybody else into following it,” he said.

The disturbing plot that started it all

Before any of the Alaskan teens entered the picture, there was Schilmiller and his sickening plot “for thrills” and an urge to satisfy a sexual fetish, federal court documents say. 

He offered Brehmer make-believe millions of dollars that he claimed he won in the lottery to film sexual assaults of girls – one who was 8 or 9 years old at the time, and the other victim was 15. 

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Schilmiller gave specific instructions to Brehmer on what he wanted and how to pose the victims in text exchanges, which were detailed in the court documents (but not included in this report due to the graphic nature).

The child pornography aspect of the case was handled by the FBI and federal prosecutors, in conjunction with Anchorage police, because the crime crossed over several state lines.

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During the investigation into Hoffman’s murder, investigators uncovered texts as well as the pictures and videos of the underage victims in June 2019.

That quickly led to Schilmiller’s and Brehmer’s arrests, which were announced by the FBI’s Anchorage 0ffice on June 19, 2019. 



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