Records: Harrison County man offered to pay teens $9M to commit murder, take photos

Investigators say New Albany man helped mastermind the murder of a young woman in Alaska

NEW SALISBURY, Ind. (WAVE) – Investigators said a man from New Albany helped mastermind the murder of a young woman thousands of miles away in Anchorage, Alaska.

Friday, a grand jury indicted Darin Schilmiller in the death of Cynthia Hoffman, including charges of murder and solicitation to commit murder. WAVE 3 News first reported on Schilmiller’s arrest on Thursday after prosecutors arrested the southern Indiana man on child porn charges.

Investigators released new documents arguing Schilmiller had been catfishing one of the women accused in the murder. Charging documents said Denali Brehmer, 18, in Alaska, thought she was talking to a man named Tyler, from Kansas, sending her a photo of another man and convincing her he was a millionaire.

(Read the documents at the bottom of this page)

During that online relationship, they began planning to rape and murder someone, detectives said. In the court documents, Brehmer told investigators he offered her $9 million or more to carry out the murder and have photos and videos of it sent to him online.

The court records detail case you’d expect to find in a movie or crime novel instead of rural Indiana.

Schilmiller, 21, is from New Salisbury, a small town in Harrison County. He attended North Harrison High School in Ramsey, graduating in 2017. Just two years later, the Alaska Department of Law alleges that Schilmiller convinced Brehmer to commit a murder.

Court records said Brehmer then enlisted four friends -- 19-year-old Caleb Leyland, 16-year-old Kayden McIntosh and two juveniles -- telling them they would “receive substantial shares of money for their part of the planning and execution of the murder.”

Hoffman, Brehmer’s best friend, was selected to be the murder victim.

According to court records, it was on June 2 that they carried out the plan, with McIntosh and Brehmer taking Hoffman on a hike before binding her hands, feet and head with duct tape. McIntosh then allegedly shot her in the back of the head with Brehmer’s gun. Hoffman’s body was put into the Eklutna River.

Court records said Brehmer was talking with Schilmiller the entire time, “sending him Snapchat photographs and videos of Hoffman tied up and of the body afterward.”

Schilmiller told investigators, according to court records, that he and Brehmer talked about murdering someone else after Hoffman and that he blackmailed Brehmer into raping people.

Schilmiller was originally arrested and charged with production and receipt of child pornography, when investigators found child porn on Brehmer’s phone that she’d sent to him. Friday, a grand jury indicted Schilmiller and five others in Hoffman’s murder.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska, Schilmiller is being held in federal custody and is awaiting extradition to Alaska.

Schilmiller is charged with Brehmer and four others for their alleged roles in the murder of Cynthia Hoffman. If convicted, he could face 99 years in prison for each charge. WAVE 3 News’ affiliate in Anchorage, KTUU, reported the other defendants in the case will be arraigned together Tuesday.

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