Promised $9 million online, US teen killed ‘best friend’: police

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Suspect Rhett McKenzie Nelson appears in Los Angeles Superior court Thursday, June 13, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP)
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Suspect Rhett McKenzie Nelson talks to an attorney as he appears in Los Angeles Superior court, Thursday, June 13, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Promised $9 million online, US teen killed ‘best friend’: police

  • Court documents say Schilmiller admitted to attempting to blackmail Brehmer after the murder into sexually assaulting young girls

LOS ANGELES: An American teenager has been charged with conspiring to murder her “best friend” after a man she met online offered her $9 million to commit the crime.
According to investigators, Denali Brehmer, an 18-year-old from Alaska, was recruited to kill her friend by a man a few years her elder, 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller of Indiana.
The pair had previously hooked up online, with Schilmiller assuming a fake identity and posing as a millionaire named “Tyler.”
Court documents say that during the course of their online relationship, they discussed a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska.
Schilmiller promised Brehmer $9 million or more to send him videos or photographs of the macabre attack.
Brehmer then proceeded to recruit four friends and the group settled on Cynthia Hoffman — described as one of Brehmer’s best friends — as their victim.
On June 2, authorities say 19-year-old Hoffman was lured to a hiking trail northeast of Anchorage where she was bound with duct tape and shot once in the back of the head before being pushed into a river.
Her body was discovered on June 4.
Local news reports said Hoffman’s father has described his daughter as having a learning disability and the mindset of a 12-year-old.
Police say the victim was driven to Thunderbird Falls by Brehmer and Kayden McIntosh, a 16-year-old boy, under the guise of going on a riverside hike.
McIntosh allegedly shot Hoffman with Brehmer’s gun and dumped her body in the water.
Authorities say Brehmer communicated with Schilmiller throughout the murder, sending him “Snapchat photographs and videos of Hoffman tied up and of the body afterward.”
Both Brehmer and McIntosh have been arrested and charged in relation to the murder. Schilmiller has also been arrested along with three others accused of assisting in the planning or execution of the killing.
A grand jury last Friday indicted all six defendants for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, two counts of second-degree murder and other charges.
Schilmiller and Brehmer were also indicted on Tuesday on federal child pornography and child exploitation charges.
Police said that a search on Brehmer’s phone during their investigation into Hoffman’s death revealed that the teen — at Schilmiller’s direction — had produced videos depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a minor and sent them to Schilmiller.
Court documents say Schilmiller admitted to attempting to blackmail Brehmer after the murder into sexually assaulting young girls.
Both face up to life in prison on the child pornography charges.
They also face up to 99 years in prison for each of the murder charges, the conspiracy to commit murder charge, and the solicitation to commit murder charge.


Why ‘Gone With the Wind’ eclipses both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avatar’

Updated 22 July 2019
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Why ‘Gone With the Wind’ eclipses both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avatar’

  • The $402 million taken in by “Gone with the Wind” after its 1939 release places it in a paltry 285th position in raw dollar terms
  • That compares to $2.7902 billion for “Avengers: Endgame,” which this weekend just squeaked past the “Avatar” total of $2.7897

NEW YORK: Even as Disney confirmed Sunday that “Avengers: Endgame” had become the top-grossing movie ever, film historians noted that “Gone With the Wind” still has a strong case for being the most successful film of all time.
The $402 million taken in by “Gone with the Wind” after its 1939 release places it in a paltry 285th position in raw dollar terms. But that ignores the huge role of price inflation over time.
The epic historic romance, set during and after the US Civil War, sold the enormous 215 million tickets in the United States, far and away the record in that category, according to the Internet Movie Database. It’s box office was boosted by seven national releases between 1939 and 1974.
“Gone with the Wind” would have sold $1.958 billion worth of tickets today in the US market alone, based on what the National Association of Theatre Owners says was an average US ticket price in 2018 of $9.11.
Worldwide, and with inflation taken into account, the film would have taken in a stunning $3.44 billion, the Guinness Book of World Records has estimated.
That compares to $2.7902 billion for “Avengers: Endgame,” which this weekend just squeaked past the “Avatar” total of $2.7897.
Consider also that the US population in 1939 was a mere 130 million, roughly 200 million less than today.
For some, however, the success of the epic film — it runs three hours and 58 minutes — is troubling.
With a story line based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, some historians see it as one of the most ambitious and successful examples of Southern revisionism.
Immediately after the Civil War (1861-1865), there was a broad push in the US South to cast the formerly slave-holding region in a softer light.
Those purveying the so-called “Lost Cause” ideology insisted that the Southern states had fought not to preserve slavery, but because the North was infringing on their political independence.
Yet in their declarations of secession from the Union, the Southern states were clear about their primary motive: the Northern states’ refusal to extradite escaped slaves and their “increasing hostility... to the institution of slavery,” as South Carolina’s declaration stated.
“Slavery is not even a critical issue in the movie,” said Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help,” about black maids in the South in the early 1960s.
“You have these African-Americans that are working for these white families, and it’s as if it’s just their job... something they chose to do,” Stockett says in the documentary “Old South, New South.”
For Randy Sparks, a Tulane University history professor, “Gone With the Wind” exemplifies the way Southerners were able to impose their version of events.
“There aren’t many cases in history,” Sparks said, “where the losers write the history.”
It was thanks to “Gone With the Wind” that in 1940 Hattie McDaniel, who plays Scarlett O’Hara’s faithful slave “Mammy,” won the first Oscar awarded to a black actress.
But racial segregation was still deeply rooted in Hollywood, as in many parts of American society, and on Oscar night McDaniel had to sit at a small table in the rear of the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel, far from the film’s big stars, Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable.
Producer David O. Selznick had to intervene personally to secure her a room in the Ambassador, which refused to admit black customers until 1959.