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

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.


Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

Updated 16 November 2019

Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

  • Wildlife ranger Craig Dickmann made a split-second decision to go fishing in a remote part of Northern Australia known as ‘croc country.’
  • ‘That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws’

CAIRNS, Australia: An Australian wildlife ranger has recounted his terrifying escape from the clutches of a “particularly cunning” crocodile, after wrestling with the reptile and sticking a finger in its eye.
Craig Dickmann, who made a split-second decision to go fishing last Sunday in a remote part of Northern Australia known as “croc country” last Sunday, said a 2.8-meter (nine-foot) crocodile came up from behind him as he was leaving the beach.
“As I’ve turned to go, the first thing I see is its head just come at me,” he told reporters on Friday from his hospital bed in the town of Cairns in Queensland state.
Dickmann said the animal latched on to his thigh.
“That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws,” he said.
The 54-year-old said he wrestled with the croc on the remote beach as it tried to drag him into the water.
Dickmann stuck his thumb into its eye, saying it was the only “soft spot” he found on the “bullet-proof” animal.
“Their eyes retract a fair way and when you go down far enough you can feel bone so I pushed as far as I possibly could and then it let go at that point,” Dickmann said.
After a few minutes, he said he managed to get on top of the croc and pin its jaws shut.
“And then, I think both the croc and I had a moment where we’re going, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Dickmann said he then pushed the croc away from him and it slid back into the water.
The ranger had skin ripped from his hands and legs in the ordeal and drove more than 45 minutes back to his home before calling emergency services.
It was then another hour in the car to meet the Royal Flying Doctors Service who flew him to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering from the ordeal.
“This croc was particularly cunning and particularly devious,” he said.
Queensland’s department of environment this week euthanized the animal.
“The area is known croc country and people in the area are reminded to always be crocwise,” the department said in a statement.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a ton, are common in the vast continent’s tropical north.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with attacks on humans rare.
According to the state government, the last non-fatal attack was in January 2018 in the Torres Strait while the last death was in October 2017 in Port Douglas.