Another killer of Cynthia Hoffman gets plea deal: Murder in second degree

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On Thanksgiving eve, 24-year-old Caleb Allen Russell Leyland pleaded guilty to the murder of 19-year-old Cynthia “CeCe” Hoffman, who in June of 2019 was lured to the Thunderbird Falls trail, where she was bound and gagged with duct tape, shot once in the back of the head and thrown into the Eklutna River by five who had plotted to murder her.

Appearing before Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson, Leyland admitted to just one count of murder in the second degree. Second-degree murder is typically murder with malicious intent but not premeditated. Charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder were dropped in exchange for the second-degree guilty plea.

The crime orchestrated by the group of teenagers was masterminded by an out-of-state man named Darin Schilmiller, who conned the teens into committing the murder in exchange for money. Leyland was 19 at the time he took part in the crime.

The plot was locally hatched by CeCe Hoffman’s friend, Denali Brehmer, in her online relationship with Schilmiller, who was going by the name of “Tyler” and who said he was from Kansas. “Tyler” sent Brehmer a photograph of another young male, saying the photo was of himself: “Tyler” also convinced Brehmer that he was a millionaire.

Darin Schilmiller

As Schilmiller and Brehmer continued chatting online, they developed a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska. Schilmiller offered Brehmer $9 million to carry out the murder and to have photographs or videos of the murder sent to him. Brehmer agreed to commit the murder and solicited four friends, including Leyland, 16-year-old Kayden McIntosh and two other juveniles to assist her in planning and carrying out the murder.

“Digital evidence and statements show Brehmer was communicating with and sending videos and/or photographs of the events surrounding the incident to Schilmiller at his directive throughout the duration of the event,” the Alaska Department of Law wrote.

McIntosh is the one who is accused of actually pulling the trigger on the weapon. He has had several court appearances since February; the next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Murder victim Cynthia Hoffman. Photo source: Facebook.

Schilmiller, of New Salisbury, Indiana, took a plea deal in August when the first-degree and second-degree murder, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charges were dropped, as he pleaded to first-degree solicitation of murder. There is wasn’t an agreement at the time between the prosecutors and Schilmiller regarding any specific term of imprisonment.

Judge Peterson may sentence Schilmiller to a term of imprisonment of no less than five years and no more than 99 years. Sentencing for Schilmiller is scheduled to begin Jan. 8, 2024, in front of Judge Peterson.

The terms of the Leyland’s plea agreement allow for a maximum term of imprisonment of 75 years, with 25 years suspended, potentially leading to a 50-year sentence. The sentencing phase is scheduled to start on June 10, 2024, with Judge Peterson presiding.

Leyland remains in the custody of the Alaska Department of Corrections, with no possibility of release under any conditions.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for reporting this story Suzanne.
    Unfortunately there will come a time when nothing more will be heard about the fate of a purely innocent young girl who’s life was brutally cut very short at the hands and minds of the sickest forms of humans.

    Parents and children need to be reminded of this horrible tragedy often enough to make parents think about what their teenagers are up to and who they are associating with. I doubt that any one of these monsters would have committed this type of crime on their own. It took a gang of illiterates to go along with the phony mastermind of the plot who should NEVER again see the light of day. But unfortunately he will.
    Parents of juveniles need to be held accountable in some way shape or form who commit such heinous crimes such as this.
    Prisons are way too plush and time in is way too easy. I have heard reports from prison guards and inmates that drug use in Alaska’s system is rampant and common for inmates to use any and all drugs of choice. What ever happened to the prisoner work projects? They should be working 6 ten hour shifts per week to pay for their plush accommodations. Using the man(and woman) power they have Department of corrections could be operating a farm that could produce enough food to supply ALL the schools in the state with the type of food that sustains healthy lifestyles and not the crap they currently serve.
    I would also make a bet that the percentage of repeat offenders would be drasticly reduced when they realize work to pay for incarceration is MANDATORY.

  2. This is outrageous that a plea deal was even contemplated. I hope everyone speaks out. And work farms should be implemented immediately. Education should be accessible but only after work duty. I hope these monsters get the real punishment in prison.

    • When there’s a prosecutor, a court appointed defense and a judge that all essentially work for the same company there’s a layer of artifice that you may not notice until you’re too close. Call them on their BS and you’ll be reprimanded despite having been right and when the case closes you notice that everyone but those three walked in strikingly disappointed and often carrying a lifetime of harm on their shoulders. They walked in disappointed and they walked out disappointed and harmed to a greater degree.

      Conversely, the three ‘esteemed coworkers’ walk out with a lightness in their step and the same question on their minds. Lunch; will it be the steak or the salmon?

      There are instances where rule of man allows for a preferred and superior outcome and George Carlin touched on the concept years ago when he referred to the feminization of the American male. He may have spelled the verb differently.

      Think of our legal system as a group of little boys sitting in a sandbox; none can dictate to the others what will happen next so whatever they decide upon will be the weakest dilution of what all agree upon. A flacid system of enforcement leads to a limp future wherein the wrong group are treated better than the others.

  3. Extremely mixed-up young people. Social media and the internet. Ideas from movies. Lousy parenting, if any. This is what is happening as a result of:
    no discipline, no Christian faith or Christian values, LGBTQ brainwashing. I bet they are from Democrat families.

  4. Humans fledging from the nest are vulnerable. Not all make it. When society degrades the lifetime project of rearing youngsters may have greater exposure to spiritual tragedies. Alaska is a particularly spiritually puerile environment to raise family unfortunately.

  5. What the story doesn’t mention is there was serious child porn involved in this. What a sorry a—- bunch. Denali Boehner was molesting children and sending pics/vids whatever to Schillmiller who posed as a rich Chad type young guy from Kansas.

    In reality Schillmiller was a fat, poor, ugly, retarded, porn addicted loser (literal description) from …I’m sorry to admit…my small town of New Salisbury Indiana. I didn’t know him but he was familiar as we only live about 2 miles apart, I think I saw him at our one single grocery store etc. (we have 1 bank, 2 gas stations, 1 grocery store, 1 ice cream place, 1 dollar general , 1 dollar tree, a few used car places, a few mechanics and a mobile home business…that’s about it in economic activity)

    ‘https://www.wthr.com/article/news/crime/alaska-woman-denali-brehmer-catfished-by-indiana-man-darin-schilmiller-pleads-guilty-murder/531-05fae263-482d-4f60-a004-0f6ddd737b66

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