Five youngsters who shot dead 19-year-old intellectually disabled woman near Thunderbird Falls trail charged with murder
Five individuals have been arrested by the Alaska police and charged for the brutal murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman.
Hoffman had a developmental disability that caused her to operate intellectually at about a seventh-grade level. Hoffman's body was found on June 4 in the Eklutna River near the Thunderbird Falls trail and the police said that her feet were bound together by duct tape and she had been shot in the back of the head before being pushed into the river.
Caleb Leyland, 19, and two juveniles have been charged in connection with the June 2 death of Hoffman, according to the Anchorage Police Department. 18-year-old Denali Brehmer and another 16-year-old boy Kayden McIntosh were previously charged with first-degree murder, police said.
According to the police, the two others are a juvenile male and a juvenile female who were involved in the planning of this homicide with Brehmer and McIntosh. The adult male provided the vehicle for Brehmer and McIntosh to use on the day of the homicide. Leyland faces Murder 1 and Conspiracy to Commit Murder 1 while the two juvenile suspects were transported to McLaughlin Youth Center. Charges were forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Justice. During the course of this investigation, detectives discovered that Leyland sexually assaulted the juvenile female suspect, the police department said.
Anchorage Daily News reported that Leyland had told the police that he and the four others had agreed to kill Hoffman near Thunderbird Falls in the Chugiak area, but Brehmer and McIntosh had come to his house and told him that they had already shot and killed her on June 2. The report also said that the two accused took Hoffman to the falls under the pretense that they were going on a hike.
The suspects initially tried to throw off suspicion by using Hoffman’s cellphone to text her family so it appeared she was still alive and had gone to another location, investigators said. Then they drove to Lions Park in northeast Anchorage and burned Hoffman’s belongings.
“It was planned. The victim was targeted,” said M.J. Thim, spokesman for the Anchorage Police Department. As for motive, he said, "That’s another big question, why they targeted the victim,” he said. “This has rattled the community.”
The family of the victim has said that Cynthia and Brehmer had been friends for a while and that she wanted to make friends and felt vulnerable because of her condition. “My daughter trusted these people. My daughter just wanted friends,” Timothy Hoffman, her father said. “Now I have to bury her.”
"All I know is that my daughter didn’t deserve all this," Timothy said."‘She should have had the friends that she wanted. She shouldn’t have had people that wanted to plot against her. And the ages of these people? I think it is sick. And now they don’t have to live the nightmare that I have to live."
Brehmer, who has a daughter, told the court that she knew that what she had done was wrong. “I know I could have probably done something different,” she said, "I don’t want my daughter to know her mom grew up ... a killer because I don’t see myself as one,” she said.
Till now investigation and questioning of the suspects have failed to discover why the group of friends decided to target a vulnerable woman and lead her to her death.