Accused killer's family speaks out on teen's death, charges

Published: Jun. 28, 2019 at 1:42 PM AKDT
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The family of one six individuals accused in the death of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman is speaking out, expressing shock at the crime, and compassion for Hoffman's family.

At 21-years-old, Darin Schilmiller is the oldest suspect among the six people charged in the bizarre murder conspiracy surrounding Hoffman's death the weekend of June 2. Prosecutors accuse the group of six, which includes Schilmiller and five teenagers from the Anchorage area, of planning and carrying out Hoffman's kidnapping and execution-style murder.

Hoffman was bound with duct tape, shot in the head and pushed into a stream at Thunderbird Falls, a scenic roadside pull off and hiking area north of Anchorage.

KTUU received the statement via email June 20 but delayed its publication until the statement could be verified. The Schilmillers live in a small farming community in Indiana close to the Kentucky border.

After graduating from North Harrison High School in 2017, Darin Schilmiller continued to live with his father in the family home where he was arrested.

Members of Schilmiller's extended and immediate family, who did not wish to be identified, released this statement after Hoffman's funeral and as the criminal cases continued to progress (Schilmiller, along with co-defendant Denali Brehmer, faces state and federal charges):

"Darin Schilmiller was born as Darin Thomas. He is a low-functioning individual, which was apparent at an early age. His biological family did not want him. He was subsequently adopted into the Schilmiller family in an attempt to provide a better life for a child. We had no knowledge of what was happening nor did we believe he was mentally and morally capable of carrying out these actions. We are mortified this is attached to our name. Our family is disgusted and hopes justice is served. We want the victims’ families to know our thoughts and prayers are with them. As bad as our embarrassment may be, it pales in comparison to the tragedy they have to endure."

Timothy Hoffman, Cynthia Hoffman's father, has placed his daughter's ashes on a shelf in the family home, alongside the remains of an infant son he and his wife lost many years ago.

Prosecutors allege Schilmiller and Brehmer were in a romantic - but deceptive - long-distance relationship. Schilmiller was using a fake profile and fake name, and claimed to be a millionaire, they said. The couple traded "I love you"s, and conspired to commit the killing, with Brehmer sending updates to Schilmiller during the crime by phone, according to investigators.

Schilmiller never left Indiana, and Brehmer, 18, and Kayden McIntosh, 16, were the only suspects present when Hoffman was killed, according to court documents filed in support of the criminal charges.

In a case separate from the murder conspiracy, Schilmiller and Brehmer face federal child pornography charges.

Defendant Caleb Leyland, 19, had also faced criminal charges in a separate case filed as the murder investigation unfolded. State prosecutors accused him of sexual abuse of a minor, stemming from their discovery he'd been intimate with a 15-year-old girl. All charges, in that case, have since been dropped.

Meanwhile, Brehmer, Leyland, and McIntosh remain in custody, as does Schilmiller, who will be transported to Alaska for trial. Two additional teens are charged as juveniles.

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