Alaska Teen Who Confessed to Murdering 'Best Friend' Gets 30 Years for Filming Her Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Denali Brehmer
Denali Brehmer (above) got a 30-year sentence for a federal child pornography charge.Getty Images

An Indiana man directed Denali Brehmer to 'capture her sexual abuse of Minor Victim 1 by taking photographs and videos of actual and simulated [redacted] and the lascivious exhibition of the [redacted].'

An Alaska woman serving a 99-year sentence for murdering her so-called "best friend" will serve an additional 30 years in federal prison on a child pornography charge.

Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, then 18, filmed her friend killing Cynthia "CeeCee" Hoffman on June 2, 2019, after being catfished by a man in Indiana. That man, Darin Mitchell Schilmiller, allegedly offered to pay Brehmer "$9 million or more to commit the murder and send him videos and/or photographs of the murder," according to a criminal complaint obtained by Inside Edition Digital.

At the same time, Schilmiller also conspired with Brehmer to create child pornography, which led to both facing additional federal charges.

Brehmer and Schilmiller both entered a guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to produce child pornography back in July as part of a deal with prosecutors and on Monday a judge sentenced Brehmer to 30 years in prison, the maximum sentence for that charge. Schilmiller has not yet been sentenced for that crime but is serving 99 years for murder just like his accomplice.

The plea agreement signed by Brehmer details the actions that led to those federal charges.

"At the same time they were conspiring to murder Hoffman, the defendants formed an agreement to employ, use, persuade, and coerce 'Minor Victim 1,' a person who was and the defendants knew to be under the age of eighteen years at the time, to take part in sexually explicit conduct herself, and to assist another person to engage in sexually explicit conduct, for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct," the plea agreement says. "The defendants did so employ, use, persuade, and coerce Minor Victim 1, and created visual depictions of this conduct using a digital device that had previously moved in interstate and foreign commerce, in that SCHILMILLER directed BREHMER to capture her sexual abuse of Minor Victim 1 by taking photographs and videos of actual and simulated [redacted] and the lascivious exhibition of the [redacted] of Minor Victim 1."

The agreement notes that the minor was just 15 years old at the time.

Soon after filming that underage minor, Brehmer rounded up a few friends to help her carry out CeeCee's murder, according to the complaint.

One of those friends, Kayden McIntosh, later told detectives the three "were hanging out and all agreed to duct tape CeeCee and take photographs," according to the complaint.

CeeCee "started panicking and threatening to call the police on them," McIntosh told police, according to the complaint.

McIntosh allegedly said that he "shot CeeCee" and pushed her "twitching" body into a river, so he "does not know if she died from the gunshot wound or from drowning," alleges the complaint.

Brehmer took photos and video of the murder for Schilmiller, who she later learned did not have the money he promised, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors quickly linked the two masterminds from their cell phone records, according to the complaint and charged them and their accomplices with first-degree murder.

The first to enter a guilty plea in the case was Caleb Allen Russell Leyland, whom Brehmer promised to pay $500,000 for supplying her with a vehicle, according to the complaint. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in November and is facing anywhere from 25 to 75 years in person at his sentencing in June.

McIntosh’s case is pending trial. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

The judge overseeing the case said while passing down his sentence to Brehmer that the video of CeeCee's death was "one of the most difficult pieces of evidence I’ve had to watch in this position."

He then said that he hoped that sentencing Brehmer to 99 years with no credit for time served would be a deterrence to others.

Prosecutors in the child pornography case made similar remarks after Brehmer's sentencing on Monday.

“The harm Ms. Brehmer has caused to the victims and their families through the course of her conduct is unfathomable,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “My office will continue our unwavering commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to protect Alaska’s children and seek justice against perpetrators who choose to commit these reprehensible crimes.”

“This sentencing underscores the unrelenting efforts by law enforcement and prosecutors, at every level, to ensure that none of Brehmer’s ruthless crimes went unanswered or unpunished," said Kevin Vorndran, acting special agent in charge of the FBI Anchorage field office. 

 Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle, whose force teamed up with the FBI on the joint investigation into these child pornography charges, also spoke on the case on Monday.

“Denali Brehmer’s actions are beyond heinous,” Chief Kerle said. “Overcoming the trauma the victim suffered due to Brehmer’s actions will be a life-long journey. This case is an excellent example of why various law enforcement entities working together through the FBI’s child exploitation and human trafficking task force is so vitally important. Hopefully, today’s sentencing will aid the victim in their healing process.”

A lawyer for Brehmer, who is now required to register as a sex offender, did not respond to a request for comment.

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