'Witch cult' leader sentenced over gruesome Tinder murder
A man who was convicted of killing and dismembering a woman he met through a dating app has been sentenced to death.
In 2019, Aubrey Trail was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit murder, after killing Sydney Loofe in 2017.
Prosecutors said at trial that Trail and his girlfriend Bailey Boswell had been planning to kill someone before Boswell met the 24-year-old Loofe on Tinder and lured her to them.
At the time, Loofe was working as a cashier at a Menards store in Lincoln.
Loofe’s body parts were found in garbage bags, cut into 14 pieces and left in ditches along country roads in rural Clay County in Nebraska.
In his statement to the court, Trail, 54, recanted his earlier claim that Loofe died of erotic asphyxiation during rough sex and admitted that he strangled her with an electric cord, as prosecutors had alleged.
He said he tied up Loofe and killed her because she “freaked out” when he told her about his lifestyle, which included defrauding antique dealers and group sex with Boswell and other women.
According to The Independent, Trail was referred to as the "vampire leader" of a "witch cult" by witnesses who remained anonymous during the trial.
“I had no doubt she would tell people if I let her go,” said Trail, who was handcuffed, clad in orange jail garb and sat in a wheelchair throughout the sentencing.
Trail didn’t apologise to Loofe’s family in the courtroom, saying it “would be an insult to you for what I’ve put you through,” but he said killing her was the only thing he has done in his life that he regrets.
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“I am not looking for mercy, forgiveness, or anything else,” he said.
Trail admitted that he repeatedly lied to authorities and plotted to kill Loofe two to three hours before he carried out the murder.
However, he asserted his girlfriend Boswell was not in the room and claims she didn't know anything about the murder.
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Saline County District Court Judge Vicky Johnson said the murder met the legal standard of “exceptional depravity” necessary to impose the ultimate punishment.
She noted that Trail — who changed his story numerous times — bragged about the murder and implied to investigators that he and Boswell drank Loofe’s blood.
Evidence also showed he bought a hacksaw, tools and bleach before the killing.
“Trail’s words and actions demonstrate he had no regard for the life of Sydney Loofe beyond his own personal pleasures,” Johnson said.
Trail becomes the 12th man on death row in Nebraska, a state that rarely carries out executions, currently lacks the drugs it needs to do so and isn’t likely to get them anytime soon.
Trail missed much of his own trial after slashing his neck in the courtroom in 2019 and yelling, “Bailey is innocent, and I curse you all.”
Authorities said Trail and Boswell were captured on video at a Home Depot in Lincoln on November 15 2017, buying tools used to dismember Loofe, hours before her death and while she was still at work.
In court documents, Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Sandra Allen said Trail has a history of “serious assaultive or terrorising criminal activity” and that Loofe’s murder “manifested exceptional depravity by ordinary standards of morality and intelligence.”
Boswell was convicted in October of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and improper disposal of human remains for her role in Loofe’s death.
Prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty for Boswell; a three-judge panel will start hearing evidence to determine her fate on June 30.
with Associated Press
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