WILBER, Neb. — Finally, details began to emerge Tuesday about a gruesome slaying six months ago in this Czech farm town.
Court documents released Tuesday indicate that Sydney Loofe, a 24-year-old Lincoln Menard’s clerk who disappeared in November after going on a Tinder date, was strangled with an electrical cord.
Her body, the records say, was dismembered and left along a gravel road in garbage bags by her “date,” Bailey Boswell, and Boswell’s boyfriend, Aubrey Trail.
And perhaps most chilling — several hours before meeting for that date, surveillance cameras show Boswell and Trail buying tools and supplies that authorities believe were used to cut up and dispose of Loofe’s body.
Loofe’s remains were found on Dec. 4 and 5, about three weeks after she went on a date with Boswell on Nov. 15.
Trail, 53, and Boswell, 24, were both charged Monday with first-degree murder and abandoning human skeletal remains. Tuesday, the two made their first appearances in court.
“Finally,” said Scott Havel, as he worked behind the counter of his Wilber business, Frank’s Smokehouse. “Hopefully, it will provide some closure for (Loofe’s) family. It’s a sad, sad deal.”
Loofe’s parents, George and Susie Loofe, declined to comment Tuesday. Several friends of the Loofes attended Tuesday’s brief court hearing but also declined to speak to reporters.
Trail has served two stints in Nebraska prisons for bad checks and fraud. Boswell is a former high school basketball star from Leon, Iowa, who was living with Trail.
A Wilber convenience store clerk who became acquainted with Boswell expressed shock at Tuesday’s revelations.
“She was really friendly,” Christy Ditch said. “It’s mind-boggling to me.”
Prosecutors said they were considering seeking the death penalty but won’t announce their decision until later. The heinous nature of a slaying could mean that it qualifies for capital punishment. Another qualifier is if a killing was used to conceal another crime.
According to the court records released Tuesday, Loofe was strangled by Trail the night of Nov. 15-16, during the second of two dates she had arranged with Boswell via the dating app Tinder. Boswell had used the name “Audrey” on the app, and the two exchanged 140 messages, over four days, leading up to the fatal night.
Loofe was still alive and had not yet gone to work on Nov. 15 when surveillance cameras captured Trail and Boswell inside a north Lincoln Home Depot store about 10:35 a.m. buying the tools and supplies “believed to have been used in the dismemberment and disposal” of Loofe’s body, according to court records.
About eight hours later, Boswell arrived at Loofe’s northeast Lincoln home, according to cellphone records. The last activity on Loofe’s phone occurred about 90 minutes later, in Wilber, about 35 miles southwest of Lincoln.
Authorities made the link between Loofe and Boswell via their Tinder accounts. On Nov. 16, the day Loofe was reported missing, Boswell and Trail’s landlord, who lived upstairs from them, reported a strong odor of bleach coming from their basement apartment in Wilber.
Trail, in calls to The World-Herald and other news outlets, had acknowledged that he was responsible for Loofe’s death. But he claimed that it was an accident that happened during a sexual fantasy with Loofe, himself and at least two other women. Boswell, he said, was not involved.
In the court records made public Tuesday, Trail acknowledged that he strangled Loofe and stated that Boswell helped wipe down the walls of their apartment with bleach and dispose of the body. When Loofe’s remains were found, a cellphone used by Boswell to arrange the dates with Loofe was found nearby.
But those records did not provide a hint as to why Loofe had been killed. Her family has speculated that human trafficking could have been involved. Other stories have circulated in Wilber, including that it was some kind of ritualistic slaying.
Trail and Boswell appeared in Saline County Court via video Tuesday morning. Both were chained at the wrists and ankles and dressed in orange jail jumpsuits.
Trail sat back in his chair and asked for a preliminary hearing “as early as possible.”
Boswell appeared pale and somewhat stunned, and answered questions with only “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” She thanked the judge at the end of her five-minute appearance.
Both were denied bail. They will return to court June 19 for another hearing.
Boswell was assigned an attorney from a state public defender’s office, the Commission on Public Advocacy.
Trail said he planned to talk with a private attorney Wednesday and then decide if he needed court-appointed counsel. But Saline County Court Judge Linda Bauer went ahead and assigned two taxpayer-paid defense attorneys for him, Joe and Ben Murray of Hebron, citing the seriousness of the charges.
It was a bizarre case in which Trail and Boswell went on Facebook, posting a video denying any involvement. The two claimed that they met with Loofe, then drove around doing drugs, before dropping her off at a location in Lincoln.
The pair were suspected in a series of thefts involving antiques, coins and bad checks from Pennsylvania to Utah. Trail was well-known to local antique dealers, who were wary of his activities.
They have been in jail since November, when federal authorities charged them with defrauding a Hiawatha, Kansas, couple out of $375,000 as part of a scheme to buy a rare coin overseas.
Trail and Boswell recently pleaded guilty to those federal charges and are awaiting sentencing in that case.