WILBER, Neb. — Discussions about killing someone to join a coven of witches, or producing a “snuff film” of torture and murder to make money, returned to a courtroom in Saline County on Thursday.
This time, it was testimony by an FBI agent to back up the filing of a third charge — conspiracy to commit murder — against Bailey Boswell, who was already charged with first-degree murder and improper disposal of human remains in the death of Lincoln store clerk Sydney Loofe.
After two hours of testimony and arguments, Saline County Judge Linda Bauer ruled that Boswell should stand trial on the additional charge during her trial in March.
Boswell’s boyfriend, Aubrey Trail, 53, faced the same three charges. He pleaded guilty to the improper disposal of human remains charge shortly before his trial started in June and was found guilty by a jury of the two other charges in July. He awaits a hearing beginning June 23 to determine whether he’ll receive a death sentence or life in prison.
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Boswell, a 25-year-old native of Leon, Iowa, appeared pale and rocked or swiveled in her chair through most of Thursday’s hearing.
FBI Special Agent Mike Maseth was the lone testifier, recounting how the investigation into Loofe’s disappearance led to an apartment in Wilber, where he said Trail and Boswell conspired to recruit young women to help them kill.
Loofe went missing after arranging a date with Boswell via Tinder in November 2017. Loofe’s body was found three weeks later in 14 pieces wrapped in black plastic bags, scattered along country roads in Clay County, about an hour’s drive west of Wilber.
Trail testified near the end of his trial that he choked Loofe to death accidentally during a “sex party” with her and Boswell. Boswell has not talked to authorities.
Maseth testified that Trail and Boswell had multiple discussions about killing someone with the young women Boswell had met via Tinder for group sex hookups.
Three women testified during Trail’s trial that they were told they could gain “powers” and join the couple’s group of witches by killing someone and “breathing their last breath.” After one of the women was skeptical of the witch story, the purpose for killing was changed to making money from posting a video on the Internet of killing someone, Maseth said.
Boswell’s attorney, Todd Lancaster of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, questioning Maseth, said there was just “talk” of killing someone, no real plans, only “make believe stuff.”
“It was just general discussion,” Lancaster said.
The FBI agent responded, “To me, it’s not general discussion when you ask, ‘Will you kill this person for me?’ ”
Lancaster said Boswell will plead not guilty to the new charge. She faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.
Earlier Thursday, District Judge Julie Smith took under advisement a motion that she dismiss herself from the three-judge sentencing panel for Trail.
Trail’s attorneys have said that Smith’s presence on the panel has the appearance of a conflict of interest because, in a former job as chief counsel with the state prison system, she wrote the state’s protocol for lethal injection executions. Smith also served as the judge during Trail’s divorce in 2018.