Dressed in a white jacket and a cream shirt, Sydney Loofe took a selfie and shared the photo on Snapchat with the caption, “Ready for my date.”
Sydney, 24, was smiling for the camera and looked excited. She’d even added a heart-eyed emoji. It was good to see Sydney happy.
Her loved ones knew she’d struggled with depression, but she was always trying to stay positive. A tattoo on her arm read, “Everything will be wonderful someday.” And her new romance was making her feel hopeful.
It was 15 November 2017 and Sydney lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she worked as a cashier at a hardware store. Her parents, George and Susie, lived three hours away, but they would get together as often as they could and messaged each other constantly.
Sydney had told her friends that she’d met a woman called Audrey on Tinder. She’d even shared Audrey’s picture with them. She had been on one date with Audrey two days earlier – where they had simply driven around getting to know each other. Now it was time for the second date and she headed out.
But the next morning, Sydney didn’t turn up for work. She wasn’t returning messages from her parents, so they got in their car and drove straight to her apartment.
They found Sydney’s cat Mimzy hungry and abandoned and knew something bad had happened. Sydney would never have neglected her cat. Her car was still there and her mobile was turned off. They filed a missing person’s report with the police.
The last time her phone was on, it was in Wilber – about 35 miles away. Fears were that Sydney had been abducted and her parents made an emotional public plea for her safe return. Investigators focused on Sydney’s date Audrey and tracked down her phone number after linking with her on Tinder. The woman who answered admitted going on a date with Sydney, but said she’d left her at a friend’s house afterwards. She couldn’t recall where that was.
Police noted that Audrey was reluctant to share basic details about herself. Eventually, officers discovered that ‘Audrey’ was a woman called Bailey Boswell, then 23. She lived with her older boyfriend Aubrey Trail, then 51, in Wilber. They were both named as persons of interest.
Boswell had been using a different mobile to send messages to Sydney and that phone, as well as Trail’s and Sydney’s, led the police to a location in Sydney Loofe, 60 miles west of Wilber. There, on 4 December, Sydney’s body was found. Her dismembered remains were stuffed in rubbish bags in ditches in a field near Omaha. Sydney’s body had been cut up into 14 pieces – some of her organs and body parts were never found. The cause of death was suffocation and she had put up a fight in her final moments. Her earlobe was torn and she had bruising on her wrists, the back of the head and her inner thighs. She’d clearly been restrained before she was deprived of air.
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Investigators were certain that Boswell and Trail were involved. They turned out to be a very disturbing couple. Boswell had met Trail when he answered her online advert for massages. She had a young daughter who she had lost custody of. Trail and Boswell had a lot in common – including dark fantasies. They moved into a basement flat together in Wilber in June 2017 and started defrauding antiques dealers.
The pair enjoyed group sex with other women, who they met through Tinder. Trail told them stories about “gaining power” from killing people. Police determined that Boswell had lured Sydney into a trap and she had been murdered. There was even surveillance footage of Trail and Boswell out before Sydney’s date, where they bought tools and bleach. The pair were arrested in June 2018 and charged with Sydney’s murder.
Right from the start, Trail had lied. He told a newspaper that Sydney had agreed to be part of a sexual fantasy with him and two other women while Boswell was passed out on drugs in another room. It had got rough and something had become tight around Sydney’s neck.
Trail also told his lawyers that he’d had a “sex party” with just Boswell and Sydney. They’d all had sex but while Sydney was handcuffed, he had choked her with an electrical cord and had killed her. But even in the courtroom during the trial in 2020, Trail would change his version of events again.
The prosecutors said that the twisted couple had already planned on killing someone before finding Sydney on Tinder. Boswell would connect with the woman after she and Trail picked a target together by looking on social media.
Hours before Sydney’s death, Trail and Boswell were buying the tools and supplies used to dismember her. They’d even chosen Sydney as she lived 150 miles away from her family, hoping her disappearance wouldn’t be noticed for a while. They were wrong.
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Then, during proceedings, Trail grew angry at negative testimony about his girlfriend’s guilt and screamed, “Bailey is innocent and I curse you all!” before using a blade to cut his throat. Trail was taken to hospital and ended up missing most of his own trial. He returned to testify in his defence with scars on his neck.
The defence said that Sydney had agreed to be filmed doing “sexual asphyxiation” in return for money. But when Trail took to the stand, he shocked his own legal team by admitting that was also a lie. The killer said he’d spun stories to confuse the investigators.
“It was only me, Bailey and Sydney there the night Sydney died. There were no two other girls there. There was no $15,000 paid for a sexual fantasy,” Trail said.
He claimed Sydney’s killing wasn’t planned, but she had been lured to the apartment by Boswell and Sydney had “freaked out”. They’d hoped she’d join their sex ring and criminal activities. When she resisted, Trail killed and dismembered her with a saw to “protect” their lifestyle.
And the court were given a horrific insight into that lifestyle. Three women testified about being lured into Trail and Boswell’s sex cult via Tinder between June 2017 and the November Sydney died. Trail said he was a vampire who could fly and read minds. He and Boswell both alleged they could gain more “powers” by killing people – even more if they tortured them first. The women would have sex with Trail and Boswell in exchange for an allowance. They also helped in the antique business scams. Trail made them call him “Daddy” and he would call Boswell “The Queen Witch”.
There were strict rules about staying in touch with Trail and they spoke about being punished. If they broke rules, they would be slapped or even choked with a belt. When one woman left the sex cult, Trail had threatened to kill her family if she told anyone.
The jury took just three hours to deliberate. The couple were both found guilty of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy to commit murder and improper disposal of human remains.
In June this year, at a sentencing for Trail in front of a three-judge panel, he gave a statement. He admitted he’d killed Sydney but insisted it wasn’t premeditated. He had killed her because he was worried that Sydney would go to the police if he let her go.
“I won’t say I’m sorry, as that would be an insult to you after what I put you through,” Trail said to Sydney’s family. “And I won’t ask for forgiveness as I don’t believe there is such a thing. I have done some terrible things in my life, but this is the only thing I have ever done that I feel real regret about.”
The judges said Trail had displayed a “cold, calculated” level of planning, pointing out that he had even bragged about the killing afterwards and joked that he had drunk Sydney’s blood. They said that dismembering her body was needless and done to satisfy his “intellectual and sexual curiosity”. Trail was given the death penalty.
At Boswell’s sentencing last month, she also faced the death penalty. She begged for her life to be spared for her “daughter’s sake”.
The judges said Sydney had found herself in the killers’ flat, outnumbered and unable to defend herself. “Boswell’s actions and words demonstrate that she had no regard for the life of Sydney Loofe beyond her own pleasure,” one judge said. But one judge didn’t agree on the death penalty, so Boswell was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Her legal team said they would appeal.
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