A Nebraska couple, Aubrey Trail, 52, and Bailey Boswell, 25, face the death penalty if convicted for the 2017 murder and dismemberment of Sydney Loofe, a 24-year-old store clerk. New testimonies from Trail’s trial, which was disrupted last week when he slashed his own neck in court, paint a bizarre picture of a sex cult leader who called himself a “vampire” and “daddy” to a dozen “witches,” whom he told they would gain powers if they tortured and killed, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Loofe disappeared on November 16, 2017, after meeting Boswell on Tinder. The victim’s mother told HuffPost she last heard from her daughter the day before, when she was preparing for a second date with a woman she had met online. Boswell and Trail were arrested on November 30, 2017, in Branson, MO, and Loofe’s remains were found a week later, wrapped in black plastic trash bags and scattered along rural roads near Edgar, NE.
Trail pleaded guilty to one of the three charges he is facing — improper disposal of human remains — and pleaded not guilty to the two other charges: first-degree murder, which can be punishable by the death penalty in Nebraska, and conspiracy to commit murder. Trail claims Loofe’s death was accidental; that he unintentionally asphyxiated her during a "sexual fantasy" that also involved two unidentified women. During his (self-inflicted) violent outburst in court last week, Trail shouted, “Bailey is innocent, and I curse you all.”
Three young women, ordered by the judge to remain anonymous, shared their testimonies on Monday and Tuesday, bringing this story to an even darker place. One of them, a 22-year-old, said she met Boswell on Tinder during the summer of 2017 and was convinced to start traveling with the couple, after Trail bought her clothing and manicures and began giving her a $200 weekly allowance.
The woman testified that Trail invited her to join his “cult,” members of which he called his “witches,” which entailed engaging in group sex and helping him steal and sell antiques. She said she called Trail “daddy,” and he referred to himself as the “vampire.” Trail claimed he had supernatural powers, like mind-reading, the ability to fly, and to put Boswell in a trance. The con man also told the woman that she had to torture and kill someone to join, claiming that she would gain more “powers” if the victim were tortured for hours.
“He said there was 12 (other girls) and I could be the 13th,” the woman said in court. “That’s when he explained that they were witches and everyone had their own roles to play in the cult.” FBI Agent Mike Maseth said a list of around a dozen women’s names was found in Boswell’s bag listing “special powers” for each woman, like “healer” and “see danger.” Boswell was the “queen witch” and was called “mommy.” The couple appeared to target young women who enjoyed submissive sexual relationships or had other kinks.
The 22-year-old woman testified that she had group sex with the couple on more than one occasion, at both their Wilber, NE, apartment and on a trip to Branson, MO. She said Trail told her that killing should “turn you on sexually.” Trail, the woman said, suggested two potential victims for her, a short, blond-haired woman he and Boswell met on Tinder, and another “witch” in the group, who he said “cared too much” and “didn’t have the evil in her.”
She was told ritualistic killings were meant to be conducted in the woods at a certain moon stage. The woman testified that she never saw the couple murder anyone during her time in the group, although Trail once threatened to kill her family if she revealed the group’s activities, bragging that he had killed several people before.
The woman left the group in September 2017 before Loofe, who was short with blond hair, was killed. The woman said she made the decision while on a shopping trip in Lincoln, NE, to buy bags for Trail to use to steal items on an upcoming trip to Pennsylvania: “I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. I told Bailey I wanted out.” She moved back home, but said she kept in touch with Trail, who continued to send her money.
All three women who testified said they first met Boswell on Tinder, like Loofe, and were later introduced to her boyfriend and “sugar daddy” Trail. The women would typically meet up with the couple individually and were each given an allowance between $150 and $200 a week. The payments came with requirements, including participating in group sex and punishments like whippings. (One woman fantasized about being a cat, and said she was humiliated when she was made to eat cat food.)
During Tuesday’s testimonies, one woman revealed that Boswell enjoyed masochistic sex, and wanted her to detail acts of torture during sex with her. The woman said Boswell also talked about breaking fingers and dismembering a body. According to one of the women, Boswell and Trail wanted her to torture and kill someone on videotape, so they could sell it. “They said they would make $1 million to do it, then split it and go separate ways,” the woman said.
One of the women who testified on Tuesday said she got a “weird vibe” from the couple when they picked her up in Omaha on November 17, 2017, the day after Loofe disappeared. Also revealed during the testimonies was that Trail was in possession of what he called a “kill bag,” containing pliers, a hammer, and a plastic sauna suit. A similar suit was found with Loofe’s remains.
The woman who met up with the couple on November 17, after Loofe’s slaying, said the trio checked into the Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, IA, where they stayed until November 19. They told the woman they were going on a “cocaine run” to Grand Island, NE, that would make them $25,000, a story that the woman said made “absolutely zero sense.” But she said she went along with it to be obedient. The drugs never came, but three days later, Trail and Boswell began talking about finding a victim “who would not be missed” to torture and kill in a town a mile away. She said Trail wanted to watch the two women commit the crimes.
She said she accompanied the couple to the next destination, but left after seeing a message on her cell phone from the Lincoln Police Department. “I freaked out,” she said. The woman said Trail and Boswell claimed they were getting blamed in the disappearance of Boswell’s ex, after which they dropped off the woman back in Omaha. “For the first time, I was super-scared,” she said. By late November, the Lincoln Police Department had identified the couple as persons of interest.
Before Loofe’s remains were found, her family and friends held a candlelight vigil in her honor on November 22, 2017. Shortly after her disappearance, her family started a Facebook page to keep community members up-to-date. On the “Celebrating Sydney Loofe” page, people have been sharing updates on the investigation and trial. One comment reads: “One of the most wonderful people I've ever had the joy of knowing! She seemed to always be able to make an okay day into a great day with just a smile.”