Con Artists Eyed in Online Dating Murder

Sydney Loofe vanished after an online date—and may have been dismembered. The main suspects: a pair of alleged scammers accused of fleecing folks from Pennsylvania to Utah.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Sydney Loofe had a kind heart.

When a coworker at a home improvements store was down on his luck, Loofe let him crash at her place in Lincoln, Nebraska. “Everybody needs help at some point in their life,” Loofe said, despite her friends’ misgivings.

Loofe’s friend Terra Gehrig told the Lincoln Journal Star that she lit up a room and “had a way of making everyone feel very comfortable around her.”

But in November, Loofe’s bright light was blacked out.

The 24-year-old vanished after a Tinder date on Nov. 15, and was reported missing the next day. Her car and beloved tabby, Nimzy, were left at her home, and her parents knew something was terribly amiss.

“She wouldn’t leave her cat,” Susie Loofe said at the time. “She was planning on coming home that night. Everything left in her house, points that she was.”

Sydney Loofe’s body was found Dec. 4 in a farm field Clay County, about a 1.5-hour drive from her duplex just outside of Lincoln.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, detectives are investigating whether Loofe was dismembered as part of a ritualistic killing.

Police haven’t charged anyone with Loofe’s death, but they’ve named two persons of interest—a pair of alleged con artists accused of scamming and stealing from antiques shops across the country in recent months.

The FBI believes the duo was the last to see Loofe alive. An attorney for one of the persons of interest says he expects charges to soon be filed against his client in Loofe's case.

Aubrey Trail, 51, and Bailey Boswell, 23, were taken into custody Nov. 30 in Missouri, not long after they posted Facebook videos professing their innocence. They uploaded the bizarre clips on a Facebook page run by the victim’s family.

“We’ve spent the last few days watching ourselves being slammed and crucified [in the news media] so we thought it was time we had our say,” Trail told the camera.

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Trail claimed to own a $100,000-a-year antiques business with Boswell, and also copped to having a criminal record. “You’ve heard all of this stuff about my criminal history: all true. Been convicted of bad checks and forgery and all that good stuff … but I guess I’m a person of interest now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Boswell told viewers that she went on two Tinder dates with Loofe, but that she dropped Loofe off at a friend’s house after the second one. (Police said they haven’t been able to confirm Boswell’s claim.)

“I met her on a Tuesday, we drove around Lincoln, smoked weed, had a great time, we hit it off. I dropped her off at home. Picked her up the next night at her house. We drove around smoked weed again,” Boswell said in the footage.

“I haven’t heard from her since,” she later added.

It’s unclear how Boswell and Trail became involved. In phone interviews from jail with local press, Trail described Boswell as his girlfriend. He also claimed she had nothing to do with Loofe’s death, but he wouldn’t speak for himself.

The sweethearts were indicted on Dec. 12 on charges that they transported stolen goods from Hiawatha, Kansas to Beatrice, Nebraska. They face up to 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if they’re convicted of interstate transport of stolen goods. A federal trial is scheduled for February.

But both Trail and his attorney recently said they expect prosecutors to file more serious charges—relating to Loofe’s death—in the coming weeks.

Last month, Trail told Channel 8 in Lincoln that he expects to be charged in Loofe’s case soon. “[I] will probably be indicted on it,” Trail said. “There have been rumors from the courthouse that this will probably be a death penalty case.”

Trail also spoke to the Journal Star, saying that he and Boswell, originally from Iowa, are “obviously suspects” but wouldn’t answer potentially incriminating questions.

“I am not an innocent party in many things, but don’t try to hang other people because of things I have done,” the Tennessee native told the Journal Star.

Trail claimed he met the much younger Boswell in St. Joseph, Missouri, in the fall of 2016, but wouldn’t elaborate further.

The couple was reportedly living in Wilber, Nebraska for the last six months. The city, with a population of 1,855, is 40-some miles south of Lincoln and the last place where Loofe’s mobile phone pinged a cell tower.

Police last updated the public on Dec. 5, when the FBI and Lincoln cops announced Loofe’s body was found and foul play suspected.

Since then, websleuths and Loofe family supporters have speculated whether Trail might be linked to other unsolved murders. They compared Trail’s mugshot to a grainy photo and police sketch of a man suspected of killing two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana: Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14.

But Huston Pullen, a spokesman with the FBI’s Omaha office, said the persons of interest are not currently suspected in other slayings. “At this time, we have nothing to suggest otherwise,” Pullen told The Daily Beast.

Still, cops believe the pair — described by one forensic sciences professor as a Midwest Bonnie and Clyde — traveled America scamming auctions, pawn shops and antiques stores, using aliases and sometimes masquerading as father and daughter.

Lincoln police sent out alerts about Boswell and Trail, who they believe traveled the Central Plains and Southeast defrauding people with counterfeit coins. As part of this alleged scheme, Trail identified himself as “Allan” and the owner of A&B Antiques, detectives say.

In June, a detective in St. George, Utah posted a bulletin with photos of suspects appearing to be Trail and Boswell. The alleged swindlers “came into a local coin dealer multiple times and pocketed several coins worth thousands of dollars while they distracted an employee,” the post said. Police say the man introduced himself as “Allan,” and the couple noted “a 20 year age gap” between them.

Just two months before, Boswell and Trail allegedly waltzed into a York County, Pennsylvania coin action, toting a fraudulent letter from a bank indicating they had money to bid on antique gold and silver, the World-Herald reported.

The couple put on “a pretty good show” and “presented themselves as high rollers,” Scott Wehrly of Wehrly’s Auction told the World-Herald. They allegedly gave Wehrly a bad check worth more than $20,000.

Boswell wore a blouse that covered her tattoos, along with high heels and slacks, while Trail sported a cane, sweater vest and chauffeur’s hat, and presented himself as Boswell’s father, the newspaper reported.

When reached by The Daily Beast, Wehrly would only say, “They were definitely different” and “The sad story of parents having to bury their daughter is where your thoughts need to be.”

The Journal Star reported that cops cuffed Boswell for writing a bad check for $23,298 in York County, and that she was with a man who identified himself as “Jeffrey Boswell.” After her check bounced, investigators found her bank account only had $200.

Boswell posted a $7,500 bond and has pending felony charges, the Journal Star reported. She’s also accused of writing a bad check for more than $15,000 at a Kansas auction in May.

For his part, Trail’s rap sheet includes convictions for passing bad checks at antiques shops in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. According to the Journal Star, he served prison time for hoodwinking an antique mall in Iowa.

In a second Facebook video, Trail claimed he’d never murdered anyone as rumors swirled about his involvement in Loofe’s death. “I’m a thief. But I’ll be goddamned, I’ve never killed anyone in my life. I’ve never hurt a female in my life. So take that for whatever the hell it’s worth,” he said.

Boswell, a single mother and former student basketball star, was described as a good kid whose life took a bad turn after high school.

She moved to Missouri and had a daughter with a former high-school football player, whom she filed a protective order against in February 2016, the World-Herald reported. The baby reportedly lives with Boswell’s parents in Leon.

Boswell was arrested for marijuana possession in April of that year but failed to appear in court, according to the World-Herald.

The week Loofe vanished, she gushed to a friend over her Tinder date, sending a Snapchat selfie with the words, “Ready for my date.”

(Tinder—which is owned by IAC, the parent corporation of The Daily Beast—said in a statement that it is “fully cooperating with law enforcement in this investigation.")

Gehrig, who worked alongside Loofe at Menard’s, said Loofe texted her about the woman she referred to as “Audrey.” (In a Facebook video, Boswell told viewers, “Hi, good morning. I’m Bailey, Audrey on Tinder and a few other names because I have warrants,” before confirming she took Loofe on a date.)

Gehrig told the Journal Star that Loofe described Audrey as her “dream girl.”