The con artist accused of brutally slaying Nebraska woman Sydney Loofe allegedly convinced his “cult” members he was a flying, mind-reading vampire with a coven of a dozen witches—who he claimed would gain their powers by killing people.
Aubrey Trail, 52, is on trial for the murder and dismemberment of Loofe, a 24-year-old cashier at a Lincoln home-improvements store. Prosecutors say Trail, aided by co-defendant Bailey Boswell, used a dating app to lure Loofe to her death. Last week, the creepy grifter slashed his throat in a Saline County courtroom and hasn’t been present for the proceedings since.
On Monday and Tuesday, Trail’s case took an even stranger turn, with a 22-year-old woman who claimed to be a follower of his alleged “cult” testifying that she joined Trail and Boswell’s depraved world the summer before Loofe was killed.
The woman told jurors that Trail convinced her she’d need to kill someone and “take their last breath” in order to obtain her magical powers, according to the Norfolk Daily News, a local newspaper in Nebraska. She said Trail showed her photos of women he claimed had witch powers, and that Boswell was called the “Queen Witch” and Trail referred to himself as “Daddy,” NET Nebraska reported.
The witness allegedly met Trail the same way Loofe did: by communicating with Boswell on the Tinder dating app. (Tinder is owned by IAC, the parent corporation of The Daily Beast.) The woman was drawn to Boswell, who suggested that her “sugar daddy” could take care of her, reported KLKN, an ABC station in Lincoln.
She was one of three women to testify about Trail’s sordid deeds, saying Trail and Boswell had a “kill bag” with a hammer and pliers and fantasized about torturing people by ripping off their fingernails and cutting out their eyelids, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. (A judge previously ordered the media not to publish the names or photos of these witnesses.)
Both Boswell and Trail are charged with first-degree murder in Loofe’s slaughter and if convicted, could face the death penalty. Trail claims he didn’t mean to kill Loofe, and that she died in a sexual game gone wrong. Boswell’s trial is scheduled for October.
Police discovered Loofe’s remains in December 2017, days after she vanished and after Boswell and Trail published Facebook videos professing their innocence. According to the Journal Star, last week jurors saw photographs of Loofe's dismembered body, which cops discovered in black trash bags in rural Clay County.
Loofe, according to the first cult member’s testimony, wasn’t the first young woman Trail and Boswell had targeted. The witness claimed she and Trail had their sights set on two different people, but their plans for murder were never carried out.
Trail allegedly told the woman that she’d gain more “powers” if she tortured her murder victim for a few hours first, the Omaha World-Herald reported. He also claimed some of his witches could leave their bodies. Back then, the woman believed him; she described Trail as “convincing” and “hypnotic,” KLKN reported.
The alleged killer brought the woman to his basement lair in Wilber and offered to cover her rent and car payments and pay for nursing school, the Daily News reported. Trail allegedly gave her a $200 weekly allowance. She would later have sex with him and Boswell, his 25-year-old girlfriend and alleged accomplice, and a third woman. The orgies would sometimes involve choking, she testified.
Trail allegedly told the woman he’d killed multiple people and now encouraged his witches to do the same. In August 2017, the woman joined Trail and Boswell at a Walmart in Beatrice to meet a potential victim, whom Boswell met on Tinder.
“Aubrey asked me if I wanted her to be my first,” the woman testified.
“Your first what?” asked prosecutor Sandra Allen.
“Kill,” the woman replied, according to the World-Herald.
Trail’s defense lawyer, Joe Murray, asked the woman, “So you wanted all this stuff, the torture, the killing, the breathing in the steam?” She replied in the affirmative. Murray had pointed out that such a maneuver is part of Steven King’s novel Doctor Sleep, in which characters discuss killing someone and “feeding on steam,” or a person’s dying breath.
But when the potential Walmart victim didn’t pan out, as the woman relocated, Trail allegedly declared they’d “save her for another time” and focus instead on another “witch” in his coven who he said was “too nice” and “didn’t have the evil in her.”
The woman testified that she didn’t want to kill another girl in her group. Eventually, she informed Trail and Boswell that she was leaving their cult, and they allegedly threatened to kill her family if she told anyone about them.
According to the Daily News, the witness testified that Trail would discuss torturing and killing people once or twice a week. “It was just like regular conversation for him,” she said.
On Tuesday, a second witness testified that when she met Boswell on Tinder in the summer of 2017, Boswell used the alias “Jenna.”
The second woman claims she helped Boswell and Trail steal and peddle antiques, and that the duo instituted house rules that included her walking around naked in their residence and calling Trail “daddy.” They often talked about killing people, she testified.
This witness didn’t believe the odd couple’s claims about witches and magical powers but did believe they’d make good on their plans to kill. Trail and Boswell talked of making a snuff film and selling it for $1 million, she told jurors. “I did think they would lay hands on someone 100 percent,” the woman testified, according to CBS affiliate KOLN.
A third member of Trail’s clan said she met him and Boswell in early November 2017 and engaged in sexual activity at their Wilber apartment, KOLN reported. The 23-year-old woman—who claimed she was ordered to call Boswell “mommy” and Trail “daddy”—told the courtroom that she spent several days with the couple after Loofe’s death.
Boswell picked the woman up on Nov. 17, 2017, about two days after Loofe vanished, and they traveled to different hotels in Nebraska. The woman testified that police called and left her messages but she didn’t know her cult leaders were suspects in Loofe’s kidnapping.
The witness says she woke up on Nov. 18 with scratches on her legs and that she’d lost memories for large parts of the day. According to public radio station NET Nebraska, she told jurors that when she learned of Loofe’s murder, she worried she helped Boswell and Trail dispose of Loofe’s body and had repressed the memory.
The witness testified that she no longer believes that’s the case, because prosecutors told her evidence suggests Loofe’s body was dumped days before.
She said that on Nov. 22, she traded cars with Trail and they parted ways, according to Omaha’s WOWT 6 News.
Meanwhile, FBI agent Mike Maspeth testified that Trail told authorities that he gave Loofe $5,000 to appear in a sexual fantasy video. But prosecutors say there’s no evidence of such footage or Loofe agreeing to it.
Maspeth said that when Boswell was arrested, police found a list of 12 or 13 women inside her purse. Listed next to each name was their supposed magic specialty, including “healer,” “see danger,” and “fire.”
During his conversations with investigators, Trail often discussed the group sex in his apartment, Maspeth told jurors. On one occasion, the Daily News reported, Trail told FBI agents he wanted to share something, away from the video cameras.
The alleged killer then led investigators to a restroom and whispered, “Witches kill, witches kill, a life for a life and they gain more power when they kill.”