WILBER, Neb. — A Nebraska murder suspect slashed his own throat in court Monday during testimony in the first week of his trial.
Aubrey Trail, 52, of Wilber, is on trial in the November 2017 killing and dismembering of 24-year-old Sydney Loofe, of Lincoln, who authorities say met Trail's girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, 25, through the online dating app Tinder.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported that a prosecution witness was taking the stand shortly after 11 a.m. Monday when Trail, who was seated in a wheelchair, shouted, "Bailey is innocent, and I curse you all!"
Trail then slashed his neck three or four times.
The aftermath was captured in several seconds of video from the courtroom, where someone can be heard exclaiming, "Oh, Jesus," as Saline County sheriff's deputies rushed Trail, who fell to the floor. They were able to disarm him and cover his bleeding neck.
Trail was taken via ambulance to a hospital for treatment, the Star Journal reported. He survived but remained absent from the courtroom throughout the week. It was unclear what he used to slash his throat.
The judge, who told jurors Trail was absent due to illness, said he will be handcuffed when he does return to court.
Watch video of the courtroom chaos after Trail slashed his neck below, courtesy of KLKN-TV.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Trail was in a wheelchair because of a stroke and two heart attacks he has reportedly suffered since his arrest more than a year and a half ago.
A criminal complaint in the case alleges that Loofe's mother, Susie Loofe, reported her missing the evening of Nov. 16, 2017, after she failed to show up for work that day at Menards, a home improvement store. Family and friends told investigators Loofe had gone on a date with Boswell after work the evening before.
Loofe's mother, who was the first witness in Trail's trial, testified that she and her daughter texted during the day on Nov. 15 and she later saw a Snapchat of her daughter, in which she shared her image with a caption, "Ready for my date." An image of the Snapchat video, of which Susie Loofe took a screen shot, shows a smiley-face emoji with hearts for the eyes.
It also shows the outfit her daughter was wearing when she was killed. The family later used the image on missing posters and fliers as they searched in vain for the missing young woman.
"My children didn't like it, but I screenshotted a lot of their Snapchats," Susie Loofe testified, according to the Antelope County News in Neligh, where Sydney Loofe grew up.
Susie Loofe told the court she texted her daughter, "You didn't tell me that you had a date." She got no answer, but did not begin to worry until the following day, when Sydney Loofe's sister, MacKenzie, started hearing from her sister's friends, who said she could not be reached and had failed to show up for work, the newspaper reported.
Sydney Loofe's cellphone records showed her phone last using a cell tower in Wilber around 8:31 p.m. Nov. 15, the complaint says.
Investigators went to the basement apartment where Boswell lived with Trail. The landlord, who lives in the home, told detectives there was a strong odor of bleach coming from the downstairs apartment on Nov. 16 and into Nov. 17.
Police officials obtained a search warrant, which was executed on Nov. 19. It appeared to investigators that parts of the apartment walls had been wiped down.
"At that time, law enforcement authorities from several agencies actively began looking for Boswell and Trail," the criminal complaint states.
Read the criminal complaints against Trail and Boswell below.
Trail and Boswell spent the next several days traveling throughout Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, the complaint says. They were found Nov. 30 at a hotel in Branson, Missouri, and taken into custody on federal material witness warrants.
At that time, Boswell's iPhone, which had been restored to factory settings on Nov. 17, was seized and searched by forensic experts.
Four days later, some of Loofe's remains were found scattered in ditches along gravel roads in rural Clay County, Nebraska, the document says. Additional remains were found the next day, Dec. 5.
"Sydney's body had been dismembered and parts of her body were found in several garbage bags east of Clay Center in Clay County," the complaint states.
Loofe had been strangled before she was dismembered, according to her autopsy.
The World-Herald reported that a Lincoln police investigator's analysis of cellphone records led to the discovery of Loofe's remains.
The investigation determined that Boswell, using the name Audrey, met Loofe on Tinder on Nov. 11. In the four days before Loofe was believed to have been killed, she and Boswell sent about 140 messages to one another, according to the criminal complaint.
The messages showed that the pair had gone on at least one date prior to arranging a second date on Nov. 15, the complaint says. The last message Boswell sent to Loofe was at 6:54 p.m. the night Loofe vanished.
In the message, Boswell wrote that she was at Loofe's home.
Investigators also determined through cellphone records that on Nov. 16, the date on which authorities believe Loofe's body was dumped, Boswell's phone was in close proximity to where Loofe's remains were found.
Security camera footage from a Lincoln Home Depot shows that around 10:35 a.m. on Nov. 15, Trail and Boswell bought the tools detectives believe they used to cut up Loofe's body, according to the complaint.
"It should be noted that Sydney Loofe was alive at that time and began her shift later that day at Menards," the court document says.
Surveillance footage from Menards also shows Trail entering the store during the day on Nov. 15, as Loofe worked her last shift. In what one courtroom spectator described as "chilling" footage, Trail is seen entering the store feet away from Loofe, who is headed out to another area of the property.
Trail is seen looking over his shoulder at Loofe as she walks out of the doors. Acording to the Journal Star, Trail then made three phone calls to Boswell over an 18-minute span as she waited for him in the parking lot.
Testimony this week in Trail's trial showed that the pair bought a 12-inch hacksaw, a folding tree saw, a utility knife with replacement blades, multiple gallon bottles of bleach and 30-gallon trash bags, according to the World-Herald. The Journal Star reported that the purchases, along with that of several plastic drop cloths, were made at Home Depot and a Dollar General store back in Wilber.
Prosecutors said the cuts on Loofe's remains were consistent with a "thin-bladed, fine-toothed saw" like a hacksaw, the World-Herald reported.
Trail admitted to detectives that he strangled Loofe with an extension cord, the criminal complaint says. He told Nebraska media, however, that Loofe's death was accidental and that it took place during the filming of a sexual fantasy, of which he claimed Loofe was a willingly participant.
Pieces of the extension cord, along with Loofe's broken cellphone and cut-up credit card and driver's license, were found near a cemetery west of Wilber, where Trail told investigators he and Boswell discarded the victim's belongings, the World-Herald said.
Trail told police he threw Loofe's property out the passenger-side window of his car, the Journal Star reported.
Investigators also found a white top that Loofe was wearing in her Snapchat video in which she mentioned her upcoming date, the newspaper said.
Three miles down the gravel road where the items were found, they found Loofe's bra. One cup had a slit cut in it, the Journal Star said.
Police also found a total of 16 sex toys, including a leash and a dog collar, in Trail and Boswell's apartment, as well as the hotel room in which they were arrested in Missouri. DNA from three or four people were found on the toys, but none could be linked to Loofe, the newspaper reported.
Trail's murder trial is expected to last into the second week of July. According to the World-Herald, the main issue is whether or not Loofe's killing was premeditated.
If it was planned in advance, Trail would be eligible for the death penalty. Authorities announced last year that they planned to seek the death penalty for both Trail and Boswell.
Trail has pleaded guilty to one of the three charges he faced, improper disposal of human remains. The World-Herald reported that the guilty plea came as prosecutors and defense attorneys began the jury selection process.
Jurors are to decide his guilt on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Boswell is charged with first-degree murder and improper disposal of human remains. If convicted and sentenced to death, she would become the first woman on Nebraska's death row.
Both Trail and Boswell were sentenced to prison in August 2018 for defrauding a Kansas couple out of $400,000, the World-Herald reported. The fraud scheme involved buying a nonexistent rare coin from overseas.
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