WILBER, Neb. — Just before Sydney Loofe went on her first Internet-arranged date with a woman named “Audrey” on Nov. 14, 2017, she texted a cautionary question.
“Just going to be me and you, right?” she asked via the dating app Tinder.
“OK. Yes. Of course,” responded Audrey.
“Audrey” turned out to be Bailey Boswell, the girlfriend of Aubrey Trail.
That’s according to testimony Wednesday in Trail’s trial, which will continue next week.
Trail, 52, and Boswell, 25, are charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Loofe, who disappeared on Nov. 16, 2017, following a second date with Boswell arranged over Tinder. Trail and Boswell face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
Loofe’s first date with Boswell, on Nov. 14, involved only them. But a second date, the next night, ended up at an apartment in Wilber shared by Boswell and Trail. And, according to Trail’s statements, Loofe died sometime that night amid a “sexual fantasy” that involved choking.
Trail, who has served two stints in Nebraska prisons for bad checks and forgery, has claimed that Loofe agreed to participate in the fantasy for $5,000 and died accidentally, when the choking went “too far.”
But prosecutors, during almost three weeks of testimony , have laid out a much more sinister story — that Trail conspired with others to lure a young woman to her death using social media.
On Tuesday, three young women testified that they had met Boswell over Tinder and then were eventually introduced to Boswell’s “sugar daddy,” Aubrey Trail.
The women — whom a judge ordered not be identified in any way to protect their privacy — said they received clothes and gifts and were given allowances of up to $200 a week by Trail to join the group, which he boasted included 12 other “witches.”
But there were rules to follow, the women testified, including participating in group sex with Trail and Boswell; helping them sell, and steal, antiques; and obeying their every wish. That included wearing no clothes in their apartment and accepting punishments — including whippings — if they misbehaved.
The women told jurors that Trail and Boswell spoke more than once about a desire to torture and kill someone so the women could become witches and gain “powers.” One woman said the pair intended to record and sell such a video for $1 million. There also was testimony that Boswell liked to inflict pain during sex.
Whether Loofe was ever given the talk about becoming a “witch” or Trail being a “sugar daddy” is unclear. There has been no testimony during the trial that such information was given to her.
There’s also been no evidence introduced showing that Loofe might have agreed to participate in a dangerous sex act, though Trail’s court-appointed lawyers say Loofe had money troubles at the time, and Trail has said she was informed of her role and agreed to it.
Earlier Wednesday, jurors heard more testimony about the travels of Trail and Boswell in the days just following Loofe’s disappearance on Nov. 16, 2017.
Trail and Boswell first traveled to Council Bluffs on Nov. 17 after picking up a woman in Omaha who was in a sexual relationship with Boswell.
Video surveillance from the Ameristar Casino showed the trio checking into a Holiday Inn on the casino property.
FBI agent Mike Maseth testified that on Nov. 18, Trail and Boswell left the hotel and traveled through Plattsmouth to Nebraska City, shopping at a Walmart before heading west on Highway 2 toward Lincoln.
Maseth said that about 11:45 a.m. that day, Lincoln police placed a phone call to a “pinger number” (one that is difficult to trace) that Boswell used to arrange dates via Tinder. About the same time, the agent said, data records from her cellphone ended, suggesting that the phone might have been shut off.
The pair then apparently turned back east, stopping at a Shopko in Plattsmouth about 1:20 p.m. before returning to Council Bluffs.
Jurors also heard testimony Wednesday morning from motel clerks in Grand Island and Kearney, where Trail, Boswell and the woman they picked up stayed from Nov. 19 through 22, before returning to Ameristar.
Trail and Boswell, according to earlier testimony, then stayed at motels in Iowa, in Spencer and Ames, before they traveled to Branson, Missouri, where they were apprehended by authorities on Nov. 30.
Loofe’s body was found in several black plastic bags on Dec. 4 and 5, 2017, scattered along gravel roads in rural Clay County, Nebraska.
Testimony in Trail’s trial is scheduled to conclude on Monday or Tuesday, after a four-day break for the Fourth of July holiday. Boswell is scheduled to stand trial in October.
Trail was again not present in court on Wednesday. He has skipped the proceedings since he slashed his neck in court on June 24.
It’s unclear whether he will testify in his own defense.