LINCOLN — Despite apparent admissions of guilt from one of the “persons of interest” in the slaying of Sydney Loofe, criminal charges don’t appear to be imminent.
Aubrey Trail, in phone calls to The World-Herald and other news media from a prison cell in Kansas, has said more than once that he was responsible for killing Loofe, a 24-year-old Lincoln store clerk.
She disappeared in mid-November after arranging a date online with Trail’s girlfriend, Bailey Boswell of Wilber, Nebraska. Loofe’s body was found Dec. 4.
But state and federal law enforcement officials have indicated that the investigation into the more than two-month-old case is still underway and that no decision has been made about who will prosecute it.
Saline County Attorney Tad Eickman, in whose county Trail claims to have accidentally suffocated Loofe, said Tuesday that local and federal prosecutors are still awaiting forensic tests on evidence gathered at several locations.
That several locations were involved, in more than one county, is one of the complications.
Loofe’s body was found in a rural area of Clay County. Law enforcement officers searched roadsides and fields in that area and searched an apartment in Wilber, in Saline County, rented by Trail and Boswell. Searches were also conducted along highways west of Wilber. And Trail and Boswell have said they drove around Lincoln, in Lancaster County, after picking up Loofe for dates with Boswell.
“There’s lots of information that’s gone to various locations to be analyzed,” Eickman said. “The position that’s being taken by law enforcement, whether it be on the state (or) federal level, is that we want to make sure we have all of that back before we make any decisions.”
Among the decisions to be made is who will prosecute the case.
The Lancaster County Attorney’s Office would appear to be the leading candidate. That office hired a special investigator to gather evidence about the case, and Lincoln police have been intensely involved.
Saline County is another possibility. Trail, in calls to The World-Herald, has claimed that Loofe was killed in Saline County about 4 a.m. on Nov. 16, which would have been a few hours after she went on a second date with Boswell. Her body was found in a third county, Clay County.
The case also could be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The FBI has been involved in the searches and in gathering evidence, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged Trail and Boswell with several counts of transporting stolen property across state lines in a separate case. But the feds typically get involved in this sort of homicide case only if it involves kidnapping, which Trail has given conflicting statements on to The World-Herald, or crossing states lines.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha, Joe Jeanette, said he could not comment on which jurisdiction might prosecute the case involving Loofe’s death, other than to say the pair are being prosecuted federally in the theft case, which involved an attempt to defraud two gold coin traders out of $400,000.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Jeanette said of the Loofe case.
Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly made similar comments when asked recently.
State law appears to allow some discretion. It states that a prosecution can occur in the county where the offense was committed, or in any county in which the victim may have been transported or abducted.
Both Trail, 51, and Boswell, 23, are behind bars, awaiting trial on the transporting stolen goods charges in federal court.
Since the two persons of interest in Loofe’s death are already in custody, there’s no reason to “be in a big hurry” to charge them in a new crime, said Deb Gilg, a former U.S. attorney and county prosecutor.
“They know where (Trail) is at, and he’s not going anyplace,” Gilg said. “You want to gather the best evidence you can, to the best of your ability.”
Trail, in his calls from prison, has challenged officials to charge him in connection with Loofe’s death, claiming that he “wants justice” for Loofe. He has also contended that he is willing to be sentenced to death for what happened, and that Boswell had nothing to do with it.