WILBER — Sydney Loofe’s body was cut into 14 pieces, and her body showed signs that she had struggled, a forensic pathologist testified on Monday as the murder trial of Aubrey Trail entered its fourth week.
Dr. Michelle Elieff said that her examination of Loofe’s body found bruising at Loofe’s wrists, a torn earlobe, and bruising at the back of her head and inner thigh.
The wrist bruises indicated that she had been restrained and had struggled before she died of suffocation, Elieff said.
But those signs of struggle could also have been consistent with “rough, consensual sex,” couldn’t they, asked one of Trail’s court-appointed attorneys, Joe Murray.
“Yes,” responded Elieff.
Testimony in the trial is expected to continue through at least Tuesday. Later on Monday, another pathologist is expected to testify about the type of tools used to dismember the body.
Trail, 52, and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, are charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Loofe, a 24-year-old cashier at Menards in Lincoln.
Boswell, according to prior testimony, connected with Loofe via the Internet dating app Tinder. Loofe disappeared on Nov. 16, 2017, the day after her final date with Boswell, a date that led to a Wilber apartment rented by Trail and Boswell.
They both face the possibility of the death penalty if found guilty. Boswell is scheduled to stand trial in October.
Elieff said her autopsy occurred on Dec. 7, 2017, a couple of days after Loofe’s body was found scattered along gravel roads in rural Clay County, just north of Edgar.
Photographs she took of the dismembered body were shown to jurors, but not to the audience. A couple of jurors looked away after glancing at the photos. Many had grim facial expressions as they looked at the grisly photos while Elieff explained the bruising and scratches she found on the body.
Loofe’s mother and sister left the courtroom as the autopsy was described.
The pathologist said her examination concluded that Loofe died of suffocation, either manually (by the use of someone’s hands) or via the use of a belt or other ligature.
Most of the internal organs on the body were missing, Elieff said, and there was little blood left in the body.
Is the lack of blood consistent with someone draining the blood from the body, asked one of the prosecutors, Sandra Allen of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.
Elieff said the lack of blood could be caused by a lot of factors.
Under questioning by Murray, the doctor also said it could not be determined whether the lack of internal organs was due to predator activity by animals after the body parts were deposited along the road, or because they were intentionally removed.
Murray also asked if the autopsy could determine whether Loofe was killed intentionally, or accidentally.
No, that could not be determined, Elieff said.
Trail has maintained that Loofe died accidentally, as he choked her during the filming of a sexual fantasy that she willingly agreed to play a role in for $5,000.
But prosecutors tell a a much darker tale — that Trail conspired, along with Boswell, for weeks to lure a young woman using social media for the purpose of homicide.
Prior testimony, from three women who testified they hung out and traveled with Trail and Boswell, described the pair as having had a harem of “witches” who joined them in having group sex and stealing antiques. They said that Trail and Boswell told them that to truly become a witch, they had to kill someone.
Earlier Monday, an FBI agent testified that the morning before Boswell picked up Loofe for a date, Boswell told another woman that “she would be busy for the next couple of days.”
Loofe never came home from that date, and prosecutors maintain that Trail and Boswell killed and dismembered Loofe’s body later that night, Nov. 15, 2017, or early the next morning.
The message sent by Boswell, according to FBI Agent Mike Maseth, was sent at the same time she and Trail were seen inside a Lincoln Home Depot store buying tools that could be used to dismember a body.
Trail, who slashed his neck in court two weeks ago and hasn’t been in court since, again opted to not attend court proceedings Monday.