Back in court

Aubrey Trail returned to court Tuesday in Wilber for the first time since he slashed his neck in court on June 24.

WILBER — Letters clandestinely passed from Aubrey Trail to his girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, while both were in the Saline County Jail told her “here is your story” about the death of Sydney Loofe, an FBI agent testified Tuesday morning.

The letters, some in code, also indicated Trail’s desire to paint himself as the villain, and to have her tell investigators that she was forced to participate in the disposal of Loofe’s dismembered body.

“Baby, we’ve got to make you look like the victim in this … and make people hate me and feel sorry for you,” Trail wrote in a letter found July 23, 2018, in Boswell’s cell.

Trail was present in court on Tuesday — the first time since he slashed his neck in front of jurors on June 24 — and he was expected to testify in his own defense later Tuesday.

He was restrained to his wheelchair, and two bright red wounds were clearly evident on the right side of his neck.

He was warned by Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson that if he had another outburst, that would indicate his voluntary decision to not attend the trial.

“The trial will continue without you,” the judge told him. “Do you understand?”

“Yes, your honor,” Trail responded.

Trail, 52, and Boswell, 25, 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 Tinder for a date on Nov. 15, 2017. Loofe was reported missing the next day, and her dismembered body wasn’t discovered until Dec. 4-5, about an hour’s drive from Trail and Boswell's Wilber apartment along gravel roads near Edgar, Nebraska.

Trail and Boswell both face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. Boswell is scheduled to stand trial in October.

[Read more: Nonprofit urges online safety, says Sydney Loofe's death should not be 'in vain']

FBI Agent Mike Maseth testified Tuesday morning about letters found in the Saline County Jail’s library, recreation room and in Boswell’s cell in March and July of 2018. One of the letters instructed Boswell how to decode the letters.

“I love you to infinity and back,” began a March 19, 2018, letter from Trail to Boswell. “Baby, life will be hard for you for a while, but you’re strong and you’ll get through this.”

That letter came a month after Trail changed his story and began telling investigators that he was responsible for Loofe’s death, but that it was an accidental suffocation during the filming of a sexual fantasy.

“I told them you were not in the room when the delivery was made,” Trail wrote to Boswell, adding that he told investigators that “you did not cut up or bag the drugs,” a reference to Loofe.

He added that he told investigators that there were two unidentified women who participated in the “fantasy” and that they insisted that Boswell help clean up and dispose of the body to guarantee that she would not talk to investigators.

“They think you had a big part in setting up the drug deal, but I told them bulls---, you did not,” Trail wrote.

“Here is your story,” he wrote in a later letter, adding that the story was that he intended to produce a “snuff film” that depicted a young woman being tortured and killed.

“I told you the victim had to look real,” Trail wrote, adding “I told you to do all that stuff.”

The defense presented its first witnesses just before lunch, including a Lincoln friend of Loofe's who said Loofe struggled with depression and anxiety.

During her testimony, one of Trail's court-appointed attorneys, Joe Murray, introduced photos from Loofe's cellphone depicting a bondage scene and nooses hanging from a tree.

The friend, Terra Gehrig, said that just because those photos were on her cellphone it did not indicate that Loofe was "into" that sort of sexual activity.

"She was sexually timid and very shy," Gehrig said. "She was not the kind of person who would have sexual activity with someone she just met."

Also testifying for the defense were two clerks from the Grand Weaver Hotel in Falls City, who said they saw Loofe with Trail and Boswell at the hotel several weeks before Loofe went on two dates with Boswell in November 2017.

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