Bailey Boswell Trial Day 5: Boswell, Trail’s landlords discuss strong bleach smell

Jennifer Koll testifies about the strong smell of bleach she noticed coming from the apartment...
Jennifer Koll testifies about the strong smell of bleach she noticed coming from the apartment her family rents out of their basement. Trail and Boswell lived in that apartment at the time of Sydney Loofe's death.(KOLN)
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 11:42 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On the second full day of testimony, the prosecution in the Bailey Boswell trial, called Boswell and co-conspirator, Aubrey Trail’s landlords to the witness stand.

Alan Koll, was the first of the family to testify. He told the jury he met Trail and Boswell in June of 2017 when the two came to inquire about an apartment.

“They showed up and looked at the apartment, Aubrey did most of the talking,” Koll said. “They indicated they were antique dealers moving a business from Falls City to Lincoln and were looking for somewhere to live closer to Lincoln.”

Koll told the defense that in these conversations Trail didn’t seem controlling.

“He asked Bailey, ‘what do you think, do you want to rent the apartment?’” Koll said.

Koll said Trail was the one who paid the rent. He paid in cash and often paid more than one month at a time.

The landlord’s interactions with Trail and Boswell were brief. Koll said they would say hello occasionally or he would drop off extra vegetables from their garden. It wasn’t until November 15, 2017 that there was any unusual behavior.

Koll said he received a message from his wife saying when she drove into the garage she could smell a very strong smell of Clorox and it was affecting her asthma.

Jennifer testified following her husband. She said she’s allergic to bleach so this day sticks out her mind.

“I react very quickly,” Jennifer said. “I throw up, get nauseous, headaches, start breaking out.”

Jennifer said the smell was so strong in the garage and throughout the entire home, she had to open all her windows and doors and step outside to get fresh air. Because of her allergy, she doesn’t keep bleach in her home and nobody in her family uses it.

“I was looking for the source so I went toward the stairs leading down to the basement and the further I got down the stairs, the stronger the smell,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer’s son, Dayton testified that he lives in a bedroom in the basement that shares two walls with the apartment. He lived there at the same time Boswell and Trail did, though he said he never interacted with them. He told the jury he got home around 10:30 on the night of November 15 and stayed awake until 1 or 2 in the morning on the 16th. He was asked if he noticed anything out of the ordinary.

“I don’t recall hearing any yelling or screaming,” He said. “If I did hear anything it would have been normal conversations. I’ve lived with neighbors my whole life almost so if I heard any normal conversations I’ve learned to tune it out.”

He did say when he went to bed there was a slight bleach smell that got worse the morning of the 16th.

Jennifer also testified that she initially believed she saw Sydney Loofe at her home in Wilber prior to her disappearance, but now she thinks she could have remembered incorrectly.

The defense reminded Koll that in an interview with police she was confident she saw Loofe while mowing her lawn, but the prosecution said at the time Koll said Loofe was there, Loofe is seen working at Menards on security footage.

In the days following that bleach smell, investigators came knocking on the Koll’s door, needing to search the apartment.

One of the investigators in on the search, is Nebraska State Patrol investigator Pedro Nabegh.

“We were looking for things that could establish a timeline for Sydney Loofe or the residents, for DNA evidence that could be Sydney Loofe’s or the residents for later comparisons,” Nabegh said.

Nabegh walked the jury through dozens of photos he took inside the apartment.

They found a prescription bottle with the name Kaitlyn Brandle on it, a receipt with the name Anastasia Golyakova, bottles of bleach, a stained bedsheet and torn up receipts.

Prosecutor Mike Guinan held up the bleach bottles in court.

Nabegh confirmed they looked like the same bottles he saw in the house.

Defense attorney Todd Lancaster questioned him about this piece of evidence.

“Do you have any idea when they (the bleach) were purchased, when they were used,” Lancaster said. “All you know is they were in the house.”

“Correct,” Nabegh said.

Guinan also displayed the gray bedsheet that was taken off the bed.

Nabegh pointed out some yellow stains on the sheet.

During opening statements, prosecutor Sandra Allen said a sheet was found with Loofe’s body. Allen said the sheet appeared yellow, like it had been a darker fabric that was washed with bleach.

Lincoln Police Investigator Cynthia Koenig-Warnke was also involved in searches in the Wilber apartment.

Her role was to use lights and chemicals to look for blood evidence. She testified that she used a tool called BlueStar to test an area in the living room.

“It was a unique reaction I had never seen before,” Koenig-Warnke said. “It illuminated and it had that sparkle and it had a circular pattern. It was a unique reaction both to have some kind of false positive and illumination that was positive for blood.”

Koenig-Warnke said false positives can be caused by household cleaners, among other chemicals.

The next notable witness is Lincoln Police detective Matt Franken.

Franken helped fill in the blanks between Sydney’s disappearance and Boswell and Trail being arrested.

Franken said he became aware of Loofe’s disappearance on the 19th, and was immediately concerned.

“The circumstances surrounding her disappearance was very suspicious to us, the smell of bleach was very suspicious,” Franken said.

Franken’s first step was to go to Saline County to meet with Saline County Sergeant Richard Zimmerman to discuss the initial searches of Boswell and Trail’s apartment and to secure a search warrant for an in-depth search.

He said they then found out Boswell and Trail were traveling with a young blonde woman with a thick Russian accent in October, and once they found the antique receipt with her name on it, a crew headed to Antique Aardvark Mall.

Another team headed to Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs.

The security at the hotel and casino had capture Boswell on surveillance video.

Franken said Boswell and Trail were seen on camera at the hotel with a third person identified as Kaitlyn Brandle on November 17.

By the time they arrived on the 19th, they weren’t there anymore.

“Typically in the 21st century, we catch a lot of people using their phones,” Franken said. “That wasn’t working so we had to do the things we did before cell phones existed.”

Franken said he found out Boswell’s grandmother was sick and would likely die very soon and her funeral would be the week of November 25. He said he had the FBI wait at the funeral in Leon, Iowa just in case Boswell showed up, which she didn’t.

They also started a tip-line. They got two tips that Boswell and Trail were spotted in Iowa.

At the end of it, it was Boswell and Trail who lead to their own arrest. Franken said they posted a video on Facebook which allowed police to track them to a hotel in Branson, Missouri on Nov. 30, 2017.

At this time, they still didn’t know where Loofe was.

Lincoln Police investigator Bob Hurley, who lead police to Loofe’s body using cellphone data is likely to testify Wednesday.

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