SALINE COUNTY – George and Susie Loofe walked out of the Saline County Courthouse hand-in-hand Thursday afternoon, after spending the day reliving the week their daughter went missing.
Sydney Loofe's mother, Susie Loofe, was the first witness called Thursday in the first degree murder trial of Aubrey Trail. (Source: KOLN)
Aubrey Trail, 53, is facing first-degree murder charges. He's accused of killing and dismember 24-year-old Sydney Loofe. His co-defendant Bailey Boswell faces the same charges.
As the fourth day at trial got underway, the prosecution called multiple witnesses that paint a picture of what happened in the days just before and after November 15, 2017- the last day Sydney was seen alive.
The first witness called was Susie. She took the stand just after 9:00 a.m. and began answering questions about Sydney's life, and last days. The courtroom was somber. Susie's husband George and children were there, watching their mother as she described Sydney's struggles with depression and her desire to get better.
Here's the top points she shared:
- Sydney struggled with depression, she had even talked about checking herself into a mental health facility the week before her death. Instead, she went home for the weekend and spent time with her family. Susie and George went home to Lincoln with her the Monday before, they took her to a doctor where she got a new prescription for antidepressants. Things were looking up. That was the last time George and Susie saw Sydney.
- Sydney had frequently smoked marijuana. The defense questioned her a lot about how often she smoked and how it affected her finances. Susie said she was worried Sydney was spending too much money on marijuana, but also said it wasn't an issue so serious she needed treatment or would do "anything" for marijuana.
- She said she got worried about Sydney's whereabouts on Thursday night. She hadn't been hearing from her and neither had any of Sydney's friends. She called the police and drove to Lincoln the next morning. She went to Sydney's appartment near 66th and Colfax and she wasn't there- but Sydney's cat was. "The cat had no food or water," Susie said. "That's when I knew something was wrong. She would have never left her cat alone."
The next witness the state called was Leah Shaw. Shaw works in human resources at the Menards on N. 27th street Sydney worked at when she went missing. Here's what she had to say:
- Sydney was a dedicated employee. She said she was always willing to help out and was always on time for work. It was very unusual for her to miss work without calling.
- Shaw was aware of Sydney's depression. She said Sydney told her she would wake up and cry every morning. She called in sick because of her struggles with depression once every few weeks. But the day before she went missing, Shaw said Sydney was happier than she'd seen her in a long time.
- Shaw said she was worried sick when Sydney didn't come to work Thursday, Nov. 16. She sent employees to Sydney's home to check on her and hoped she reappear Friday. "I remember standing at the entrance where she'd come in watching to see if her car came into the parking lot and it never did," Shaw said.
Then the state called Lincoln Police Sergeant Tyler Cooper. Cooper was one of the first officers to know Sydney was missing and start looking for her. Here's what he shared.
- Cooper and two officers went to Sydney's apartment on Nov. 15th to check and see if Sydney was there. She wasn't home. But all the lights were on, her car was in the driveway and her purse was on the kitchen counter.
- The biggest red flag was that Sydney had missed work. He tried calling Sydney, but she didn't answer.
- He said there were no signs she had overdosed on her antidepressants and there was no sign of a struggle in her apartment.
Captain Jake Dilsaver with the Lincoln Police Department was questioned next. He took the case over after Cooper left for the night on November 15.
- He did what's called a "ping" on her phone. It shows the location of the last cell phone tower her phone connected to. It lead them to Wilber.
- He learned she went on a date with a woman from Tinder, a dating app, from Sydney's friends and family.
Next the prosecution called one of Sydney's childhood friends, Brittney Flinn. It was a very emotional testimony.
- Flinn said she hung out with Sydney the weekend before she went missing when Sydney was back home in Neligh. She said Sydney seemed happy, but she knew she was struggling with depression.
- The last time she heard from Sydney she learned Sydney had met a woman on Tinder named Audrey. She sent Flinn a picture from Audrey's Tinder profile. She sent the picture to Sydney's little sister Mackenzie.
Another friend testified next, Brooklyn McCrystal. McCrystal used to work at Menards with Sydney. She said Sydney was her best friend.
- McCrystal shared a story of desperately trying to find Sydney. She knew she had gone on a date with a girl named Audrey from Tinder. So McCrystal set up her own Tinder account and tried to "match" with the same Audrey.
- She did, and began communicating with her on Friday, November 17. She asked Audrey for a phone number which she gave to McCrystal, who turned it over to the police.
- McCrystal said she was desperate to find Sydney. "I knew it wasn't normal for her to be gone that long," she said.
More law enforcement testified next. Officer Joseph Yandrick took over the investigation on the 17th.
- Officer Yandrick learned about Sydney's date with the woman who said her named was Audrey as well. He got the photo of Audrey from Sydney's family.
- He called the Saline County Sheriff's Office and gave them her name and photo to see if they knew of her. He also got the phone number of Audrey. He passed it on to Saline County.
- The defense asked if photos or forensic evidence was taken from Sydney's apartment. He said no.
Cameron Cleland, an investigator with the Lincoln Police Department took the stand next.
- He tried to call the phone number apparently associated with Audrey and learned it was a fake number provided by an app that's meant to shield your real phone number.
- Eventually he got her real phone number and was able to talk to Audrey on the phone. She said she met Sydney on a dating app and they had gone on a date. She said they drove around, talked and smoked marijuana. She said she last saw Sydney Wednesday night when she dropped her off at a friend's house. She said she didn't know where that friend lived.
- He said he could tell Audrey was holding back information because she wouldn't give basic details about who she was or where she lived.
- Eventually, Cleland learned Audrey was really Bailey Boswell and she was associated with Aubrey Trail.
- Aubrey Trail called 911 dispatch multiple times the weekend after Sydney went missing to try and get in contact with Clelend, but Clelend never got the messages. The messages asked the police to call him back because investigators were trying to get a hold of his fiance' Bailey Boswell because she was the last person to see Sydney Loofe.
Saline County Sheriff's Deputy Dylan Semrad was next on the stand. He was assigned to the case after a Lincoln Police Officer called the Saline County Sheriff's Office.
- Semrad described how he tried to track down Bailey Boswell. He contacted the application that provided Boswell with the fake phone number.
- The company gave him account information, he learned the account was created by a Verizon Wireless cellphone.
- After contacting Verizon, he was able to track down Boswell's real phone number to turn over to Investigator Clelend at the Lincoln Police Department.
Lincoln Police Investigator Lacey Reha was the last person the prosecution called to the stand.
- She described her attempt to learn more about Bailey Boswell and her activities the days before Sydney went missing.
- Based on phone records she learned Sydney's phone and Boswell's phone had traveled together to Wilber Wednesday night.
- She also learned Boswell had checked into a hotel in Lincoln Tuesday night.
- More phone mapping also showed Boswell had been near the creek in Wilber and near Clay Center the weekend after Sydney went missing.
The judge adjourned court for the day around 4:00 p.m.
It will start Friday at 9:00 a.m. with more witness testimony.
Trail's defense attorneys said they expect the prosecution to call witnesses focusing on law enforcement searches for Sydney in the Wilber area. He said it could be more than a week before the defense starts calling their own witnesses.
He also comment on Trail's health. He said he wasn't worried and that all major health problems like heart attacks and strokes occurred a long time ago.
After defendant Aubrey Trail's absence at the Saline County Court Wednesday, the prosecution was able to call their first witnesses Thursday morning.
Trail, who is facing first-degree murder charges in connection to the death of the 24-year-old Loofe in November 2017, was in court. The judge said he was sick yesterday.
The state called its first witness, Loofe’s mother Susie, shortly after 9 a.m.
Susie Loofe said Sydney was living in a duplex on Colfax Avenue in Lincoln after taking a job at the Lincoln Menards in 2014.
After Sydney went missing, Susie said she went to Sydney’s duplex and found her cat, Mimsey, was without food or water. Susie said Sydney loved her cat and would never leave her alone for that long, indicating something was wrong.
Susie described Sydney as struggling with depression and said the Monday before she went missing she had accompanied her daughter to the doctor to address her difficulties with depression.
Susie said she talked to her daughter over the next few days and then stopped hearing from her. That's when she filed the police report and discovered Sydney's cat Mimsey was left alone.
The defense questioned Susie Loofe once the state had finished its questioning.
The defense asked Susie if she was aware of Sydney’s marijuana use, and she said she was. They asked if it had lead to Sydney's financial struggles and Susie said it had. However, she said she didn't think Sydney would do "anything" for marijuana and didn't believe she needed professional treatment from the drug use.
After Susie appeared, the state called Leah Shaw. Shaw was one of Sydney's supervisors at her job, Menards.
She described Sydney as a dedicated employee who was willing to help out in any way she could and always showed up to work on time.
She said it was highly unusual when Sydney didn't clock in on November 16 and she and other coworkers were immediately concerned about Sydney's well being.
The defense asked Shaw questions about Sydney's work habits. They asked how often she called in sick because of her depression- Shaw said it happened once every week or so. They asked if there had ever been any signs that Sydney was using marijuana at work, or came to work high. Shaw said there hadn't been.
After Shaw was questioned, the state called Lincoln Police Sergeant Tyler Cooper and Captain Jake Dilsaver.
Cooper was the supervising officer for the Northeast Lincoln team when Susie Loofe called police and said she was worried about her daughter.
Cooper said he and other officers went to Sydney's home and tried to get inside, and when they couldn't- they searched it. They didn't find Sydney, but said they found her purse, her car and all the lights on in her home. Cooper said the biggest red flag was that she hadn't shown up for work and because of that he passed the case onto Dilsaver, who was the sergeant for the next shift.
Dilsaver said he assigned an officer to the case and "pinged" Sydney's phone. This means they look for the last place her phone connected with a cellphone tower. He said he found that her phone had been turned off for the last 24 hours, but the last place it "pinged" was in Wilber.
The defense didn't cross examine either Cooper or Dilsaver.
The judge sent the court to lunch at noon. It will start up again at 1:00 p.m.
An order was issued on Wednesday banning media from live tweeting, blogging, or providing any other instantaneous information sharing during the trial.
During the afternoon session, two of Sydney’s friends took the stand.
A friend of Loofe’s from Neligh, her hometown, took the stand first.
When being questioned by the state, she said she last spoke to Loofe two days before she went missing, shortly after Loofe went on a date. Flynn said Loofe sent her a picture of the woman she had went on the date with, which Flynn said was Bailey Boswell, a co-defendant in the case.
The account Loofe interacted with was under the name ‘Audrey Cane’, the friend said.
Another friend of Loofe’s was also called, and described creating a fake Tinder account to contact ‘Audrey Cane’, and was eventually given a phone number during a conversation with the person.
A Lincoln Police investigator was called as a witness, as well, and told the court he called the number that was listed for Audrey Cane, but the person was evasive.
However, at a later date, Trail called called LPD back and said he was calling on behalf of Bailey Boswell.