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Caleb Leyland Pleads Guilty to Murder of Cynthia Hoffman at Thunderbird Falls

November 22, 2023

(Anchorage, AK) – Today, 24-year-old Caleb Allen Russell Leyland pleaded guilty to the murder of Cynthia Hoffman in June 2019 near Thunderbird Falls. Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson accepted Leyland’s plea to one count of Murder in the Second Degree. The charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder were dismissed as part of the agreement.

The charges against Leyland stem from the June 2, 2019, murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman near Thunderbird Falls in Chugiak, Alaska. The murder of Hoffman involved a group of teenagers who are accused of being “catfished” by Darin Schilmiller to commit the crime for money. The case was investigated by the Anchorage Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of multiple other State and federal law enforcement agencies.

The court will determine Leyland’s sentence at a hearing. The agreement between the parties permits the court to sentence Leyland to a maximum term of imprisonment of 75 years with 25 years suspended.

Sentencing is scheduled to begin June 10, 2024, in front of Judge Peterson.

Leyland is currently in the custody of the Alaska Department of Corrections and is no longer eligible to be released on conditions of release.

CONTACT: Anchorage Assistant District Attorney Patrick McKay at (907) 269-6300 or

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Department Media Contacts: Communications Director Patty Sullivan at or (907) 269-6368. Information Officer Sam Curtis at or (907) 269-6269.