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Bailey Boswell trial day 6: Witnesses explain how technology helped crack the case

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 8:04 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s no question that technology played a vital role in the investigation into Sydney Loofe’s disappearance.

Several witnesses testified to this point during the sixth day of the Bailey Boswell trial in Lexington, Nebraska.

The first witnesses of the morning were two Iowa hotel managers.

Hunter Birdsall, who manages a Days Inn in Spencer Iowa, testified that Boswell and Aubrey Trail, her co-conspirator, stayed at her hotel from November 23 to November 26, 2017.

She recognized them from a Facebook post a few days after they checked out and called police.

It was a similar story for Jennie Bloom, who works at the front desk of the Grandstay Hotel in Ames, Iowa.

Bloom testified that she checked Trail and Boswell into the hotel on November 26.

The room was in Boswell’s name and she paid with cash.

Bloom said they stayed in the hotel for two days, and then on the 28th paid for a third night.

Bloom went home from work on the 28th and got on social media.

“A friend of mine had posted a link to a news story saying the Lincoln Police Department had named persons of interest in the case so I clicked on it to get more information,” Bloom said. “I saw Trail and Boswell’s mug shots, I recognized them right away.”

Bloom called the tip line and FBI staked out the hotel room.

Trail and Boswell never showed.

A search of the room revealed they had left all of their belongings behind.

“It looked like someone just up and left,” FBI Agent Jackie Hahn said.

On the morning of November 29, nobody knew were Trail or Boswell were.

Then, the couple led to their own discovery.

FBI Agent Mike Maseth said during a meeting he became aware of a video Trail and Boswell had posted to Facebook.

“I worked on that throughout the day on November 29 and came home that night and it was about midnight that we learned another video had been posted,” Maseth said. “So I looked at the video and saw Trail was on it and called Agent McBride and said we have to go into the office now.”

Maseth described how he was able to use data from that video on Facebook to discover it had been posted from a phone in Branson, Missouri.

Maseth said they knew Boswell and Trail had stayed at the Windmill Inn in Branson and they also knew what kind of car they were driving.

At this point, it was about 4:00 a.m. on November 30.

Maseth said they confirmed with local law enforcement that the vehicle they believed Trail and Boswell were driving was parked at the Windmill Inn.

The two were taken into custody that morning.

A search of that hotel room, performed in part by FBI Agents Damon Kreeger and Scott Bakken, showed there were several cell phones, sleeping bags, granola bars, radios and other camping gear found in the hotel room and car parked at the Windmill Inn.

At this point, investigators had Boswell and Trail in custody, but they still didn’t know where Loofe had gone.

This is where Lincoln Police Investigator Bob Hurley’s work comes in.

Hurley was given four phone numbers when he started working the case.

One for Trail, one for Loofe and two for Boswell.

Hurley was able to request information on the phones and using a tracking method with RTT data, discovered the phones belonging to Boswell and Trail traveled west of Wilber on November 16.

“I thought maybe they traveled west to dump a body,” Hurley said. “I knew if someone was going to do that they wouldn’t speed, so they wouldn’t get noticed. They’d also have to leave the roadway at some point to take a gravel road to a secluded area.”

With those assumptions in mind, Hurley used a never-been-used-before technique that mapped the exact movements of Boswell’s cell phones.

He discovered there was unusual activity in Clay County and sent a team of investigators to check it out.

“In 10-15 minutes they called and said they found something,” Hurley said.

Nebraska State Patrol Lieutenant Cory Townsend was one of the officers who conducted that search in Clay County.

He said with the information Hurley provided, they were able to go to a specific intersection and start walking.

Townsend said the terrain was very flat so they stopped walking when they got to the first place that a body could be hidden.

It was after a little while of searching in that first area that Townsend was alerted that a bloody tarp and a yellow stained sheet had been found.

Just after that, he got another call that a black bag was in a ditch.

“I could see a black plastic trash bag partially torn open and from my experience, I knew what I could see and I think there was one portion outside the bag, it was human remains,” Townsend said.

Loofe’s arms were in that bag, her tattoos proving to investigators that it was her.

The jury was shown a photo of that bag, Loofe’s arm was visible.

While that photo was on the screen, Boswell looked down.

On December 5, a more expansive search was conducted and 13 pieces of Loofe’s body were found.

The prosecution is expected to go into more detail about the discovery of Loofe’s body on Thursday. The court has requested the media not publish photos of the remains.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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