For weeks, Sydney Loofe’s last Tinder date has proclaimed innocence to pretty much anybody who would listen.
Yes, Bailey Boswell said, the two women had swiped right on the dating app and met up. Yes, they had driven around the Lincoln, Neb., area getting acquainted and high at the same time. Yes, Loofe had been to her house.
But Boswell claimed the last time they saw each other, Loofe was safe and alive, headed into a friend’s house a week before Thanksgiving.
Most important, Boswell said, the claims that people had been making about foul play after the two women met online were false. Boswell says she and her roommate — 51-year-old Aubrey Trail — were being unfairly targeted by authorities searching for the missing 24-year-old.
On Tuesday, police announced a grim turn in the case: They had found Loofe’s body in a rural part of Clay County. They believe she was a victim of foul play.
No one has been charged in connection with Loofe’s death. But police said Boswell, 23, and Trail were still persons of interest. They’re both in jail after being arrested on unrelated warrants.
“By their own statements on social media, we believe that Aubrey Trail and Bailey Boswell were two of the last people . . . to be with Sydney Loofe [before] her disappearance, and that’s why they continue to be persons of interest,” said Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister in a Tuesday news conference.
He added that investigators had “extensively explored the statements” Trail and Boswell made denying their involvement in Loofe’s disappearance.
“The investigative efforts have not been able to confirm those particular details.”
On Nov. 15, Loofe was excited about her date with Boswell.
The Lincoln woman was wearing a cream-colored shirt and a light Columbia-brand jacket when she sent her friends a Snapchat with an emoji and an anticipatory caption: “Ready for my date.”
But Loofe never showed up for her shift at Menard’s home improvement store in Lincoln on Nov. 16.
Her disappearance ignited a search that captivated the Lincoln area and drew in resources from neighboring law enforcement agencies and the FBI. Nearly 30,000 people followed the “Finding Sydney Loofe” page on Facebook.
The spotlight quickly turned to Boswell and Trail. There was the suspicious Snapchat, and Loofe’s cellphone had last pinged a tower while it was at Boswell and Trail’s home.
The pair insisted they had not done anything wrong. Over the ensuing weeks, they went on the offensive, posting a video “giving our side” on the Facebook page set up to help locate Loofe.
In the nine-minute video, they said that police had been “chasing us around like dogs” and that the last time they saw Loofe she was alive, despite what they were reading online.
“So far today, from the comments, we have apparently murdered this lady. We have apparently put her into human trafficking and sold her,” Trail said sarcastically. “And not only did we do that, we . . . went to the casino and used the money that we sold her for.”
Still, their self-produced videos didn’t paint them in the best light. In rambling statements, for example, Trail said he was guilty of several crimes, just not ones involving Loofe.
Some of their statements were contradictory. Both said they had warrants out for their arrest but that they were being unfairly targeted by police. They claimed to be cooperating with authorities but also described themselves as “on the run.”
Boswell said she went by different names online, “because I have warrants.”
But those things, they said, didn’t make them murderers.
“We’re not trying to defend anything,” he said. “We’re not trying to make you believe anything. We just feel we should get to say our side since everyone else gets to say theirs.”
The videos apparently didn’t sway police, who took both into custody on unrelated warrants on Friday. It was unclear if they had attorneys. A lawyer whom Trail mentioned in the video, Douglas Werz, said in a statement that he had not been hired by the man.
Three days after the arrests, Loofe’s family posted news of her death on the Facebook page they’d set up to help find her.
“It’s with heavy hearts that we share this most recent update with you all,” the post said. “Please continue to pray for Sydney and our entire family. May God grant eternal rest unto thee. We love you Sydney.”
In the online dating space, finding a safe solution to scams has evaded law enforcement authorities and the sites themselves, according to David Evans, who has tracked the business of online dating since 2002.
A perfect tool doesn’t yet exist to vet the person at the other end of a match, Evans told The Washington Post. Even if it did, users would be wary of putting sensitive information — a decade-old DUI, for example, or a teenage misdemeanor — on a site anyone could access.
“The dating industry doesn’t have enough usable tools to date to be able to provide additional levels of comfort or confidence in the other person,” Evans told The Post. “If they had done an ID verification, even a simple verification app, that scares people away.
“This is always going to happen. There are always going to be these sad stories.”