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As evidence from Sydney Loofe’s autopsy was revealed Monday, one of her murder suspects was once again absent from his own trial.
Aubrey Trail “has decided not to appear again today” Judge Vicky Johnson told the jury in Saline County District Court when the proceedings resumed after the four-day weekend.
Testimony centered around Sydney’s cause of death and the tools used in her dismemberment as the prosecution neared the end of its witnesses.
FBI agent Mike Maseth testified again as Tinder and text messages were briefly discussed. He said Trail’s co-defendant Bailey Boswell created the Twitter account “Audrey” — the account she used to communicate with Sydney — on Nov. 8, 2017. This was exactly one week before their final date.
Nov. 15, 2017 was also the day Boswell texted K.B., “I won’t see you. I will be busy for the next few days.” Maseth said that text was sent at 10:34 a.m.
One minute after that text, Trail and Boswell checked out at Home Depot in Lincoln with a hacksaw and replacement blades, a box cutter, blades for a utility knife, a 3 pack of plastic drop cloths and tin snips.
Sydney’s dismembered body was discovered in rural Clay County on Dec. 4, 2017. Pathologist Dr. Michelle Elieff conducted her autopsy on Dec. 7, she said.
Before Elieff took the stand on Monday, the judge warned the jury.
“It may be difficult to look at some of these photos, but it’s important that you understand the state’s contention,” Johnson said.
Screens projecting the photos were pointed towards the judge and jury. The one facing the audience was shut off.
Elieff walked the jurors through a Powerpoint presentation of the autopsy. She said the body was dismembered into at least 14 pieces, 13 of which were found. In her findings, Elieff said she discovered possible signs of a struggle, including blunt force trauma on the top of her head near the back, a torn earlobe, broken hyoid bone in the neck, abrasions and bruising on her back and ligature marks on the tops of her wrists.
“She died of homicidal means, including strangulation,” she said. Elieff continued by saying “homicidal means is a death at the hands of another.”
When Trail’s attorney, Joe Murray, cross examined her, he suggested that some of the injuries could also be consistent with “rough sex” or “erotic asphyxiation,” including the broken bone in her neck.
“The hyoid bone is deep into the tissue of the neck,” Elieff countered. “It would be very uncommon to fracture it. Very uncommon for mutual consent.”
Dr. Steven Symes, a forensic anthropologist and tool-marking expert, conducted studies on Sydney’s remains after the autopsy was complete. During his testimony, he also had photos of his work and demonstrated where cuts were made on a skeleton model.
Symes determined that three tools were used in her dismemberment: a knife, a hacksaw and a scissor-like cutting tool similar to one used to cut trees.
He said the hacksaw likely had a blade with about 24 teeth per inch.
Mike Guinan of the Attorney General’s Office presented a hacksaw like the one Trail and Boswell purchased at Home Depot on Nov. 15, 2017. Symes said it was consistent with the classification of saw used in the dismemberment. Guinan introduced the box cutter and tin snips like the ones the couple purchased, and Symes indicated they could be classified as the other two tools used.
When asked how long it would take to complete the dismemberment, he didn’t know an exact amount of time.
“There were a lot of cuts here, so it would take a lot of time,” Symes said. “That’s all I can say.”
He said counting “false stars” and “clean cuts,” he estimated roughly 64 cuts were made.
“That’s more than I usually see,” Symes said.