Father of woman murdered at Thunderbird Falls dies during memorial motorcycle ride

Timothy Hoffman, whose 19-year-old daughter was murdered in an elaborate catfishing plot five years ago, died Sunday in a motorcycle crash during a memorial ride marking the anniversary of her death.

Hoffman’s wife, Barbara “Jeanie” Hoffman, was riding on the back of his bike and was seriously injured, their family said.

Sunday marked five years since their daughter, Cynthia Hoffman, was killed. The case garnered national attention.

Timothy Hoffman, 58, lost control of his motorcycle around 1:30 p.m. near Mile 49 of the Parks Highway, Alaska State Troopers said. He left the shoulder of the road and rolled into the center median, they said. The area is west of Wasilla near Meadow Lakes.

The couple was unresponsive and transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, troopers said. Timothy Hoffman was pronounced dead at the hospital and his wife remained sedated and in critical condition on Monday, said Tanya Chaison, who is engaged to Timothy Hoffman’s twin brother.

Timothy Hoffman was not wearing a helmet when he crashed, troopers said. Even with a full-face helmet, Jeanie Hoffman sustained skull fractures, had a broken back and other broken bones, Chaison said. She underwent surgery on Sunday and will need more surgeries going forward, she said.

This was the first year Jeanie Hoffman rode on her husband’s bike during the annual memorial ride for their daughter.


Then-18-year-old Denali Brehmer had started an online relationship with Darin Schilmiller, a 21-year-old man from Indiana who posed as a millionaire, prosecutors have said. Schilmiller shared his dark fetishes with Brehmer and promised to pay her $9 million to kill someone and send him photos and videos of it, authorities have said.

Brehmer recruited four friends to kill Cynthia Hoffman, who considered Brehmer to be her best friend, according to prosecutors. The group led her to Thunderbird Falls on June 2, 2019, bound her with duct tape, fatally shot her and dumped her body into the Eklutna River, according to investigators.

For the last five years, Timothy Hoffman attended every court hearing in his daughter’s case and advocated for defendants to serve maximum sentences. He was often outfitted in his black leather biking jacket and carried his small support dog, Diego. Timothy Hoffman was the president of a Christian motorcycle ministry.

During recent court hearings, he described the anger, heartbreak and devastation her death had caused his family.

Patrick McKay, a lead Anchorage prosecutor on some of the numerous criminal cases associated with the teenager’s death, said, “I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Hoffman on the fifth anniversary of Cynthia Hoffmann’s murder. It seems almost too unbelievable to be true.”

Hoffman was a “zealous advocate” for his daughter, McKay said.

“I hope his family and friends take comfort in remembering that Tim died doing something he loved, with people he loved, in memory of someone he loved,” he said.

Timothy Hoffman’s children, including Cynthia, experienced developmental disabilities. He was a father of six, drove them to and from school daily and took careful steps, including hourly phone calls, to make sure they were always safe, he said during court hearings. He frequently described Cynthia, who went by the nickname “CeCe,” as “daddy’s right-hand man.”

Jeanie Hoffman was beginning to find closure in her daughter’s death, which was one of the reasons she joined her husband on a motorcycle Sunday, said his brother, Robert Hoffman. In previous years, she followed the memorial ride in a vehicle, he said.

After a court hearing in May, Timothy Hoffman described his plans for the memorial ride: first, a breakfast at the Carousel Lounge, then a motorcycle ride with several stops, including Thunderbird Falls, where his daughter died.

This year, Timothy Hoffman said he wanted the ride to be a celebration for justice.

Brehmer, Schilmiller and two other defendants who were charged in Anchorage Superior Court have since pleaded guilty to charges tied to her death. Brehmer and Schilmiller were both sentenced to 99 years in prison.

“It’s not a time to mourn anymore — it’s a time to let this go,” Timothy Hoffman said last month. “It’s time to have a celebration for justice. And CeCe has been getting justice.”

More than 15 other motorcyclists rode with Timothy Hoffman on Sunday and more people joined in cars, his family estimated. In total, about 50 people made it to the stops along the way. At Thunderbird Falls, the group tossed roses over the bridge, his longtime friend Leslie Sonnenberg said.

Timothy Hoffman crashed on his way to the final stop in Big Lake, she said. Another estimated 50 people were waiting there to celebrate and listen to live music, his brother said.

Timothy Hoffman’s family and friends said they are devastated by his death and especially shocked that it happened during his daughter’s memorial ride.

“He’s with his daughter now,” said Sonnenberg. “Too soon and not the way he hoped.”

Daily News reporter Michelle Theriault Boots contributed to this report.

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Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at