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Sydney Loofe disappearance: Father pleads for help in search as investigators try to question 'persons of interest'

Sydney Loofe’s father gave an impassioned plea for help finding her Thursday, moments after law enforcement apprehended two people they described as persons of interest in her disappearance.

"In my opinion, someone knows something," George Loofe told reporters during a news conference at the Hall of Justice in Lincoln. "Please do the right thing."

Sydney Loofe, 24, has been missing for two weeks. The FBI has set up a dedicated tip line specifically for information related to her case: 402-493-8688, option 1.

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister answered quickly when asked if there is still hope she could be found alive.

“Yes," the chief said. "Absolutely."

The persons of interest, Aubrey Trail and Bailey Boswell, were being held without bond early Friday at the Taney County Jail in Forsyth, Missouri, about five miles northeast of Branson, according to online jail records.

Courtesy photo 

Aubrey C. Trail

Randy Thysse, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Omaha, said the FBI still is seeking information from the public on Loofe's whereabouts and the investigation, describing the search as "a very fluid situation."

Trail and Boswell were arrested on warrants unrelated to Loofe's disappearance, Bliemeister said. Jail records indicated both were booked on federal holds.

The two did not turn themselves in to law enforcement, the chief told the Journal Star on Thursday, despite Trail saying in a video posted on social media overnight that he and Boswell had "pretty much decided" to come forward.

Bliemeister declined to say whether the videos helped law enforcement track down the pair.

He said investigators have received written correspondence that they believe was authored by Boswell, and that they are analyzing it and comparing it with other statements she made over the phone to a Lincoln investigator.

Investigators from Lincoln, the Saline County Sheriff's Office and the FBI arrived at Trail and Boswell's location around 2 p.m. Thursday hoping to learn whether the two could provide additional information to aid in the search for Loofe, Bliemeister said.

There was no word late Thursday as to whether they were cooperating.

Courtesy photo 

Bailey Boswell

Investigators also were evaluating digital information they continue to receive from telecommunication providers, Bliemeister said. They intend to use that information, along with whatever can be gleaned from interviews with Trail and Boswell, to direct future search efforts.

"The primary focus is on finding Sydney," the chief said.

In Neligh, where George Loofe is a high school principal, and his wife, Susie, is a resource teacher, community members rallied around the family, selling buttons and planning to wear green at a Neligh-Oakdale and Ewing basketball game Thursday night to raise awareness about the case.

Bliemeister said local and federal law enforcement have been "working diligently" to find Sydney Loofe since her mom reported her missing Nov. 16, after she missed work at Menards in north Lincoln. Police have said Loofe was last seen in Wilber the night of Nov. 15.

Searches in the Wilber and Clatonia areas this week did not turn up any new evidence that could lead to where Loofe might be, Bliemeister said. He said a rumor that Loofe's cellphone was found buried in a yard near where Trail and Boswell lived is "not true.”

Photos: Sydney Loofe search

Police publicly identified Trail and Boswell as persons of interest in the case earlier this week. Since then, the pair have posted at least three videos on social media denying any role in Loofe's disappearance.

In a 10-minute video posted overnight Wednesday, Trail dismissed several theories that circulated on social media after Trail, 51, and Boswell, 23, were named by police.

"Not saying I'm a nice guy. I'm a crook, I'm a thief — have been all my life. OK? But I'm not what you're trying to make me out to be,” he said. 

Thursday, Boswell was being held on a misdemeanor warrant for missing a court date last year in Lincoln, where she was accused of possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. And Trail was being held on a newly filed case in Saline County, where he's accused of being a habitual criminal and a felon in possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors asked to file the affidavit for Trail's arrest warrant under seal "due to the sensitive nature of these matters and the likelihood that individuals who are key witnesses or additional participants in this matter may flee the state of Nebraska if this matter is disclosed."

Even now that investigators have located the pair, Thysse said law enforcement officials are seeking any and all information about where Sydney Loofe could be. 

"We're all committed and we are applying all of our resources to help bring Sydney home,” he said.


STEPHEN M. DOWELL, AP file photo 

Scott Frost leads his Central Florida football team onto the field before a game last season. The Wood River native and former Husker is widely expected to announce this weekend that he'll be Nebraska's next coach.


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Cindy Lange-Kubick: A Husker PSA from the Fractured and the Fragile — Scott Frost, Phone Home?

In order to save the empire, bring peace to the kingdom, restore the order, extend the sellout streak, satisfy the long-suffering and, perhaps, increase business at Wendy’s, we must win over Scott Frost.

We know this, even if we aren’t seeing frost warnings that feature footballs on the local TV weather report.

Or traveling to Philadelphia to hold up red-lettered signs in a football stadium asking Central Florida’s head coach to please come home, like worried parents of a runaway.

Or spreading rumors about Frost sightings or writing pleading letters to the editor or raising our hands when NU Athletic Director Bill Moos called us the Fractured and the Fragile.

Scott Bossung is Exhibit No. 1 in that falling-apart fan base. A 42-year-old father of two who went to college with the other Scott, playing the saxophone in the marching band while the Wood River native ran the offense for the football team.

The season ticket-holder — who began wearing blue to home games after Shawn Eichorst got the boot — doesn’t particularly have an opinion one way or the other on whether his old classmate is our new coach.

“The only reason I care is because if he doesn’t come, it’s going to be an absolute dumpster fire,” Bossung said. “Can you imagine? What are we going to do?”

Bossung and his fellow fragile fans have lived in the Land of Dashed Hopes for nearly two decades now.

Now many of its Cornheaded citizens have a plea: Head back to the Heartland, Wayward Son.

“He has the ability to galvanize everybody,” says Josh Gardner, 48, a Husker convert born in Alabama. “Frost is a tie to when we were good.”

Gardner went to high school with Tom Osborne’s daughter. He remembers being in their living room after a loss at Oklahoma and the ugly phone calls from fans that followed.

He sold Coca-Cola at Memorial Stadium before the powers-that-be forbid it and switched to Pepsi. He was there for the walk-ons and the win streaks and the power of “In the Deed the Glory.”

He calls Frank Solich’s firing divisive. Bill Callahan’s insults unforgivable and Bo Pelini’s reign “cancerous.”

Scott Frost? “I think people are excited to have a coach of such an impeccable resume and pedigree, someone we can get behind in the long and arduous process of coming back to prominence.”

Someone who will get more time to put the shine back on our Adidas.

On Thursday morning, the grown-up voice of past gridiron glory — a shared No. 1 national championship in 1997 — was transmitted by a radio station in Orlando, Florida. "There’s only a couple of places in the whole country that I would even think about coaching. Decisions come up and we’re going to have to make some hard decisions and I can tell you that it’s not easy."

The words were duly reported and appropriately parsed, adding to an already deafening clamor for Frost’s return.

Husker fan Tim Schaffert hears the drumbeat from his home in Florida when he clicks on the stories of sportswriters and bloggers back home.

“They’re acting like it’s a done deal,” the 61-year-old UNL grad said. “I read all that stuff and I start thinking, ‘He is the guy. This is going to work.”

He hopes he’s not wrong. Again.

“We’ve struck out so many times, it’s hard not to be a little cynical, but I think he has this will to win.”

Schaffert has a daughter in college in Florida, 70 miles from his home in Clearwater. He’s been to a Frost-coached game.

“There was no defense, so that looks the same as what I’m used to,” he said, laughing. “I just hope he has a defensive coordinator who’s halfway decent.”

The fan from Florida is realistic, too. “I’m exasperated. I think he’s better than the last choice, but I’m going to wait and see what happens.”

Up in Omaha, lifelong fan Janine Erickson, who has worked her way through hundreds of posts on HuskerExtra.com, is rooting for Frost, although she'd settle for Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente.

Either way, she's happy the program is moving on. "Before I had little hope, and now I have hope. A lot more."

And the wait to know who will be the third head coach on the current Husker payroll will soon be over.

Frost’s team plays Memphis for the American Athletic Conference title Saturday and prognosticators expect him to announce his decision — SCOTT, PHONE HOME — shortly after.

For Bossung, it’s hard to get the rah-rah feeling back, even if it’s for an 11-0 vaunted native son, the designated heir to the kingdom, such as it is.

“Right now," the beleaguered fan said, "I feel like a jilted lover who's been cheated on a couple of different times.”


TED KIRK, Journal Star 

Nebraska's Mikaela Foecke, right, and Sami Slaughter work on a drill during practice at the Devaney Sports Center on Thursday, Nov 30, 2017.


Courtesy photo 

Sydney Loofe


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SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Allegations of sexual misconduct roiling Congress

WASHINGTON — As allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful lawmakers roil Congress, House Democrats on Thursday delivered their strongest rebuke yet, with calls for Michigan Rep. John Conyers' resignation, while those in the Senate reserved judgment for their embattled colleague, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi characterized the multiple accusations against the 88-year-old Conyers, which included repeated propositions for sex, and retaliation against one former aide who rebuffed his advances, as "serious, disappointing and very credible."

In no uncertain terms, the top Democrat in the House said, "Congressman Conyers should resign," a call echoed by other Democratic leaders.

Conyers' lawyer, Arnold Reed, swiftly rejected the request as the lawmaker professes his innocence. "Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman, and she sure as hell won't be the one to tell the congressman to leave. That decision will be completely up to the congressman," Reed said.

Reed raised the specter of a double standard as House Democrats pressed for Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, to step aside while few have called for Franken to relinquish his seat.

"At the end of the day, I would suspect that Nancy Pelosi is going to have to explain what is the ... difference between Al Franken and congressman Conyers," Reed said.

Punishment has been swift for titans of entertainment, media and sports, accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior and harassment leading to immediate firings. Not so in Congress, where lawmakers have said ethics panels should have time to investigate and have been reluctant to reverse the will of the voters.

Yet the clamor was growing, with some House Democrats arguing that if Conyers goes, so should Franken. That demand was made hours after Franken faced a new allegation: An Army veteran accused him of groping her during a USO Christmas tour in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

Stephanie Kemplin, 41, of Maineville, Ohio, told CNN that Franken had cupped her right breast when she stood next to him for a photo in December 2003. Kemplin, who was deployed to Kuwait at the time, became the fifth woman in two weeks to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct.

The Senate Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it had opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations against Franken, who has apologized and said he welcomes the probe. A spokesman released a statement Thursday saying that Franken "takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct."

Pelosi's comments came after she faced harsh criticism for calling Conyers an "icon" who has "done a great deal to protect women" during an appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., who was the first House member to publicly opine that Conyers should quit, said she left a Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday out of frustration that leadership wasn't taking the issue of sexual harassment seriously enough. But by Thursday, the highest-ranking members of the party had upped the ante from simply backing an ethics investigation and emphasizing the importance of due process for those accused to calling for Conyers' resignation.

"Zero tolerance means consequences — for everyone no matter how great the legacy it's not license to harass or discriminate," Pelosi said.

Rice and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, have called for Conyers and Franken to quit.

"These are credible allegations, and I believe these women," Ryan wrote in a Tweet on Thursday. "Congress should set the example for all industries and be a safe place for women to work."

In a different case of sex and a House member, Rep. Joe Barton, a 17-term Republican from Texas who announced earlier this month he was seeking re-election, decided Thursday that he wouldn't, just a week after a nude photo of him leaked on social media.

Although his House colleagues didn't call for his resignation or suggest he not run again, Barton faced increasing political pressure in his home state to step aside. Earlier this week, a Republican announced he'd run against Barton in next year's primary.

"Obviously, you know I've been in a little bit of a controversy," Barton said Thursday. "I just felt it was time to pass the torch."

But on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers on Congress have universally condemned harassment and discrimination, responses to specific allegations still vary.

Despite the multitude of allegations, Franken's colleagues in the Senate have consistently condemned the alleged behavior but stopped short of asking him to quit.

"I think the Senate Ethics Committee is the place where the fact-finding should be done, and then the remedy should be recommended," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., adding that the investigation should be conducted "in a matter of days or weeks, not months."