Kidnapper uses blowtorch to torture man who stole drugs from him

LANCASTER COUNTY, NE- A 31-year-old man in Nebraska has been sentenced to 70 to 90 years in prison for kidnapping and torturing a man he believed had stolen from him. Tanner Danielson used a blowtorch to brand the victim with the word “thief” before leaving him tied up in a rural area to die. The Lancaster County District Court Judge, Susan I. Strong, handed down the sentence after Danielson pleaded no contest to attempted kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault charges. His co-defendant, Austin Widhalm, also pleaded no contest to assault and false imprisonment charges.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Strong described Danielson’s actions as one of the most heinous scenarios she had ever encountered. The incident occurred on July 29 when the Gage County Sheriff’s Office found a man walking down a rural road, bound and injured. The victim, later identified as a 26-year-old man, revealed that he had been kidnapped in Lincoln, Nebraska, and taken to an unknown location in Gage County. A woman who was with him had also been kidnapped, beaten, and sexually assaulted.

According to the police, the victim reported that Danielson and Widhalm took him to an unfamiliar area, tied him to a tree while still bound, and subjected him to horrific abuse. Eventually, he managed to free himself and seek help from a Gage County Sheriff’s Deputy. The victim was treated for severe burn marks on his face, arms, and legs, which were inflicted by Danielson using a blowtorch to brand him with the word “thief.” He also disclosed that the men force-fed him acid.

Danielson was arrested three days after the victim contacted authorities in Rapid City, South Dakota. Widhalm was taken into custody at his home on the same day. The victim stated that the attack was likely in retaliation for him stealing approximately 50 pounds of marijuana that Danielson had purchased in Colorado.

Judge Strong emphasized the sadistic and evil nature of Danielson’s actions, stating that only a person with such qualities could inflict such harm on another human being. Danielson will be eligible for parole after serving at least 35 years in prison. Widhalm is scheduled to be sentenced next week and could face a maximum sentence of just over 20 years in prison.