In a shocking case that has left the community in disbelief, a Nebraska welder has been sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for a series of sadistic and horrifying crimes. Tanner Danielson, 31, was found guilty of kidnapping, sexual assault, and torture after he believed a man had stolen 50 pounds of marijuana, which he claimed belonged to a dangerous cartel. The brutal attacks took place in July 2022 and have been described as one of the most heinous scenarios ever witnessed by Judge Susan Strong.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Danielson's motive behind these gruesome acts stemmed from his fear that the cartel would harm him and his family if the stolen drugs were not recovered. In a chilling display of sadism, he abducted the 26-year-old man suspected of theft and subjected him to unimaginable torture for over 12 hours. The victim was burned with a blowtorch, forcibly hung from a forklift, beaten, drugged, and even had the word “thief” burned onto his body. The torment didn't stop there, as Danielson then shoved a gun in the man's mouth before ultimately leaving him tied to a tree in a remote countryside area.
It is a testament to the victim's sheer determination and will to survive that he managed to free himself from the tree and run to the nearest road, still handcuffed, where he successfully flagged down help. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that the man was found with visible injuries such as burns, black eyes, and other wounds, a testament to the brutality he endured during his captivity.
In addition to these horrific acts, Danielson also sexually assaulted a woman who had accompanied him to the warehouse. He went on to threaten her life if she dared to report the crime to the police. It is believed that both victims were under the impression that they were meeting up with Danielson's accomplice, Austin Widhalm, to purchase cocaine, according to authorities.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Strong did not mince words, describing Danielson as "only a sadistic and evil person" capable of such atrocities. She also remarked that this case presented one of the most heinous factual scenarios she had ever encountered in her career.
In his defense, Danielson pleaded with the court to "see me for who I am" and not solely judge him based on his heinous crimes. He claimed to have been scared beyond belief and felt he had no choice but to commit these acts in order to save himself. However, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jeff Mathers vehemently dismissed Danielson's pleas, calling them ridiculous and pointing out the defendant's history of violence against women and involvement in the drug trade.
Interestingly, Defense Attorney Chad Wythers argued that Danielson's involvement in the drug trade stemmed from an ill-fated decision to make quick money after meeting individuals at a concert in Colorado. According to Wythers, Danielson initially believed it to be a one-time opportunity, only to find himself trapped in a dangerous world from which he couldn't escape. The defense also revealed that Danielson was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the attacks.
Danielson's accomplice, Austin Widhalm, is set to face sentencing next week on assault and false imprisonment charges. The community eagerly awaits a final resolution to this horrifying case, hoping for justice and closure for the victims of Tanner Danielson's sadistic actions.
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