Welder committed ‘sadistic’ torture over stolen cartel drugs

LINCOLN, NE – former welder from Nebraska, Tanner Danielson, 31, has been sentenced to decades in prison after committing a series of brutal crimes. Danielson was handed a 40 to 50-year sentence for kidnapping and a 30 to 40-year sentence for sexual assault, following his no contest plea in June.

Danielson’s descent into criminality began after he encountered drug cartel members at a Colorado concert. When 50 pounds of marijuana went missing from his home, Danielson feared the cartel would harm his family. In a desperate and violent response, he kidnapped a couple, suspecting the male of the theft. The man was subjected to a horrifying ordeal, drugged, tortured with a blowtorch, and hung from a forklift, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The presiding judge, Susan Strong, condemned Danielson’s actions, labeling him as “sadistic and evil.” Danielson took his brutality to another level by branding the word “thief” into the male victim’s skin with a blowtorch. He then sexually assaulted the female victim and abandoned the male victim, tied to a tree, 50 miles from town.

The male victim managed to escape and was found by a passing motorist who contacted the police. When deputies arrived, they found him severely injured, with two black eyes and burns. He reported being held captive and tortured for 12 hours.

The victims had believed they were meeting Danielson and his accomplice, Austin Widhalm, to buy cocaine. Widhalm, 28, has also pleaded no contest to charges of assault and false imprisonment and is awaiting sentencing.

Danielson was captured by a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force on August 1, 2022, in Rapid City, South Dakota.