Two held captive in Lincoln warehouse where they were ‘beaten, burned,’ police say

The man was branded with the word 'thief' and had several burn marks on his body.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A Lincoln man was tortured and branded and one other person was sexually assaulted in a Lincoln warehouse, according to an arrest affidavit.

A 26-year-old told Lincoln Police he was beaten, burned and branded with the word “Thief” after he was kidnapped by two men Thursday night, according to court records.

The victim was hit over the head with a wrench and handcuffed near 56th Street and Interstate 80 around 11 p.m. after he and a woman went to buy drugs, court documents show.

The woman was also kidnapped and sexually assaulted then later released.

Tanner Danielson, 30, of Lincoln told the victim that if she reported the incident he would kill her, documents say.  She never reported the incident to the police.

The male victim escaped after being handcuffed and tied to a tree in Gage County.

Authorities found him walking down a rural road on Friday.  He was still handcuffed with burn marks on his face, arms and legs from the branding iron.

The victim told police that Danielson, and Austin Widhalm, 26, of Hickman, were the men responsible for the alleged attack and torture.

Lincoln police arrested Widhalm on Friday at his home on suspicion of kidnapping, first-degree assault, first-degree sexual assault, use of a weapon to commit a felony and two counts of false imprisonment.

Widhalm’s bond was set at $500,000 after his first court appearance Monday afternoon.

Danielson was arrested on Monday by a task force in South Dakota on suspicion of first-degree assault, first-degree sexual assault, use of a weapon to commit a felony and false imprisonment.

Lincoln Police Chief Theresa Ewins says there is currently no threat to the public and that there was a prior relation to all of the people involved.

The investigation is open and ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Lincoln Police Department at 402-441-6000 or Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.

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