A “sadistic” Nebraska welder was sentenced to up to 90 years in prison after he tortured a man with a blowtorch and hung him on a forklift, and raped a woman, over stolen cartel drugs.
Tanner Danielson, 31, was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 50 for kidnapping and 30 to 40 years for sexual assault after the heinous July 2022 attacks.
Danielson abducted the 26-year-old man after he suspected him of stealing 50 pounds of marijuana, worth up to $200,000, that went missing from his house, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
He said he believed the cartel was going to harm him and his family after the pot was stolen — so he “had to do” it.
The welder kidnapped and tortured the man for more than 12 hours.
During the abduction, Danielson burned the word “thief” onto the unidentified man’s body, beat and drugged him, hanged him from the forklift, and shoved a gun in his mouth — before leaving him in the countryside tied to a tree.
The man only escaped after he miraculously managed to free himself from the tree and ran to the road to flag down help while still handcuffed, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Danielson also raped a woman who had come to the warehouse with him, the outlet reported. He then threatened to kill her if she reported the crime to the police.
The victims were expecting to meet up with Danielson’s co-conspirator Austin Widhalm, 28, to buy cocaine, according to Fox News.
Widhalm has pleaded no contest to assault and false imprisonment.
“Only a sadistic and evil person could do these things to another human being,” Judge Susan Strong told Danielson in court.
Strong said the case was “one of the most heinous factual scenarios” she has seen.
Danielson, meanwhile, begged the court to “see me for who I am” and not judge him on the sickening crime.
“I was scared beyond belief. I had no clue what to do,” he told the judge. “I beg of you to see me for who I am, not for the things I truly felt I had to do to save myself.”
Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jeff Mathers didn’t believe Danielson’s pleas, saying: “Had to beat, torture, restrain and leave — possibly for dead — an individual? He had to rape a woman? Ridiculous. Come on.”
Mathers claimed the perpetrator had a history of violence against women and was involved in the drug trade.
“The facts in this case are as egregious and depraved as anything I’ve nearly ever seen. Narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, sociopath, psychopath. I’m sure some or all of them fit,” the attorney said.
Danielson became involved in the drug trade after meeting people at a concert in Colorado, according to Defense Attorney Chad Wythers. The welder thought he’d be an easy way to make money one time, but then couldn’t get out.
Wythers said Danielson was high on cocaine at the time of the attack.
Widhalm will face sentencing next week.