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A 17-year-old Indiana boy has been arrested and charged with murdering a 19-year-old girl and her boyfriend after investigators found what they believe to be the remains of the couple in a burned-out car.
Connor Kerner, 17, was taken into custody without incident by Porter County Sheriff’s detectives just days after Molley Lanham, 19, and her 18-year-old boyfriend Thomas Grill were last seen alive.
The pair hadn’t been seen since Monday, according to a statement from the Porter County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a charging documents obtained by The Chicago Tribune, Kerner allegedly killed Lanham and Grill on Monday during a drug deal gone bad.
Kerner had arranged to meet Grill in the garage at his grandparent’s home in Hebron for a drug deal, authorities say. Lanham drove her boyfriend there in a black Honda Civic, the same car that would later be found burned and abandoned.
Kerner would later tell an acquaintance that something “really bad” happened after Grill tried to rob him, according to the court documents. Kerner said he started shooting at Grill and missed him twice before hitting him.
The informant said Kerner confided that he beat Grill with a pipe wrench until he died after panicking when he ran out of bullets.
Prosecutors said Kerner then went outside to where Lanham was waiting and asked her to come into the garage, according to WMAQ. After showing her Grill’s body, he allegedly told her “he was going to let her go, but if she told, he would kill her.”
He shot her as she turned to leave, prosecutors allege.
The acquaintance said later that night Kerner seemed “visibly upset” and confessed what had happened earlier in the day.
“I killed someone and I killed an innocent girl,” Kerner reportedly told the acquaintance, according to the affidavit.
Although the acquaintance would eventually go to police, Kerner reportedly threatened to kill the person and their family if they went to authorities about the murders.
According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Office, they were contacted by an anonymous source who told them that Kerner had killed the teens, put them in the car they were driving, drove the car out to a field in rural Hebron and lit it on fire.
Investigators later found the burned-out vehicle with two sets of human remains inside.
“The identity of the two individuals inside the vehicle have not been confirmed, however all evidence obtained at this point at the scene and through statements given, point to the individuals being Thomas Grill and Molley Lanham,” the statement said.
DNA recovered from the scene is being processed to confirm their identities.
Investigators also recovered evidence from Kerner’s home in Valparaiso and the home of his grandparents, who were out of town at the time of the alleged murders.
Investigators informed the victim’s families of the deaths on Saturday.
“I want to send my sincere condolences to Thomas Grill and Molley Lanham’s families on the tragedy they are now facing with the heinous death of their children,” Sheriff David Reynolds said, also thanking investigators and the district attorney’s office for working throughout the weekend to pull the case together.
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