Indiana Couple Charged with Abusing Teen

A Lake County, Ind., couple faces felony charges for criminal confinement and strangulation of a teen

Thursday, Dec 15, 2011  |  Updated 11:59 AM CDT
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Vernon D. Widner, 55, and Tina L. Graham Widner, 40,

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A Lake County, Ind., couple faces 16 felony counts for allegedly abusing a teenage boy and locking him in a dog kennel.

Vernon D. Widner, 55, and his fiance, Tina L. Graham Widner, 40, both of the 12000 block of West 162nd Avenue were charged with criminal confinement, battery, intimidation, neglect of a dependent and strangulation of Widner's 14-year-old son, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.

Lake County Police said they first heard about the teen when Widner and Graham Widner reported he ran away. The boy told officers he left because of the abuse.

Police told the publication the boy said the couple denied him regular meals since sixth grade, beat him with a horsewhip, locked him in the dog kennel overnight, forced him to remove his clothes for beatings and put a loaded gun to his head and threatened him with it.

The couple took him out of school last January for homeschooling, but an investigator for the Indiana Department of Children Services couldn't find evidence of an alternative education arrangement.

Graham Widner posted $5,000 bond, and Widner remained in jail Thursday. They face a maximum 20 years in prison if convicted.

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