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'Beaten, burned ... and branded': Two held captive in Lincoln warehouse, police say

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LINCOLN — In an apparent act of retaliation for an alleged burglary, a Lincoln man and his co-defendant kidnapped and tortured a man and his friend late Thursday, holding them captive in a local warehouse for 12 hours, police alleged in court records filed Monday.

A 26-year-old man told Lincoln police he was “beaten, burned with a blowtorch and branded” with the word “thief” after he was ambushed by two men amid a drug deal Thursday night, Lincoln police investigator Christopher Schamber said in an arrest affidavit.

The next morning, authorities found the tortured man — still handcuffed — walking near the Gage County border, about 30 minutes south of Lincoln’s southern edge.

In an interview with investigators, the victim identified a 30-year-old Lincoln man and a 26-year-old Hickman man as the two responsible for the alleged attack and torture, Schamber said in the affidavit.

Both men have been charged in Lancaster County with a string of felonies, including first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree false imprisonment and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.

The Lincoln man was also charged with first-degree sexual assault of the woman who was held captive, according to court filings.

The Hickman man was arrested Friday in Lincoln, and the Lincoln man was arrested Monday afternoon in Rapid City, South Dakota, Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins said at a Monday afternoon press conference.

“Let me just be clear: One of the reasons why we wanted to come before you is to let the public know that there was a relationship between all these people,” Ewins told reporters. “We don’t know to what degree, but it is not random. And so we want everyone to understand that this is not random.”

In an interview with investigators at a Beatrice hospital on Friday, the 26-year-old victim told police he was struck by a wrench and handcuffed near 56th Street and Interstate 80 around 11 p.m. Thursday after he and the woman acquaintance had gone to the location to buy cocaine, Schamber said.

For the next several hours, he told police, the man was handcuffed to a table or had his wrists hoisted in the air as he was tortured, Schamber said. Police noted the man had two black eyes and brand marks on his face, arms and legs.

The victim accused the Lincoln man of putting a semi-automatic handgun into his mouth and threatening to kill him, according to the affidavit. The man also later allegedly put a tab of LSD into the victim’s mouth and made the man eat it, but the 26-year-old told police he spit much of it out and vomited.

And, at some point, investigators allege the Lincoln man sexually assaulted the woman — who wasn’t otherwise tortured but told police she was also held against her will and threatened — after escorting her to the warehouse’s bathroom, Schamber said.

It’s unclear how the two suspects accessed the warehouse where they are alleged to have held their victims captive, a detail Ewins said “is a part of the ongoing investigation.”

The Lincoln man later drove the woman home from the warehouse, noting her address and threatening to kill her if she reported the incident to law enforcement, the woman later told police. She did not report the crime.

After hours of torture, the male victim said, the two men bound him and taped his mouth shut before driving him to rural Gage County, where they tied him to a tree, Schamber said.

When the two men left him bound there, he said they warned him that if he wasn’t still there Monday, they would kill his family, according to the affidavit.

Then the men left in the victim’s vehicle, which investigators later found outside the Hickman man’s home.

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