High School Student Charged As Adult With Murder Of 2 Missing Indiana Teens

In recounting what happened, friends of Connor Kerner say he claimed to have disposed of murdered bodies before, and that he threatened to kill them and their families if they ever spoke of what happened.

March 05, 2019
Thomas Grill and Molley Lantham [St. John Police Department]

Photo by: Thomas Grill and Molley Lantham [St. John Police Department]

Thomas Grill and Molley Lantham [St. John Police Department]

By: Mike McPadden

St. JOHN, IN — A 17-year-old high school student has been charged as an adult in connection to the deaths of two other Indiana teenagers over what authorities claim was a drug deal gone wrong.

Connor Kerner, 17, stands accused of killing Molley Lanham, 19, and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Thomas Grill. The alleged crime took place in the garage of Kerner’s grandparents’ home, located about an hour outside of Chicago.

Connor Kerner [Porter County Sheriff]

Photo by: Connor Kerner [Porter County Sheriff]

Connor Kerner [Porter County Sheriff]

Police say Molley Lanham drove Thomas Grill to the grandparents’ garage, and then waited in the car while Kerner and her boyfriend enacted some kind of drug deal inside.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Kerner claimed Grill “tried to rob him,” and a physical struggle ensued. Kerener then allegedly fired multiple gunshots at Grill and hit him once.

Afterward, the arrest warrant states, “Grill fell to the ground and was begging for his life. [Kerner] panicked due to being out of bullets in the gun. Kerner then beat [Grill] with a wrench until he died.”

From there, Kerner allegedly stepped outside and convinced Lanham to come into the garage. Once there, Kerner reportedly showed Lanham her boyfriend’s dead body, and said he was going to let her go, but if she said anything, he’d find her and kill her.

Prosecutors say that, after that, “When she turned to leave the garage, Kerner shot her in the head, killing her.”

Two friends of Kerner’s told investigators that he had come to them and said, “I did something really bad. I killed someone, and I killed an innocent girl.”

The friends alleged that Kerner loaded the bodies into the trunk of Lanham’s black Honda Civic, drove it several miles away to a rural field in Hebron, and torched the vehicle with “three propane cylinders and three bottles of ‘tiki’ fluid.” Afterward, Kerner walked back to his grandparents’ house.

In recounting what happened, the friends say Kerner claimed to have disposed of murdered bodies before, and that he threatened to kill them and their families if they ever spoke of what happened.

Lanham and Grill’s parents reported the teens missing on February 26. On March 1, Kerner’s friends went to the Porter County’s Sheriff’s Office and directed authorities to the approximate location of Lanham’s Honda.

Officers found the car and reported discovering, “two heavily burnt bodies [with] skull fractures to one and an apparent gunshot wound to the head of the other.” The report also stated, “All evidence obtained at this point at the scene and through statements given, point to the individuals being Thomas Grill and Molley Lanham.”

In the wake of Kerner’s arrest, Molley Lanham’s family released a statement that read in part: “Molley was a beautiful, loved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, and friend. She will be deeply missed by everyone that knew her… The family appreciates the condolences, well wishes, and love that has been sent to them. Hug your kids, tell them you love them, and always cherish every moment you have with them.”

Connor Kerner remains in custody at present. It is not known at this time if he has acquired an attorney.

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