The Murder of Molley Lanham and Thomas Grill

April 02, 2022

The last time anyone saw 19 year old Molley Lanham and 18 year old Thomas Grill alive was February 25th. The couple went missing from Indiana after going out for a drive in their black Honda Civic over a week ago, leaving behind no clues to their whereabouts. But an anonymous tip submitted to the Porter County Sheriff’s Office this week has lead officers to arrest a suspect in what is now considered a possible double homicide.

 

The tipsters not only described in great detail what happened on the night the teenagers went missing, but also gave the general location of their bodies and the name of the alleged perpetrator.

Following the tip, officers climbed into patrol cars and made their way out to an isolated field in Hebron, Porter County.  There, just as informed, they discovered a burned out Honda Civic with two bodies inside. Although badly burned, there was clear evidence of a bullet wound to the skull of one of the bodies and fractures to the skull of the other.

 According to the tip, the teens had been murdered elsewhere and their bodies were loaded into their own vehicle before being driven to a rural stretch of field and torched in the hope of destroying evidence.

 

Their alleged killer was identified as seventeen year old Connor Kerner. Kerner, who is a resident of Valparaiso and studies at Indiana high school, allegedly confessed to a couple of friends that he had bludgeoned another teenager to death in his grandparent’s garage during a drug deal gone wrong.

I killed someone and I killed an innocent girl” he apparently told friends. The tipsters, who remain anonymous for their own protection, told investigators that Kerner was clearly upset by what he had done, and also threatened their lives if they were to go to police.They said he planned to move the burned out car and bodies to another state using a U Haul truck and planned to dump it in the Mississippi river and let it sink to the bottom. 

Kerner claimed that Thomas Grill had attempted to rob him, so he began shooting at him with a handgun that he had in his possession. Initially he missed, but shot the victim on the second or third try. According to the suspect, Grill begged him not to kill him. When Kerner ran out of ammunition he reached for a nearby wrench and began striking Grill repeatedly until he was dead. He later told the police that his violent actions that night were a result of panic.

Molley Lanham had been parked outside during the murder. She had agreed to drive Thomas Grill that night because his license was suspended, but said she would wait in the car while he was inside. Once Grill was dead, Connor Kerner approached the Honda Civic and told Molley to follow him into the garage where she found her boyfriend dead on the floor in a pool of his own blood. Kerner threatened her and told her that if she agreed to keep quiet about the murder he would allow her to leave alive- However when she turned to walk out of the garage he fatally shot her in the back of the skull.

He then took her keys, backed the couple’s vehicle into the garage and pulled their bodies inside. He collected some petroleum based lamp fuel and other flammable material and drove the bodies out 2 miles  to a field where he set fire to them in an attempt to cover up his crime. Kerner then returned back to his grandparents’ house on foot. The homeowners, Gerald Dye and Christy Dye, were elsewhere on the night of the crime. When interviewed about the state of their home on the day they returned they claimed that there was no sign of any type of disturbance at the residence, but later confessed that the statement they originally gave was not entirely truthful. The suspect’s grandfather, Gerald, later admitted that he had realized his gun had been tampered with and that there was missing ammunition. He claimed that he retrieved the firearm from Kernel who lied when asked about why he took it and told Dye that he had been shooting inanimate objects for target practice and had accidentally expended a live round in the garage. Mr. Dye reportedly found several other bullet holes and a bad attempt to conceal some of them. He also found the murder weapon, a wrench, which he noticed had strands of hair and a dark stain on it.  

Police obtained warrants to search Kconnerner’s home on Kinsale Avenue, Valparaiso, as well as the home of his grandparents in Hebron, and reported finding substantial evidence of a crime.

Kerner has been arrested and charged as an adult with two counts of murder.

Although autopsies have not yet been completed and DNA not yet processed, all evidence points to the bodies being that of Molley Lanham and Thomas Grill.

 

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