BEMIDJI -- One of the two men who kidnapped and tortured a man -- and also severely wounded a woman he was with -- at an area mobile home park in July was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Tuesday in Beltrami County.
Anthony James Wittner, 23, was sentenced to serve a total of 81 months, with four and a half years in custody and 27 months on conditional release, for one count of kidnapping to commit great bodily harm/terrorize and two counts of second-degree assault.
Wittner’s co-defendant, Edward Jenkins-Whitefeather Jr., 19, received a similar sentence for the same charges in November.
“The two of you participated in equally horrible ways,” Judge Paul Benshoof said at the sentencing on Tuesday.
According to the criminal complaint, officers found one of the two victims, identified as J.H., running with his hands zip-tied behind his back with lacerations “all over his body” on July 19. The victim said he and a female friend, “M.S.,” met another woman, initially identified as “Randi,” in the parking lot of the movie theater. The woman then led the victims to a mobile home at the Grass Lake Mobile Home Park.
Jenkins-Whitefeather was at the mobile home when the victims arrived. J.H. told the authorities he and Jenkins-Whitefeather were “practically brothers.” Wittner was also at the home, but the victim said he didn’t know him.
A fight broke out after Jenkins-Whitefeather and Wittner began accusing J.H. of “falsely representing himself as a Gangster Disciple gang member,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said the defendants used “what appeared to be a metal sword to strike” M.S. across her hands. She also received a laceration on her abdomen. Wittner allegedly held J.H. at gunpoint while Jenkins-Whitefeather came at him with the sword, as well as a kitchen knife, and "stabbed and cut" him. The fight ended when the defendants hog-tied J.H. with zip ties.
During a later search of the home, authorities found a sword blade on the porch and a kitchen knife under the living room couch cushion, as well as a replica black semi-automatic handgun. They also found “dried blood on the floor, walls and multiple items throughout the home.”
At some later time while he was still being held, Jenkins-Whitefeather and Wittner cut the ties from J.H.’s feet, laid him on his back, put a cloth over his face, and poured water over his head for 20 to 30 minutes. Known as “waterboarding,” the method is used as a torture technique to simulate the sensation of drowning.
J.H. said Jenkins-Whitefeather and Wittner accused him of various offenses, “such as poisoning an elder, sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female, and falsely representing himself as a gang member,” according to the complaint.
They then allegedly put J.H. into a closet, and “Randi” took M.S. to get medical help. The authorities later located her at the Sanford Bemidji emergency room. Like J.H., she had lacerations on her body, including her hands. Her injuries were severe enough that she was eventually taken to a hospital in Fargo.
J.H. escaped the home once Jenkins-Whitefeather left and Wittner passed out. When the authorities initially found him a little after 1 p.m., J.H. said he had been held since 5 a.m. They found M.S. at the emergency room at roughly 11 a.m.
Officials arrested Wittner when they were searching the home. Wittner claimed Jenkins-Whitefeather paid $2,000 and an AK-47 for his help. The criminal complaint said Wittner’s statement was consistent with the story J.H. told.
Authorities later arrested Jenkins-Whitefeather at the home of the woman identified as "Randi." Although she was allegedly at the home during the incident, charges were not filed against her at the time.
Wittner also told the authorities that the “ultimate plan” was to take J.H. to Red Lake Nation and kill him, according to the complaint.