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UPDATE: Teen's DNA found on handgun connected to double murder

UPDATE: Teen's DNA found on handgun connected to double murder

From the 5 important stories you need to know from the weekend: Baby found 'gasping for air' was beaten to death, cops say series

Another teen now faces charges in the 2019 slayings of Thomas Grill Jr. and Molley Lanham, according to charging documents provided by the Porter County Sheriff's Office on Saturday. 

John Silva II, 19, of Hamlet, faces two counts of felony murder, documents state.

Initially, Silva told investigators he was not present when Grill and Lanham were murdered. 

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However, Silva later said on Feb. 25, 2019, he left Valparaiso High School with Connor Kerner, then 17, in Kerner's Jeep Grand Cherokee and traveled to Kerner's grandparent's Hebron home, records show. Silva said he turned location services off on his cell phone. 

Before entering the home, Silva said he saw Kerner retrieve a black handgun from the Jeep's glove compartment. When they entered the home, Silva went to the basement. 

Shortly after, Silva said he heard Kerner meeting with two people — later identified as Grill and Lanham — when six shots rang out, records show. 

Kerner called for Silva, allegedly saying, "John, John." 

When Silva entered the garage, he saw Lanham laying face down on the ground, motionless, and Grill laying face down near the garage door alive and still making noise. 

Kerner hit Grill with a wrench and loaded both bodies in a Honda Civic, Silva said. 

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Silva wiped up blood with microfiber towels that Kerner gave him. The handgun and bloody towels were later put in a white trash bag that was taken to Kerner's Jeep, where Silva remained until Kerner joined him, records indicate. 

Before Kerner dropped him off, Silva said he saw Kerner with a CZ9 handgun, records show. Silva told investigators he hadn't seen the gun before and hadn't touched it. 

The Indiana State Police lab later found Silva's DNA on the CZ9's grip, trigger and slide. The weapon was later determined to belong to Kerner's grandfather, records show. 

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Kerner, who is now 19, has pleaded not guilty to the two counts of murder and felony counts of intimidation and arson.

The teen reportedly told an informant he shot Grill after Grill tried to rob him during a drug deal.

"Grill fell to the ground and was begging for his life," according to police records. "Kerner advised that he panicked due to being out of bullets in the gun. Kerner then beat him (Grill) with a pipe wrench until he died."

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Kerner then showed Grill's body to Lanham, court records allege. Kerner warned Lanham not to say anything, and as she turned to leave, Kerner shot her in the head, police said.

Kerner is alleged to have loaded the bodies of Grill Jr., of Cedar Lake, and Lanham, of St. John, in the trunk of a Honda Civic following their slayings, along with various containers of flammable liquids and setting the vehicle on fire, authorities said.

Times staff writer Kale Wilk contributed to this report. 

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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South Lake County Reporter

Mary Freda is the South Lake County reporter at The Times. She is a proud Ball State graduate, where she studied news journalism and Spanish. You can reach Mary at or 219-853-2563.

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