Invisible Children

Son of Tina Graham and Vernon Widner

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

vernon widner and tina graham widner
A 14-year-old boy was starved, caged, and physically abused by his mother, Tina Louise Graham, and her fiance Vernon D. Widner. The boy was withdrawn from school in January 2011 to be homeschooled, although no education actually took place. The boy’s older minor sister participated in the abuse; it is unclear if she or the boy’s other siblings were also abused.

The boy was beaten with a horsewhip and belt, strangled, fed one meal per day, and locked in a dog kennel several times, once for an entire day. His parents forced him to bathe with extremely hot water and bleach; they also threatened to cut off his genitals and threatened him with a loaded gun.

The abuse came to light in March 2011, when the boy’s repeated attempts to run away from home brought him to the police’s attention. He told them that being unable to escape the abuse by going to school had made it too much to bear. Graham and Widner were charged with multiple felonies including criminal confinement, battery, and neglect of a dependent.

Date: March 2011
Lowell, Indiana


Documents: Date:
Indiana Couple Charged with Abusing Teen 12-15-2011
Indiana Teen Kept in Dog Kennel and Threatened with Weapons 12-15-2011
Tina Louise Graham And Vernon Widner, Indiana Couple, Accused Of Locking Son In Dog Cage 12-15-2011
Ind. Couple Accused Of Keeping Teen Boy In Dog Cage, Other Abuse 12-15-2011
Lowell couple accused of abusing teenager, locking him in family’s dog kennel 12-16-2011
Couple Jailed After Horsewhipping, Starving And Caging Teen Over A Two Year Period 12-18-2011
Teenage boy ‘whipped, starved and locked in a dog kennel by his mother and stepfather’Vernon D. Widner, 55, and Tina L. Graham Widner, 40, face multiple charges that could see them jailed for over 30 years for the treatment of the 14 year old boy. 12-19-2011