Nebraska Moments

By Donald R. Hickey; Susan A. Wunder et al. | Go to book overview

38. The Murder of Brandon Teena

It was cold and dreary during the early morning hours of December 31, 1993, in western Richardson County just outside the small town of Humboldt. A car silently pulled up to a rented farm house, and two men—John Lotter and Tom Nissen, one twenty-two and the other just twenty-one, and both already having served time in prison—entered the house. Inside were four residents. There was the renter, Lisa Lambert, a young woman who worked in the Colonial Acres Nursing Home and who the townsfolk thought to be a kind, friendly soul and responsible mother. There was her baby, nine-month-old Tanner. When Phillip DeVine, a young African American who had come from Dennison, Iowa, to spend the holidays with a girlfriend from Falls City, Leslie Tisdel, had a falling out and needed a place to stay before catching a bus back to Dennison, Lisa volunteered her living room couch. And there was a young soul who needed shelter. This was Brandon Teena, with a name that reversed the birth name JoAnn Brandon had given her baby daughter, who had been raped five days earlier and was awaiting a ride back home to Lincoln. Then the shots and the screams began.

After the sun came up, Anna Mae Lambert, who lived in Pawnee City, a little over fifteen miles southwest of Humboldt, and who worried about a morning call from the nursing home reporting that her daughter had not come to work, decided to visit her daughter’s house to check on her and her grandson. Arriving around ten o’clock in the morning, she heard Tanner crying as she approached the slightly askew front door. Anna opened the door cautiously and discovered a chilling scene. There sitting next to the sofa on the living room floor was Phillip DeVine, shot twice and dead. In the bedroom she found her daughter Lisa face up on a waterbed, shot three times and dead. At the foot of the

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