Daughter of man found dead in Lancaster County ditch appears in court

Three other suspects in the Omaha man’s death were formally charged on Tuesday
Three suspects facing charges in an Omaha man's murder appeared before a judge Tuesday.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 11:54 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 12:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The daughter of a man found dead in a Lancaster County ditch last week appeared in court on Wednesday morning — a day after the three others charged in his death.

Christina Thornley, 37, of Omaha, was arrested last week along with her husband, Justin, 39; his cousin, Jacob, 37; and their friend, Braden Bongers, 26, to face charges in the homicide of her father, 68-year-old Gary T. Lew.

The three men appeared in court on Tuesday.

From left: Braden Bongers, Christina Thornley, Jacob Thornley, and Justin Thornley
From left: Braden Bongers, Christina Thornley, Jacob Thornley, and Justin Thornley(Omaha Police Department)

Jacob and Justin Thornley were both formally charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and concealing a body. They received no bond. Bongers was charged with assault. His bond was set at $500,000.

Christina Thornley was formally charged Wednesday with accessory to a felony and tampering with physical evidence. Her bond was also set at $500,000. Her court appearance had been delayed because she was in the hospital, though no explanation about her condition was given.

All four suspects are due back in court May 22.

Lew, of Omaha, was found dead in a ditch northeast of Crete, just south of Highway 33 and southwest 128th Street in rural Lancaster County, on Tuesday, April 11.

Court documents state that the Omaha Police Department’s Homicide Unit was called to assist the Lancaster County Sheriff on Thursday at a residence located in a neighborhood southeast of 156th Street and West Dodge Road.

According to the records, Bongers and Jacob and Justin Thornley assaulted Lew at the home, and Christina Thornley found Lew dead while with Jacob and Justin. The three Thornleys then transported the body to a remote area of Lancaster County and disposed of his body, court documents state.

The fourth of four suspects in an Omaha man's homicide made a court appearance today.

Managing Editor Kevin Westhues contributed to this report.