Two religious cult members charged in the 2004 killing of a Southington cult leader allegedly dismembered the man before burying his remains in separate locations in New Britain.
Rudy Hannon, 72, and Sorek Minery, 42, of 225 Covey Road, Burlington, were charged this week with murder and felony murder in the July 2004 killing of Southington resident Paul Sweetman.
Sweetman was described as “the chief apostle” in the religious cult “The Work” led by Brother Julius and based in Meriden.
Sweetman was reported missing by his wife on July 24, 2004, according to Hannon’s arrest warrant. On Aug. 27, 2004 New Britain police responded to the Shuttle Meadow Country Club for a report of human remains found. Part of a leg was recovered and appeared to have been cut with a sharp blade.
On April 20, 2016 New Britain police linked the 2004 missing person report to the remains found at the golf course, noting that Sweetman lived about 10 miles away from where the leg was found. Local police learned that the FBI had previously developed information that Sweetman was murdered and dismembered with a saw in New Britain, the warrant said. Police took a DNA sample from Sweetman’s son and confirmed a parental match with the DNA from the leg.
Police also learned that in 2006 Hannon was interviewed by FBI agents and shared intimate knowledge of the killing, and told agents he suspected Minery.
Police interviewed Minery on Oct. 20, 2016. He told officers that he, Sweetman and Hannon were all members of the same religious organization. In the months leading up to the murder, Hannon was trying to convince Minery that Sweetman “needed to be killed because he was hurting his wife, Joanne Sweetman, and that God would have wanted them to kill Sweetman,” the warrant said.
Minery said at the time of the incident he looked up to Joanne Sweetman as a high religious figure within their group, the warrant said.
Hannon and Minery gave police slightly different accounts of how Sweetman was killed. Hannon initially said he drove Sweetman to Minery’s construction workshop, Blue Ridge Construction, 64 Neal Court, Plainville, where Minery assaulted Sweetman, the warrant said.
Minery told police he arrived at the shop and saw Sweetman’s vehicle outside, the warrant said. Minery told police he walked inside and saw Hannon standing over Sweetman’s body and believed Sweetman was dead.
The men both said they placed Sweetman’s body in a freezer. Minery admitted using an electric saw to dismember Sweetman, the warrant said. Minery said he brought the legs and head of the body to a wooded area near the New Britain reservoir and buried them about a foot deep.
Minery said he took the torso and arms to his home at 21 Leo St. in New Britain and buried them in a hole under a shed, then poured concrete on top of the remains to seal the hole, the warrant said.
Police went to the home, and, with the current owners’ consent, dug underneath the shed and found the torso and arms under a concrete slab, the warrant said. Police noted the DNA from the torso matched Sweetman. Police also noted personal jewelry found with the torso further confirmed Sweetman’s identity.
Hannon told Minery that he drove Sweetman’s car to a park and ride in New Britain. Police confirmed finding the car on Hartford Road in New Britain on July 25, 2004. Minery told police that Hannon blackmailed him for money following the homicide, the warrant said.
Hannon was incarcerated at Northern Nevada Correction Center before he was extradited to Connecticut on Tuesday. Minery was taken into custody and arraigned in Bristol Superior Court on Wednesday.
New Britain police detectives were assisted by state police, the FBI, the state’s attorney’s office, the state forensic science lab and Southington police during the investigation.
Hannon and Minery were each held on $2 million bond. Hannon is due back in court on Aug. 27 and Minery is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court on Aug. 7. Hannon’s attorney J. Patten Brown said Hannon is recovering from recent medical treatments and is in “pretty good spirits.” Brown said Hannon previously served a federal sentence, but he did not have information on that case.
Julius Schacknow, also known as Brother Julius, leader of The Work died on July 28, 1996, according to an obituary on The Hartford Courant website. Brother Julius was previously married to Joanne Sweetman, and they had three children, the obituary stated. Joanne Sweetman was known as “the holy spirit” and Paul Sweetman was known as “the chief apostle,” the obituary said.
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