New Britain police have arrested two men accused of killing the “chief apostle” of a Connecticut religious cult 14 years ago, dismembering his body and burying the remains at a golf course and under a shed at one of the suspect’s houses.
The arrest warrant application for Hannon says all three men were members of a religious church group.
Reports from the Hartford Courant and New Britain Herald. say Sweetman was the “chief apostle” of a cult known as “Brother Julius,” for Julius Schacknow, who ran the cult in central Connecticut and died in 1996. It was active in Connecticut in the 1980s and 1990s.
On Aug. 27, 2004, the grisly find of part of a human leg at Shuttle Meadow Golf Course, on the Berlin-New Britain line, would lead police to part of Sweetman’s body.
The medical examiner ruled the cause of death was a homicide, but years would pass before police knew who it was.
The golf course was around 10 miles from the Sweetmans’ home.
On April 20, 2016, New Britain police learned of an open missing person’s case out of Southington and that Paul Sweetman had disappeared in July 2004. Two days later, New Britain police contacted Sweetman’s son for a DNA sample, which turned out to be a familial match to DNA from the leg.
The arrest warrant for Hannon says Southington police had a report that Sweetman’s wife, Joanne, was the last one to see him and that was on July 24, 2004.
Police also learned that the FBI had previously developed information that Sweetman had been murdered, dismembered and buried in New Britain, according to court records.
FBI files revealed that agents had spoken with Hannon on Feb. 15, 2006 and he had “provided intimate details and knowledge related to the death of Paul Sweetman” and identified Minery as the suspect.
At first, Hannon told investigators that he had “delivered” Sweetman Minery's Plainville construction workshop the night of the slaying, waited outside and thought Minery would “work him over,” but not kill him.
After the beating, Hannon helped Minery place the body in the freezer, court documents said.
Hannon also provided the FBI with the locations where Sweetman’s body could be found.
On Oct. 17, 2016, New Britain detectives and the State Police major crimes division went to Miner’s property on Leo Street in New Britain and found Paul Sweetman’s torso, a gold watch and two gold rings in three layers of garbage bags under a large slab of concrete. One of those rings was inscribed with “Joanne,” the name of Sweetman’s wife.
When police met with Minery three days later, he admitted to knowing about the murder and dismemberment, according to court paperwork. But he had a different account of who was responsible.
He said Hannon, in the months before the murder, had tried to convince him that Paul Sweetman needed to be killed because he was hurting Joanne Sweetman and that God would have wanted them to kill him, according to court records.
He had respected Joanne Sweetman as a “high religious figure” and began believing that Paul Sweetman needed to die, Minery told police.
Months passed until the day he went to his own workshop, saw Sweetman’s car out front and “felt something was wrong,” he told investigators.
When he went inside, he found Hannon standing over Sweetman, who was not moving or breathing, court documents state.
The two men stripped Sweetman down to his underwear, placed him in the freezer and left his car in the park and ride near Westfarms mall, court records state.
Minery also told investigators that Hannon asked him to dispose of the body and he did.
He said he returned to the Plainville shop a few days after the murder, cut up the body, placed the remains in garbage bags and put them back in the freezer.
Then he buried the legs and head in a wooded area near the New Britain reservoir, court records state.
He said he buried the torso and arms under his shed on Leo Street in New Britain and poured a concrete mixture over them, court records state.
After hiding the remains and informing Hannon, Hannon started blackmailing him and threatened to call police unless Minery wired money, the arrest warrant application for Hannon says.
On June 1, 2017, police met with Hannon, who was in prison for a parole violation.
At first, he told police that he brought Sweetman to Minery’s Plainville workshop and remained outside when Sweetman was killed, according to court records.
But the polygraph test police gave Hannon detected deception and Hannon did admit to leading Sweetman into Minery’s workshop and said he watched as Minery beat the man, the arrest warrant application says.
After the beating, the two men placed Sweetman in a freezer, Hannon told police. Then he said he was not sure whether Sweetman was dead when they put him inside.
Hannon and Minery have both been charged with murder and felony murder.
NBC Connecticut reached out to Hannon's attorney, J. Patten Brown, who said he could not comment on his client's statements in the affidavit. He did say that Hannon needs medical attention due to recent surgeries.