Man awaiting trial in connection with cult killing dies after contracting covid-19

Published on Friday, 21 January 2022 14:27


NEW BRITAIN – A man who was expected to go to trial in connection with a murder tied to an area cult has died after contracting covid-19.

Rudy Hannon died while being held in custody on charges of murder and murder in the commission of a felony, the office of his attorney, J. Patten Brown, confirmed Friday. 

Brown had been made aware by Hannon’s family last week that he had died while being held on $2 million bond. He was 76 years old and awaiting a jury trial. 

Hannon died after contracting covid-19, according to Brown’s law office.

It’s unclear if and how the death will affect Hannon’s co-defendant, Sorek Minery, 45, who is being held on $2 million bond. Minery had already accepted a plea deal, having pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to commit murder. 

The deal he took did not include a specified sentence. The “open plea” meant he would learn his sentence after the anticipated trial of Hannon.

Hannon had rejected an offer from state prosecutors, electing in June 2019 to go to trial. The start of the trial was pushed back because of the covid-19 pandemic, which halted trials in the state’s judicial system for some time.

Minery, having taken the plea deal, had faced the possibility that he would have had to testify against Hannon. Minery is scheduled to appear in court again next week.

Minery and Hannon were charged in a case involving the 2004 killing and dismembering of Paul Sweetman, a “Chief Apostle” in the 1970s cult started by the late Brother Julius Schacknow.

Hannon was accused of convincing Minery that Sweetman, of Southington, was hurting his wife, Joanne, and needed to be killed.

Joanne Sweetman was believed to be the “Holy Spirit” by cult members.

Minery allegedly beat Sweetman, then he and Hannon stuffed his body into a freezer at Minery’s shop in Plainville, according to the arrest warrant in the case.

Minery then allegedly dismembered Sweetman’s body with a saw and disposed of the body parts in various places in New Britain, court papers said.

One of Sweetman’s legs was found by New Britain police a few months later, but detectives didn’t crack the case until 2016, when a lieutenant in the Criminal Investigations Division noticed that Sweetman had been reported missing around the same time the leg was found.

The investigation led police to find Sweetman’s torso buried under a shed that Minery owned in New Britain.

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain, Southington Herald on Friday, 21 January 2022 14:27. Updated: Friday, 21 January 2022 14:30.