While towns like Southington and Plainville tend to be quieter than their city neighbors, these communities in 2018 had their fair share of big stories.
Perhaps the most notable crime story of the year in this area came when police arrested two men in a 14-year-old cult-related cold case in Southington. Sorek Minery, 42, of Burlington, and Rudy Hannon, 72, of Nevada, were accused of killing Southington resident Paul Sweetman in 2004 as part of their affiliation with a cult known by followers as “The Work” run by “Brother Julius” Schacknow.
According to investigators, Hannon convinced Minery over several months that Sweetman was hurting his wife, Joanne, believed to be the “Holy Spirit” by cult members. Police allege Hannon convinced him that the Southington man needed to be killed.
Sweetman was the “Chief Apostle” for Schacknow, who had hundreds of followers during the cult’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Schacknow died in 1996. New Britain police found a leg at a golf course in their city and, along with other investigators, made two arrests in Sweetman’s death 14 years later.
Plainville experienced a tragedy in July when a 67-year-old man died in a place crash. On July 12, at about 10:30 a.m., Burlington resident Donald Eckberg crashed a twin engine Rutan Defiant into the town’s landfill, passing over a nearby condo complex that sits off of Julie Road, just southwest of Robertson Airport.
The first officer on scene had to hop a fence and run to the top of a hill, where the wreckage sat, and call out for any survivors of the crash. The officer tried performing life-saving techniques on Eckberg, but he had died on impact.
Southington also saw a tragedy in July when a woman died in a house fire. On May 19, firefighters responded to Miron’s home shortly before 10 p.m. at 630 Prospect St., to find that she was the only person in the burning house. She was found in the kitchen and taken to an area hospital. She was pronounced dead the next day.
The blaze took firefighters hours to extinguish. Miron, 78, died of complications from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. Her death was accidental. Miron’s pet dog also died in the fire.
Miron’s death was not the only tragedy that made news in 2018. Plainville police in March charged a man with supplying drugs to a woman who had died in late 2017 of an overdose.
Scott Ludwin, 39, allegedly bought an eight-ball of crack cocaine and what he may have believed were two bundles of heroin, which turned out to be fentanyl, from a drug dealer in Hartford on Nov. 3, according to the warrant for his arrest. Police allege he shared the drugs with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, 25-year-old Monique Poulin, who died of an overdose sometime between Nov. 4 and Nov. 8.
In the days before her death, police found that Poulin and Ludwin had been messaging each other frequently about illegal drug use. Ludwin told police he left drugs at Poulin’s home before she overdosed, telling her to “be careful,” according to court documents.
In November, Southington police arrested a man who state prosecutors believe was assembling and selling guns that are virtually untraceable, known as “ghost guns.” Police arrested Hao Quac Lam, 24, of 35 Darling St., Apt. Q, on Nov. 20 after searching his apartment and a local storage unit. Authorities reported finding two assault rifles, a handgun without a permit and 29 high capacity magazines.
Upon discovering the guns and numerous high capacity magazines, state prosecutors said they believe Lam is bringing in parts of guns from out of state and using them to assemble assault rifles with no serial numbers - also known as ghost guns - in his apartment and selling them over the Internet. His case is still pending.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.