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Crime News Murders

Ex-UConn Student Who Killed High School Friend, Kidnapped His Girlfriend, And Murdered Man With Samurai Sword Learns Fate

Peter Manfredonia, the former UConn student who sparked a multi-state manhunt in 2020, was sentenced to two 55-year prison stints for his crime spree that included two murders, sword attacks, a home invasion and a kidnapping.

By Gina Salamone
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A former University Of Connecticut student who sparked a multi-state manhunt in 2020 was sentenced to two 55-year prison stints on back-to-back days this week for his violent crime spree that included two murders, sword attacks, a home invasion and a kidnapping. 

Peter Manfredonia of Newtown was sentenced Thursday to 55 years in prison for killing Theodore DeMers, 62, with a Samurai-style sword on May 22, 2020 and wounding John Franco, as well as for a home invasion in Willington in which he held the homeowner hostage, according to the Tolland State’s Attorney in Connecticut

RELATED: I’ll Blow Your ‘F---ing Brains Out’: Gruesome Details Revealed In UConn Student’s Alleged Murder Spree

This came a day after Manfredonia, 26, was sentenced on Wednesday to 55 years for fatally shooting his high school pal Nicholas John Eisele, 23, and kidnapping Eisele’s girlfriend, Shannon Spies, in Derby on May 24 of that year, the Ansonia/Milford State’s Attorney in Connecticut announced. 

Manfredonia had hit DeMers in the head with the sword, slashed his back multiple times, severed his right hand and cut off his left thumb and index finger during the Willington attack, according to the Associated Press. He then attacked John Franco, 80 at the time, injuring his hands, head and neck. DeMers was declared dead while on the way to a hospital.

Peter Manfredonia

Manfredonia pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 in Rockville Superior Court to murder, assault in the first degree, and home invasion for the May 22, 2020 crimes. DeMers' friends and family were present during Thursday's sentencing and told the court about how his loss impacted them. Franco, as well as Donald Hipsky, the homeowner who was held hostage for more than 24 hours before Manfredonia left the state, also addressed the court. 

“We would like to acknowledge the strength of character of the victims and Mr. DeMers’ family members for taking active roles in the resolution of this case,” Tolland State’s Attorney, Matthew C. Gedansky, said in a statement. 

Capital punishment is no longer an option in Connecticut, but DeMers’ widow, Cindy DeMers, and Franco said in court that they thought Manfredonia should have gotten the death penalty.

“It was like being in a war zone,” Cindy said of seeing her husband after he was attacked, according to the AP. “All I could focus on was reassuring Ted that he was going to be OK and we would put his body back together. We will get through this. We had gotten through so much together up until this point.

“Dying was not an option,” she added. “And even seeing him and his injuries, I couldn’t even imagine that was a possibility. He was still alive when he was taken away, but he never came home. ... My husband’s life was stolen from him viciously. Life as I knew it stolen from me. My world as I knew it came to an end.”

Franco tried to help DeMers after witnessing the fatal attack. “He should be terminated," Franco said of Manfredonia. "I’m a true believer in capital punishment, especially in a situation such as this.”

State’s Attorney Gedansky said Thursday that the killer was in DeMers’ neighborhood because his ex-girlfriend lived in the area, adding that it seemed Manfredonia planned to kill her, but that his plan was thwarted when DeMers approached him, thinking he needed help, according to the AP.

Manfredonia’s lawyer said that his client is bipolar and was suffering from a psychotic episode at the time of the attacks, and that he had planned to take his life in front of his ex. 

Gedansky added that he believed that Manfredonia headed to Eisele’s apartment two days later in search of money, the AP reported. 

Before Manfredonia fled Connecticut, Manfredonia also murdered Eisele and kidnapped his girlfriend. Spies was found by cops, unharmed, at a New Jersey rest stop. 

Manfredonia was eventually arrested in Maryland on May 27, 2020, but not before he left Connecticut with Spies — leading to a search at local, state and federal levels — and held her at gunpoint for more than seven hours before authorities found her, according to court records. 

"This was a horrific crime that shattered so many lives,” Ansonia/Milford State’s Attorney Margaret E. Kelley said in a Wednesday statement. “The pain and anguish suffered by Ms. Spies and the family of Nicholas John Eisele is unfathomable. His family and Ms. Spies worked thoughtfully with the state to achieve this disposition."

For the crimes against Eisele and Spies, Manfredonia pleaded guilty in Milford Superior Court on Feb. 16 of this year to murder, and kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm.

Spies spoke in court during the sentencing Wednesday about her kidnapping and her boyfriend's murder.

“I won’t lie. This plea deal does nothing for me except close the door on this court case,” Spies said at Milford Superior Court, according to the AP. “The damage can never be undone. None of this brings Nick back or makes me feel whole again.

“I will never be the person I was before then,” she added. “I will never feel safe, even in a room surrounded by only people I know. I will always look at the world differently.”

In both cases, Manfredonia had pleaded guilty to murder and other charges. He apologized during both days of his sentencings to his surviving victims and the families of the two men he killed.

"There are no words that can possibly atone for what I have done,” he told Eisele’s family Wednesday. “My actions were nothing short of reprehensible. ... Nick was a good young man to whom I felt no ill will or malice. My actions were senseless. Please know you have my deepest apology.”

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