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UConn student allegedly used samurai sword to kill man before leading police on manhunt

Peter Manfredonia allegedly told a man he held captive after the murder that he had been sleep deprived and just "snapped," according an unsealed warrant.

A warrant that was unsealed Monday detailed disturbing allegations against the University of Connecticut student who led police on a multi-state manhunt last month.

Peter Manfredonia, 23, is accused of killing a 62-year-old man with a samurai sword and injuring another elderly man in Willington before fleeing. The 62-year-old, identified as Theodore DeMers, was found by his neighbors with a severed right hand, the flesh of his tricep area almost completely severed from his body, a severed left thumb and index finger and multiple lacerations on his head and back.

Peter Manfredonia.
Peter Manfredonia.Connecticut State Police

One witness told police that on the morning of May 22 he saw a man about 6 feet tall in a motorcycle helmet grappling with another person, later identified as DeMers, before attacking DeMers with a thin metal instrument, the warrant said. The man then turned to an 80-year-old man who was not identified by police.

The witness ran inside and told a woman what was happening, and yelled to the attacker to stop and that they were calling the police, according to the warrant. They then ran inside and locked their doors when the man began approaching them. The man then left on a red motorcycle described by the witness, the warrant said, as a “crotch rocket.”

DeMers was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. The 80-year-old man who was also attacked survived and is in stable condition.

Police found an abandoned ed Kawasaki Ninja sport bike registered to Manfredonia nearby, as well as a samurai sword covered in a blood-like substance, the warrant said.

They also found an abandoned white motorcycle helmet with a red and green pattern and dark colored shirt that had Chinese-lettering along with the phrase "world peace" both covered in a blood-like substance as well.

The University of Connecticut Police conducted an information search on Manfredonia and authorities interviewed a female friend of the student, who told authorities Manfredonia had an “obsession with samurai swords” and owned at least two. She also told police that she stopped seeing Manfredonia on May 18 because she discovered he hacked her social media accounts in April.

Another male, not identified by police, corroborated her story, adding that they recently discussed her getting a restraining order against Manfredonia, the warrant said.

Two days after DeMers was killed, a man claimed Manfredonia held him captive at his home. Troopers went to check on the Willington man after Derby Police said his F-150 truck was found damaged and abandoned.

The man, only identified in the warrant as Witness 11, was found tied to a chair in the basement. He told police in a statement that he was asleep in his recliner when he was abruptly awakened by a young man holding a gun to the back of his head at about 5:15 a.m. on May 23, the day after DeMers was killed.

He turned his head to see a young man in his 20s wearing what appeared to be soiled black sweatpants and a black T-shirt.

“He had a blank look on his face,” the captive said in his statement. “There were no emblems or logos on his shirt or pants. I hadn't seen a picture of the murder suspect yet on the news but I was thinking that it was probably him.”

The captive had his hands tied using zip ties he suspected were from his garage and was duct taped to a chair. At the time, Manfredonia identified himself as Rick but the man he held captive later found that to be a lie as he attempted to talk to his kidnapper about his family and life.

“While we were talking the news came on and it showed a picture of the murder suspect from Willington and his name,” the statement said. “When I saw the picture on the news, it looked like the young man who was with me but a younger picture of him. I asked him if his name was really Peter.”

Manfredonia then confirmed his name was Peter, not Rick, the captive’s statement said.

The captive then asked whether Manfredonia wanted to talk about the murder and what took place. Manfredonia allegedly told him that he hadn’t slept for five days and just “snapped.”

“He said he didn't know why he did it and that he was remorseful for it,” the statement said. “I suggested that we call the authorities and try to work something out for him. He was calm and apologetic but couldn't explain why he did that.”

During their conversation, Manfredonia allegedly rejected the idea of turning himself in.

Manfredonia’s captive said a neighbor came by at some point and called to say he was at his door, after the neighbor’s wife had called to check on him. When the neighbor asked to get together in the morning, the captive agreed even though Manfredonia instructed him to say they should meet two days from then.

“We ended the phone call and Peter told me my buddy screwed up the next morning for him,” the statement said.

Manfredonia took food, money, a grill lighter and other items from the house in preparation to leave the next morning, according to the warrant. Manfredonia told the man he would call Connecticut State Police at noon if no one found him by the morning, then left at about 5:15 a.m., according to the man’s statement.

Manfredonia is also accused of killing Nicholas Eisele, 23, in Derby, later that day on May 24.

Authorities eventually found Manfredonia three days later in Maryland after a nearly weeklong manhunt.

He is currently facing multiple charges including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, home invasion, and assault of an elderly person.

A judge ordered Manfredonia be held on a $7 million bond and be placed on a suicide watch. He has not entered a plea and is next expected in court on July 10.

Connecticut Department of Corrections records show Manfredonia is still in custody at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown.