Early on the morning of May 29, 1996, April Dawn Pennington left her Montville home. The 15-year-old girl was carrying a duffel bag but left her purse and most of her belongings behind. That was the last time her family saw her.
Leniart was arrested in 2008. He was incarcerated at the time for raping and choking a 13-year-old girl when he allegedly told his prison cellmate that he kidnapped, raped and killed Pennington.
On that May night 13 years ago, Pennington had sneaked out her bedroom to meet Patrick “PJ” Allain and Leniart that night, the Norwich Bulletin reports. They drove to a secluded are in Ledyard, drank and smoke marijuana, Allain told police, according to the newspaper. That is reportedly when Leniart’s behavior turned dark.
“He said he needed a body. He said he was in a cult and wanted a body for the altar,” Allain testified, according to the Bulletin. “I know if I didn’t cooperate he was going to hurt me and hurt April.”
At some point, Leniart dropped Allain off at his home and later admitted to strangling Pennington and disposing of her body in a lobster trap, the Bulletin reports.
Pennington’s body was never found.
Leniart will be sentenced on April 27 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Everybody in this family has gone through hell,” Hazel Pennington told the Bulletin. “We may never get the whole story — the real story.”