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‘Cold-hearted and brutal’: Man pleads guilty to killing 16-year-old over stolen truck

John Mann IV killed Henry Hernandez, 16, in 2019, prosecutors said. (Mugshot: Suffolk County District Attorney's Office)

John Mann IV killed Henry Hernandez, 16, in 2019, prosecutors said. (Mugshot: Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office)

A New York state young man has pleaded guilty to killing a 16-year-old over a stolen truck, prosecutors said.

John Mann IV, 20, entered his guilty plea last Friday for manslaughter in the first degree in Henry Hernandez’s death, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. He had first been indicted for murder in June 2022.

“The violent end of this young victim’s life and the way his body was disposed of shows the cold-hearted and brutal nature of the defendant,” Local DA Raymond A. Tierney said. “What makes this murder even more sad is that the victim Henry was only 16 years old and had his whole life ahead of him.”

Authorities said that Mann and Hernandez, who was homeless, knew each other and had become acquaintances in March 2019. Soon after, Hernandez went to the defendant’s home on Jay Road in the hamlet of Centereach and stole a truck belonging to Mann’s father, prosecutors wrote.

According to authorities, Mann lured the teenager to a location known as the “Sand pit” on June 2, 2019. He duct-taped the boy and hit him multiple times with a blunt object. Then he put the body in a hole and covered it with debris, prosecutors said. He later put the remains in a plastic tub and transferred it to his next-door neighbor’s property.

All told, Hernandez was dead for the greater part of a year before his skeletal remains were found in the hamlet of Centereach on March 15, 2020.

“The remains were wrapped in two separate plastic bags,” prosecutors wrote. “When the skeletal remains were further examined, it was discovered that the hands and feet were bound with duct tape, and the head and mouth were wrapped in duct tape.”

DNA testing confirmed it was Hernandez, prosecutors said.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 23. Mann is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years of post-release supervision, according to the DA’s office.

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