UNION TOWNSHIP — A man was sentenced to 36 years in prison for attacking three people with a hatchet outside of their shed while he was searching for a "portal to Hell." 

After a month-long trial earlier this year, Morgan Mesz, 30, was convicted for attempted murder for attacking 50-year-old Carolyn Bunnell and 53-year-old Barbara Perrine in 2011 with a hatchet and knife.

On Jan. 7, 2011, at around 6 a.m., the women noticed that the items stored in their shed were strewn across the lawn of their Longview Road home in this Union County township. When the two went to investigate, Mesz emerged from the shed and stabbed both women several times, prosecutors said.

A neighbor, 33-year-old Hernam Agudelo, overheard the attack and retrieved a small souvenir baseball bat from his car to strike Mesz. He was stabbed several times while trying to subdue Mesz and received non-life threatening wounds.

Bunnell told New Jersey 101.5 in February that she and Perrine are grateful for Agudelo.

“Hernan saved our lives,” Bunnell said. “Hernan is a hero and I just hope that he is recognized. Every day that I see him, I go up and thank him for saving our lives.”

In court on Friday, Union County Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas said Mesz destroyed Bunnell and Perrine's ability to lead "normal lives." He said the women could no longer enjoy everyday activities, such as bowling or gardening, due to the long-term effects of the injuries they suffered.

In February, Bunnell told New Jersey 101.5 that as a result of the attack, the two women went to rehab as outpatient to relearn simple tasks and that her processing time is now much slower.

Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim, sitting in Elizabeth, sentenced Mesz to 32 years in prison for the attempted murder charges and four years for aggravated assault. The judge said "it's a miracle these ladies are still alive."

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