The Petit Family Murders

On July 23, 2007 the Cheshire Connecticut police department received a phone call from a bank manager.   One of their patrons, Jennifer Petit had entered into the bank and made a large withdraw.  She had been able to tell the teller, that the man with her, later identified as Steven Hayes, was holding her and her family hostage.  According to the teller Jennifer seemed to believe that no real harm would come as long as the man received the money but obviously asked for help.  The bank manager was speaking to authorities as the two left the bank.  

Authorities did not automatically go to the Petit home and let the perpetrator(s) know they were there or even it seems do much more than "assess" the situation and create a vehicle perimeter in the neighborhood. This went on for some time it appears because while they were doing that, Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were inside the Petit home committing horrendous acts.  

On July 22, 2007, the day before, Jennifer and her eleven year old daughter, Michaela went to the grocery store.  Joshua Komisarjevsky saw them and followed them home. He was pretty sure judging by the home and the occupants that this home would contain many valuables.  At some point it seems he reached out to Steven Hayes and the two planned a robbery.  Later both would claim that they did not intend to harm or kill anyone but that seems difficult to believe.  When they entered the home through the porch they immediately found William Petit sleeping on the couch there.  Although they had brought guns with them they had apparently found a baseball bat in the yard. They used the bat to beat William Petit and then force him into the basement where they led him by gunpoint and tied him up.  The two men then made their way upstairs where in three separate rooms they would find forty-eight year old Jennifer, seventeen year old Hayley and eleven year old Michaela.  Each of the females were bound and locked in their rooms while the men searched the home.  

After attempting to pilfer the home the two men were not cray about what they were finding as far as valuables.  At this point it seems that if the original plan as they said was not to harm anyone then the plan changed.  At some point Hayes found two gas cans in the home and left to fill them with gasoline.  He was seen on a surveillance video.  As morning dawned Hayes took Jennifer to the bank while Komisarjevsky stayed at the home. It is unclear just what was started when at the home but it seems that while Hayes was gone with Jennifer, Komisarjevsky was starting with the rest of the plan.  It appears that it was then that Komisarjevsky began sexually assaulting Michaela.  He would video tape this on his cell phone.  When Hayes arrived back with Jennifer she was also sexually assaulted.  It was unclear whether Hayley had also been assaulted but if she was not it sounds likely that once Hayes returned and the two were finished with Jennifer they set their plan in motion.  

While the two men were too worried about valuables, money and assaulting the females in the Petit family it seems they had forgotten about William down in the basement.  He had been down there for several hours with severe injuries of his own.  He was finally able to escape the home and get to a neighbors house who would claim that due to his injuries they barely recognized him.  He would say that the last thing he heard from upstairs in the house was one of the men telling the girls not to worry because it would all be over soon.

Hayes and/or Komisarjevsky strangled Jennifer and then doused her with gasoline.  The two teenage girls were tied to their beds, pillowcases put over their heads and they too were doused with gasoline.  The two men started the fire and took off in the Petit's car. They were captured just a few minutes and one block away by authorities.  However, the girls were not saved.  Michaela and Hayley would die from smoke inhalation and Jennifer from the fire.

It did not take either Hayes or Komisarjevsky to start talking once they were apprehended.  One thing was clear, this had been planned and carried out but each man implicated the other as being the mastermind.  At one point one of them named William as an accomplice.  I will be fair here in saying that looking at the surface it did look a bit fishy.  He was left downstairs and apparently never checked on and allowed to escape but even then only seemed to do so just before the two men set the home on fire with his wife and daughters inside.  But there was absolutely nothing to be found to implicate him in this crime what so ever.  

Hayes would be the first to go to trial.  On October 5, 2010 he would be found guilty of three counts of murder and thirteen other charges including home invasion, kidnapping, and assault.  He would be given six death sentences plus 106 years in prison. Komisarjevsky would be convicted on October 13, 2011 of seventeen counts relating to the crime.  He too would be given six death sentences plus 140 years.  In August of 2015 the state of Connecticut would abolish the death penalty, much to William Petit's dismay, and the two men were given life sentences.  In 2016 both men were sent to different prisons in Pennsylvania to serve their sentences.  From my understanding the prison in Pennsylvania is much like the one in Tennessee I blogged about not long ago in which they house prisoners from different states and is privately ran.  

For his part William Petit would never again practice endocrinology again.  He would devote his life to the Scholarship and Memorial Funds he set up in the names of his wife and daughters. It was at one of the Petit Family Foundation events that he would meet volunteer Christine Paluf.  She and William would marry in August of 2012.  On November 23, 2013 the couple would have a child, a son they named William Jr. 


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