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The quiet Connecticut town of Cheshire has been stunned by a brutal home invasion that left a home in flames, a wife and her two daughters dead and a bloody and battered father in the hospital. Dr. William A. Petit Jr. survived the day-long attack, but his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and their two daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, did not.

Authorities said two men broke into the Petit home early Monday morning, held the family hostage for hours, took one of the female hostages to the bank to withdraw money, set the house on fire to cover their tracks, and literally ran into the police as they tried to escape in the family's car.

Bank employees became suspicious when Jennifer Hawke-Petit showed up at the Bank of American branch with one of the kidnappers to make a withdrawal and notified police. As the police approached the home, iT was in flames and two men rammed several police cars before being captured at gunpoint.

Career Criminals Arrested

Arrested were two recent parolees with criminal records, Joshua Komisarjevsky (pictured), 26, and Steven Hayes, 44. Police said both previously lived in the same halfway house after being paroled from prison.

Komisarjevsky is charged with one count of first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated sexual assault, first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson in the first-degree, first-degree robbery and risk of injury to a minor, plus two counts of first-degree larceny and four counts of first-degree kidnapping.

Hayes is charged with one count of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson in the first-degree, first-degree robbery and risk of injury to a minor, plus two counts of first-degree larceny and four counts of first-degree kidnapping.

A Brutal Crime Scene

According to The Hartford Courant, these events took place inside the home:

  • Dr. Petit confronted the burglars and was beaten with a baseball bat and tied up in the basement of the home.

  • Around 9:20 a.m. Hawke-Petit was taken to the bank and was able to alert a teller about the hostage situation because the suspect who went with her waited outside.

  • Hawke-Petit withdrew $15,000 from the bank. Police believe that she may have been killed on the first floor of the home as soon as she returned from the bank.

  • Both daughters were tied to their beds in their upstairs bedrooms. At least one of them was raped.

  • The burglars poured gasoline in the second floor bedrooms of the two girls and lit the rooms on fire.

  • The charred body of the oldest daughter Hayley was found at the top of the main stairs.

  • The youngest daughter Michaela was found tied to her bed. Her body was too badly burned to determine how she died, police said.

Autopsies are being performed by the state medical examiner and authorities expect more charges to be filled.

See Also:
Paroled Burglars Arraigned In Home Invasion
Two Arrested In Alleged Home Invasion-Arson

Discuss The Petit Case

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July 25, 2007 at 9:06 am
(1) Patsy says:

Evidently the correctional system should re-think the way they determine who gets parole, whom gets in a half-way house, and whom they let out on the streets among the unsuspecting population. I donít think you can make this decision by looking at prospected parolee. If you go by his record, then these two men should have been in JAIL. It is my understanding that if you are on parole; you are not supposed to associate with another parolee. When you put criminals together in a half-way house, you are just asking for trouble and you got it. I think Dr. Petit should sue everyone involved with the release of these two men. Obviously, these two men whom were career criminals werenít non-violent. Did the correctional system think they were going to turn over a new leaf and magically become good, upstanding, and Christian men just because they were in a half-way house? This is just like putting a restraining order against a person; it only works if that person is willing to be restrained. If a person wanted to be help, they wouldnít commit crimes. Theses two men apparently donít want to be helped. Obviously, these two men should have been locked up and the key thrown away (since they already had a long criminal record) and the Petits would still be alive. I say these two men should die and in the say way they killed the Petitsí and in the same house. I have a lot words in me, but it would just rehashing what I have already said so I will just say that I am mad as hell this has happen. This isnít the first time this has happen, because we as Americans try to help. We need to tougher on career criminals and not be so quick to turn them loose (violent and non-violent alike). I think if you will commit one crime you will commit another. I think if you commit a crime you should be locked up; if that crime is armed robbery, murder, or rape you should be put to death, if they can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. The families of the two men should know or suspect that these two men what these they were capable of but donít want to get their love ones in trouble with the law, so they keep quiet. They are as guilty of this crime as if they committed the crime themselves. If you love someone and that someone is always in trouble with the law, the family has a duty to that person and to society to see that person gets help and not just sit idly by and let others get hurt. A man at Komisarjevsky’s home said ďWe cannot understand what would have made something like this happen.Ē He was a career criminal and sooner or later career criminals graduate from petty crimes to major crimes. When is America going to do something about it? How many more lives will have to taken before we are tougher on career criminals? These two men were seen coming out of the Petitsí house, and driving the Petitsí car; as far as I am concern this should be enough to have them condemn to death. My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of this family. Hopefully, Dr. Petit will start or become involved with stopping people such as these two men from being released into society.

July 25, 2007 at 2:41 pm
(2) Mario says:

The comment left by the previous person ‘Patsy’ “hit the nail right on the head”. These two career criminals should not have been given the opportunity to commit more crimes by being freed.
It’s terrible what happened to that family.
I can only hope that these two animals cause thats what they are; are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law(preferably the death penalty). So that an example is made for others who are so cruel and heartless that they would even considered such horrible acts.

July 25, 2007 at 3:25 pm
(3) Lisa says:

Personally these two people should be tried and when they are found guilty (as it seems there is insurmountable evidence against them) should be promptly killed by a firing squad or a lethal injection or whatever other means are considered “non cruel or unusual”. I’m all for our so called justice system, but these guys were given a second chance while out on payroll and have proven that they hold no value as human beings. As long as they’re given a fair trial and found guilty by a jury of their peers why not kill them. I don’t want my tax dollars to go to prisons that house them. I’m so sick of our overly political judicial system.

We have capital punishment for a reason. Let’s use it to get rid of criminals such as these men. Then they will have no chance to hurt others or for payroll.

July 25, 2007 at 6:35 pm
(4) Paul says:

No one can predict who will commit a crime or not. These men had served their time, and were justly paroled. What, should they have been locked up permanently? The only way to know that is through the perfect vision of hind sight.

The doctor confronted these men with a baseball bat (original version of this story). He should have been better prepared. Every responsible adult ought to possess a proper means of self defense, just in the off chance it becomes necessary to defend themselves, their families, or their communities. Granted, this could still have ended just as badly, but his odds would have been much better had he been able to detain these men until the police arrived.

July 25, 2007 at 10:27 pm
(5) dave says:

I am a corrrection officer for the state of Ct and supervised Mr Komisarjevsky for about 6 months. He fooled the parole board, he fooled everyone involved by doing his programs, being polite, being hard working. He was extremely intelligent and worked the system to his advantage for early release. And now three people are dead, one critically injured. I sincerely hope he fries for his crimes but it almost never happens in CT. Its very hard for the parole board to weed these individuals out when they do not cause any problems inside the prison system, are industrious and pleasant to be around. Being somewhat jaded toward the incarcerated, even I was very suprised to learn that this kid was capable of such a horrific act.

July 26, 2007 at 10:02 am
(6) Patsy says:

You are right Paul, no one can predict who will commit a crime or not. These men had served their time, and were justly paroled. What, should they have been locked up permanently? These men have a long history of arrest. Where I come from if you commit a felony 3 times you become a life time ward of the State with no parole. You are right again, the only way to know that is through the perfect vision of hind sight; but next time the parolees may come to your house and then we will see what you have to say when you family is butchered because they were justly paroled and with long history of arrest. The doctor should not have to defend himself or his family in his own home, but in this day and time with so many liberals giving everybody a chance, second chance and even third chances to put back on the street among a society that canít tell if someone is dangerous or not, I, myself would love to wear a gun around my waist at all times and be able to use too. But the good people (and even the police) that defend their homes and society usually get in trouble with the law for using unnecessary force. Catch 22. The law want save us and the law want let us save ourselves either. Also from what I read it said the Dr. Petit was beaten with a baseball bat not that he confronted the parolees with a baseball bat. Dr. Petit would not have had to detain the criminals if they were kept in jail where they belong instead of paroled because of overcrowded jails. Even after this horrible tragedy the law still hasnít charged them with murder and they probably will be on the streets again in a few years if not months.

July 26, 2007 at 1:03 pm
(7) Teresa Menendez says:

I don’t undertand why the police was not at the house already when the wife returned from the bank if she had alerted them at the bank of the situation.

July 26, 2007 at 2:12 pm
(8) Paul says:

Patsy, what if this had been their first offense? Wouldn’t we all agree this would never have happened had they been locked away in prison before they had ever committed any crime at all?

Regardless of how loose or stringent gun control laws are in your state, you are still ultimately responsible for your own protection. Abdicating your responsibility gains you nothing–even if you must violate the law to protect yourself.

There are plenty of parolees who successfully reintegrate into society without ever committing another offense. It just doesn’t make sense that we keep everyone in prison because recidivism rates are not as low (zero) as we might hope.

The United States already incarcerates a larger fraction of its population than any other industrial nation. More and bigger prisons are not necessarily the answer. Ever hear that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

Now, I agree these two men should be quickly and painlessly executed. They have demonstrated a clear unsuitability for life in our society. Connecticut has the death penalty, and I sincerely hope it is promptly rewarded in this case. However, a life sentence is not the answer. Twenty years ought to be the maximum sentence, and we have people serving longer sentences for non violent victimless crimes. There is a terrible disproportion in our justice system that lengthier sentences certainly does not address.

Consider: You commit a crime when you are 20. You serve a 20 year sentence. You commit another crime promptly upon release. Why not get a second chance, when you are 40? I wasn’t the same person at 40 I was at 20. So the 40 year old commits yet another crime. He gets another 20 year sentence. If he commits a third crime at 60, why sentence him to life? Let him out again at 80. Do you understand what I mean here?

Now, if he is in prison for some capital offense, such as killing for fun or profit, as in this case–then execute him. But don’t punish everyone for the crimes of these two men. Let us be governed by well reasoned law, not emotional impulse.

July 26, 2007 at 3:26 pm
(9) Patsy says:

Now Paul, obviously you donít believe what the Bible says Eye for an Eye and Tooth for a Tooth. I was not talking about everyone; I am talking specifically about these two thugs with already long criminal history as well as drug use history (and any other thug with a similar history). This was not their first offense nor their second; this is what is so horrible. I donít think a life time sentence is the answer either nor killing them painlessly. I say burn them in the same house that the Petits were killed. I believe once you are on the path of self destruction, only a fraction of these people can turn their live around but the ones that commit crime after crime well whatever America is doing is not working. Now some people are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time or get with a wrong crowd and they get in trouble then they turn their life around by making better choices. As far as they had a bad home life, sexually molested, adopted, etc., is just a crock of junk; just an excuse to buy time to commit more crimes eventually graduating to the ultimate crime of MURDER. As far as not being the same at 20, at 40, or at 60, well, I have the morals and same beliefs when I was 20 as I do at 58. I think anyone that takes a human life for gain should give up his or her life in the same manner. If this is too harsh for any American, I am sorry. I have always felt this way no matter who the person is, who is daddy is, or how much money they have in the bank. What these two thugs did, they deserve the death penalty ASAP. This is not emotions talking and as far as being governed by well reasoned law Ė it is a joke designed to help the criminals and not the good God-fearing folks like the Petits, if it were not so, the Petits would be alive now and these two thugs would be behind bars or dead. So you trust the law if you want too. I abide by the law to keep the law away from me but I donít have to trust it. One day you will find out the law is corrupt. This is fact not emotion. This all I am going to say about this. Violent and some non-violent people are not to be trusted out in society; keep them in jail or put them to death doesnít matter to me.

July 28, 2007 at 11:12 am
(10) Mica says:

I was rather taken back by the apparent calls by some members of the media for a three strikes law.

The problem with three strikes laws, as practiced in California, is multiple:

1. They’re usually advocated when a single horrific crime is committed by a career criminal. In California’s case, it was Richard Allen Davis, who kidnapped and murdered Polly Klaas. But they end up applying to tens of thousands of others who don’t commit similarly heinous crimes.

2. In California’s cases, the crimes in which strikes for the 2nd and 3rd strikes do not have to be violent. In other words, a non violent drug offender can get a 2nd strike and do double the time. In this state, we have 26,000 2nd strike inmates. Some states don’t even have that many inmates.

3. This state has 7,000 third strikers. Some of these guys got their 3rd strike (25 to life) for misdemeanors which local DAs can roll into felonies if they choose. That’s just wrong to sentence a low level burglary offense to 25 to life.

3. Three strikes laws over the long term end up clogging a state’s prison system with very old men and women doing time for crimes committed in their youth or relative youth. Old and very old inmates usually cost states lots of money for health care.

July 31, 2007 at 12:06 am
(11) JOHN says:

We cannot, of course, and we should not, I suppose, but the gut reaction is, after a fair and full trial, they should be tied to stakes in the main square and their bodies burned to ashes. No strangulation. No bullet. No suffociation by smoke – just burned alive with clean flames. Bastards.

May 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm
(12) Tracy says:

There is no proof the men served their time…they may have been given 85 years but let out on parole for God only knows what reason. My attacker is up for parole again, and may actually get out. Sentenced to 85 years, has been in for less than 20. 5 time felon. Make them serve their sentence…take parole off the table!

June 7, 2010 at 10:10 pm
(13) Jan says:

I agree with most of you what should happen with these men, I don’ t think that tax dollars should be spent any longer than to apply the death penalty. They obviously are past rehabilitation or help. I am a conservative all the way and have been in prison ministry for 18 years, for the most part our justice system is just not working. We combine violent offenders with non-violent, we have also criminalized society with so many now incarcerated in the US, I think it’s like 1 in 5 citizens,with extreme sentences for non-violent crimes, there is just no rule of thumb that applies across the board, meaning a young man who gets convicted of sexual assault for having sex with his underage girlfriend, is sentenced with a steeper sentence than a pedophile who stalks his victims? It’s just crazy. I am not a bleeding heart liberal by any means, but there are so many programs that are working that separate the violent/non-violent offenders and integrate rehabilitation, faith based, reward/punishment, educational, literary programs to increase skills (emotional, living, practical, spiritual) and decrease the risk of recidivism. We pack these inmates away in the system and in most cases just forget about them and when they are ready for parole they have very little to prepare them to re-enter society and be successful. Not to mention a shortage of probation programs and half-way houses. Yes in some cases the parolee has worked the system, and this is a horrible result of the dark society we live in, yet fortunately this is rare compared to the thousands that are paroled and we never hear about. If more money were put into prevention and rehabilitation and more uniform sentences, not putting people away for the rest of their lives if they are easily reformed, drug offenders, theft, sex offenses and other non-violent crimes then our prisons wouldn’t be so packed and the justice system bursting at the seems. Another problem at least here in Texas is that prisons are big business and provide great employment. Building prisons earn the state great revenue. The inmates work for free, their commissary money earns the prison system big money through interest, the inmates make all their own clothes, even grow their food in some cases, and cook it too. I think some of this is great, but at the same time, they’ve taken away good time for inmates that have earned time off for great behavior and hard work. They’ve also made it lucrative in some ways to keep inmates in for a long time, for instant the vendors that have deals with the states to provide items in commissary, snacks at visitation, medicines, etc They’ve also left it up to the Warden as to what programs are allowed in the prisons and not, when these faith based programs especially have been proven to work, such as Kairos and Horizons, why are they not in every prison? We can’ t keep punishing everyone for the few bad cases we read about. So many things need to change, and yes too much the way our justice system is run is politically motivated

September 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm
(14) jeff says:

This story has made me change my way of thinking, i think i will ask god to let me go to hell just to help torture these guy’s. What sick individuals they are. Maybe they won’t get out easy, maybe they will have life without parole so they can be raped and tortured everyday in prison before they burn in hell.

September 16, 2010 at 3:42 pm
(15) Nikki says:

These men need to be given the “eye for an eye’ treatment, administered by the Husband and Father.

September 17, 2010 at 11:41 am
(16) Jeff says:

I ache for that husband/father. What a tremendous loss. How does he make it day to day? While the media and others laser their focus on the criminals, as often our society does, we tend to forget about the victim(s) and who they were. If and when those two men receive their sentence, and if then sentence happens to be death, they will have more supporters present to spare their lives than this family received.

My heart goes out to the all those who were affected by this heinous crime. To the family members, the neigbors, school mates, friends, the bank employees, the police, the fire fighters, and everyone else who knew this family before and after the incident.

My prayers are with the surviving husband. For some reason he was spared. He must have a great work to do on this earth. Best of luck to him and all his supporters, I being one of them.

September 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm
(17) donna says:


September 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm
(18) pipo says:

Your laws are ####. Why havent they been charged with murder. I mean without getting technical should it matter who did what? Criminals such as them should receive Russia style justice take them to the next room and put a bullet in their head. End of story.

October 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm
(19) charles says:

once again the law allows multi time offenders to regain thier freedom and attack law abiding citizens, this time completely destroying an entire family.as a soldier and former corrections officer i believe the punishment should fit the crime,if you have the cruelty within you to set two young girls on fire, then you should share the same fate.if justice was swift and without mercy, as many criminals are, then maybe crimes such as these could be prevented.as it stands most multi offense criminals know that they will(worst case scenario) get a warm cell with access to legal libraries,outdoor and indoor gyms and 3 meals a day,coupled with endless appeals and opportunitys for release, i believe only a radical change in penalties for such crimes will make a differance in todays society.

October 5, 2010 at 8:44 pm
(20) Something Stink says:

Something is not right about this story I am sorry to say butwhy would they kill all the females and just beat the male as big as he is they just beat him and tie him up why didnt theyjust kill him to start off but instead gonna leave him and he is the only one that makes it with just stitches he dont show any remorse he talks as if it well their dead. He is hiding something and he knew they would not take a criminals word over his the murderer told them he had something to do with it but they didnt believe him of course not he is a respected Doctor.Seems like a selfish way to get out of a marriage and child support I know all of you think a man could not do that to his family well it happens everyday,they just dont get away with it,just watch the news Mr Petit needs to show alittle more remorse if this had been my family reguardless of how long it had been I would still be devestaded.He just dont show it maybe the truth will come out someday I know he will pay in another way if he thinks he got away with it.

September 27, 2011 at 12:04 am
(21) Julie says:

I disagree with your comment. Have you ever had a family member like your child or mom or dad murdered. Everyone deals with those horrible feelings and your never the same afterwards. I feel so bad for him. I know how it feels to have a family member murdered. Your whole life changes and if your lucky you can say…Yeah! I made it one more day. I had nightmares for years and years about the pain my mom suffered when she was murdered and it was unbearable at times. I use to think there could be nothing worse than your mom being tortured and murdered then I had a baby….it is so scary. I pray that Mr. Petit gets some kind of calm in his life.

October 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm
(22) George says:

I think it’s no right for us, the tax payers to support ( with our money) tha kind of crap in jail for long time. I believe execution, painlessly or no ( who care) need to be faster than what we have today. Criminal alway want to pospone their arriving to the end of their criminal road.

October 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm
(23) burninhell says:

my heart breaks Dr Petit, any human being with a soul would…death would be too easy for these 2 savages, too merciful. They need to be in jail, where even the lowest of the low would make every day hell for them for doing what they did. I believe in karma, and letting it take its course to right a wrong, but in this case, i’d like to see them suffer at the hands of someone with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers so they feel PAIN every day, as the angels that were Dr Petits family felt and how Dr Petit will feel every day for the rest of his life…God Bless them, for they are surely in paradise, in the arms of God.

November 8, 2010 at 8:30 pm
(24) Stephen says:

As a Father of 3 small children I am extremely upset about the thought of such an act on my family. I don’t know how anyone could commit such an act but I do know this…There can be no Justice strong enough to fit this crime. I can see no way to give the family any satisfaction for what they have suffered. I can only hope that those who see these acts of Horror will start to look at how the Criminal Justice System is broken. We have plenty of Prisons to keep ANIMALS like these locked up…..IF, we stop crowding them with Non-violant offenders. Not that I want those on the street but the ease of which some can get back into society is alarming. Many strong opinions on this thread. I am happy to see so many that are passionate about the Horror we saw in CT. God bless all of our families and the Petit’s. I wish I could shoulder some of their pain….I would take it willingly.

November 9, 2010 at 10:23 am
(25) Rachel says:

Something Stink, you are a moron. Enough said about your brainless comment.

I say vigilante justice for all.

And, if the reason that so many violent offenders are turned loose is because of overcrowding in jails…why not speed up the death penalty? You have all of these people sitting in cells that the government has said that they ARE going to EVENTUALLY kill. Well, if you go ahead and clear out death row, you will be killing two birds with one stone. Freeing up some space AND taking out some trash.

November 9, 2010 at 10:25 am
(26) Rachel says:

Also, stop filling up jail cells with marijuana smokers. Go bust a meth lab, you douche.

March 7, 2011 at 7:49 am
(27) Kaylee says:

I agree Rachel. Something stink, you need to cultivate that one brain cell that you have.
This is one of the most horrific stories I’ve heard.
There is no question that these animals should be put to death.
I believe in justice and the justice system but I believe that if you are a repeat offender you should lose your right to the possibility of parol – doesn’t that make more sense? If they have offended several times before, it’s highly likey that they’ll offend again. I think parol should only be an option for first time offenders. To avoid over crowding I think that sentencing needs to be looked at. There are many cases where the punishment is too harsh and vice versa.

May 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm
(28) Melvina says:

My heart is aching for the Dr. The mere thought of loosing my family brakes my heart, loosing them in this manner makes me totally beside myself. May God’s peace consume your every being. May the joy of the Lord be your strength

May 31, 2011 at 2:22 am
(29) summer says:

This story is sooo sad.My thoughts and prayers are with the victims. I agree someone should have been able to tell when they were in prison that they were a threat to others. They spend years with these people and at least one employee, counselor, gaurd know they aint suppose to be in society. I myself was in prison 13 years ago for 1 bad check and they gave me 5 years and I did 1 1/2 of it and was paroled..never been back, I am a proud mother of two wonderful children, have a masters degree working on my Phd in criminology. So not every CONVICT is a threat to society but I do agree there should be a better screening process 4 parole so monsters like this are never let out. I was in Iowa and there process was I was brought to this little room were the parole board which consisted of three members, were on tv…they asked me my name, number,charge and asked me if I learned my lesson, and then granted my parole. I am still in the process of trying to get my record sealed, it is a very long and hard process and not every “convict” reoffends…I believe I have paid my debt to society but still am paying the price when it comes to most jobs, I have gotten lucky and meant some very forgiving people that have let me prove myself and I have over 20 letters of recomendation from friends, family, professor’s, arressting officers, past and present employer’s. I am a law obiding tax paying citizen, have been 4 over a decade but yet am still judged. It should be the person not the catagorie they re in just by one bad judgement call made by a 17 year old girl. I agree but comeon now i wrote one 300 dollar stolen check at a walmart store 13 years ago, should I still b being punished? should I still be in prison? that would be unfair,,I am a strong believer in the eye 4 an eye, and I have gotten stolen from b4 and its not fun but I think I have OVER paid my debt, can I be forgiven????

September 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm
(30) Tori says:

I agree with most of you guys. but I think that government shouldn’t house murder’s and rappers. I believe they should put them in the middle of an ocean on a small bed of land, with no food nor clothing and just let them fin for themselves. Let them kill each other off and have perimeters set up out there and military watching them and shoot to kill. I think that would stop a lot of government spending on prisons and stop a lot of crime.

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