Cheshire Connecticut

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The Cheshire Murders

The Cheshire murders happened on the 23rd of July, 2007, when a family home in Cheshire, Connecticut, was invaded by two men. 

A day prior to the crimes, the mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughter Michaela caught the attention of one of the perpetrators, Joshua Komisarjevski, who followed them home after spotting at a local supermarket. Komisarjevski then made plans with Steven Hayes to enter the family’s home.

On the early morning of July 23, they did just that. As they arrived and encountered father and husband William Petit laying on a porch couch, they struck him in the head with a baseball bat and tied him in the basement.
The intruders then moved upstairs where they bound and locked the mother and two daughters, Hayley (17) and Michaela (11), in their rooms.

Hayes proceeded to take Jennifer Hawke-Petit to the bank, for her to withdraw $15,000. Inside the bank Jennifer discretely informed the teller of what was happening, stating that the men were “being nice” and that she thought money was their only interest. The bank manager called 911 reporting the situation.

Police responded to the 911 call, arriving at the scene where they only took preliminary measures and made no effort to establish contact with the perpetrators or to put a stop to the invasion. During this time that the gravity of the crimes intensified. Joshua Komisarjevski raped eleven year old Michaela Petit, photographing the process on his phone and convinced his partner to sexual assault the mother, who was then strangled by Hayes after the pair noticed William Petit had escaped from the basement to get help.

The attack ended when intruders poured gasoline all over the house, including on Jennifer’s dead body and on Hayley and Michaela, who were still alive and bound in their rooms. After starting a fire, both Hayes and Komisarjevski fled the scene but were rapidly caught by police.

Fire consumed the house, burning the mother’s lifeless body beyond recognition. Michaela and Hayley Petit died due to smoke inhalation. Before her death Hayley managed to set herself free and approach the top of the staircase, where she eventually died. The girls suffered from heat damage and severe burns to their bodies, that could not, with certainty, be identified as pre or postmortem. The whole invasion ended after seven hours and William Petit was the sole survivor of the tragedy.

Gathering Storm on Long Island Sound

Artist:John Frederick Kensett (American, Cheshire, Connecticut 1816–1872 New York)
Date:1872
Medium:Oil on canvas

The Met