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Three killed in home burglary-arson

A doctor is attacked, his wife and daughters slain at their Connecticut residence. Two parolees are arrested.

July 25, 2007|From the Associated Press

MERIDEN, CONN. — Two parolees with long rap sheets broke into a doctor's home, strangled his wife and killed the couple's two daughters in a fire they set to cover their tracks, authorities said Tuesday.

Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, of Cheshire and Steven Hayes, 44, of Winsted were arraigned on charges of assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, arson, larceny and risk of injury to children. More charges were pending, state police said.

Bail was set at $15 million each, which Judge Christina G. Dunnell said was warranted because of the men's criminal histories. They did not enter pleas, and their public defenders declined to comment.

The state medical examiner confirmed that Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled and that her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, died of smoke inhalation. All three deaths were ruled homicides.

Dr. William A. Petit Jr., 50, remained hospitalized with head injuries.

"He's doing OK physically. Emotionally, he is devastated and still worried about others," said Petit's pastor, the Rev. Stephen Volpe.

Two men entered the Petit home, in Cheshire, about 3 a.m. Monday, planning to burglarize it, state police said. Finding the family at home, the men beat Petit, then tied up his wife and daughters, police said.

Employees at a bank called police after one man forced Hawke-Petit to make a withdrawal there about 9:30 a.m., officials said. The suspects were caught in the family's car as they fled the burning home and rammed several police cruisers, authorities said.

Hawke-Petit and her daughters were found dead inside the home. Petit escaped the blaze and told police what happened.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky each have more than 20 burglaries on their records, authorities said. Both were free on parole after serving time for burglary convictions in 2003, according to bail commissioner Garcia Harris.

The two suspects spent time last year in the same Hartford halfway house before being paroled in the spring, said Brian Garnett, a Correction Department spokesman. Neither has been convicted of a violent crime, and both were deemed appropriate candidates for supervised parole, he said.

Petit, the president of the Hartford County Medical Assn., is a specialist in diabetes and endocrinology and is the medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain. Hawke-Petit was a nurse and co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy, a private boarding school.

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