What Happened To The Petit Family? | Home Invasion | True Crime

(The Petit family. Picture credit: nypost.com

I was already researching another case when I stumbled across an article about this one and it horrified me. I decided to take a break from the other case and began researching about what happened to this beautiful family who were living the American dream. What really happened to them and who was responsible? It had such an impact on me that I felt that I had to research more about the case and write about it here. 

This case is disturbing and I will be mentioning some difficult details which will include sexual abuse so please keep that in mind before reading further.

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This case that happened in Cheshire, Connecticut (US) really rocked me to my core and it's one of those stories that stays with you after you have read about it. The Petit family seemed to have it all. Their family portraits show a happy, smiling, beautiful family who lived their lives to the fullest and you could see a lot of love in the pictures.

That was the first thing I saw before going further into my research, a picture of the family, on holiday, smiling without a care in the world. I looked back at the same picture after I had learnt of the details of what happened to them and my heart broke, a mixture of sadness, anger and fear that this horrible nightmare could happen to anyone, any family. I was so upset that it had happened to them. 

I just want to briefly introduce you to the Petit family, there was William who was a well respected Doctor, his wife Jennifer (who was a nurse and co-director of a health centre at Cheshire Academy) and their two daughters, Hayley (who had just graduated and was getting ready to start University. Hayley had plans to follow in her parent's footsteps and study medicine) and 11 year old Michaela who was a bright little girl who was popular with her fellow classmates and teachers at her school.  William and Jennifer had a very loving family and first met each other in 1985 at a hospital they were both working at. The family were close and were always spending quality time together.

The family were hardworking and both William and Jennifer worked the long hours it took to make sure that themselves and their daughters lived comfortably and enjoyed the fruits of those labours. They would go on exotic holidays, eat the finest foods and they lived in a big, beautiful house. They never bragged about their successes or rubbed their lifestyle in peoples faces. They were kind and being in the health care profession, all they wanted to do was give back and help people. Hayley and Michaela had the same drive and kindness that their parents had. 

On the 22nd of July 2007 it was just like any other Sunday afternoon and Michaela was planning to prepare a meal for her mother as a treat so she went along with Jennifer to their local supermarket to pick up some of the ingredients. 

(One of the last known images of Jennifer and Michaela at the supermarket. Picture credit: shorelinetimes.com)

As Jennifer and Michaela were walking down the aisles talking amongst themselves about what else they needed to pick up, a man by the name of Joshua Komisarjevsky was texting his friend Steven Hayes and people watching. His eyes became transfixed on Jennifer and Michaela and he continued to watch them as they walked out of the supermarket and put the groceries in Jennifer's car. He noticed that the car looked like an expensive one and he said later that he could tell that Jennifer must have been quite wealthy. He followed them to their address and just sat in the car watching them go into the house. 

Joshua and Steven put a plan together that they were going to sneak into the Petit's house in the early hours of the morning and steal some cash, maybe some items of expensive jewelry. They planned (according to their statements) to tie the family up and just rob the house before making a getaway and leaving them unharmed. 

They didn't waste any time in carrying out their plan because just hours after Joshua had spotted Jennifer and Michaela in the supermarket, here they were, sneaking into the Petit family home in the early hours of the morning (23rd of July 2007).

Straight away the original plan was abandoned as the pair had discovered William asleep on the sofa, they assumed that he would be upstairs in the bedroom. Joshua took a baseball bat and violently hit William over the head with it, William was still conscious as they tied him up and threatened him with a gun. They told him that all they wanted was money and asked where he kept the safe to which he responded that there was no safe in the house. They decided at that point to leave him on the sofa and look around the house. 

They went upstairs to check if anyone else was there and went from room to room where they found Jennifer and the girls, tying them up in their rooms. 

They then continued to search the house for expensive items and money. They came across a bank book with details of an account balance. They decided that one of them should take Jennifer to the bank to draw out some money whilst the other kept an eye on things at the house. They returned to where William was on the sofa and forced him at gunpoint down to the basement where he was tied to a pole, he was bleeding heavily from the head wound and drifting in and out of consciousness.

Steven left the house very briefly to purchase gasoline which he put into two canisters before returning to the house to take Jennifer to the bank. One can only imagine what he must have said to her on the journey there. It was probably along the lines of what they had said earlier about just wanting money, he may have said that if she got the money for him, her family would be let go. Looking at the CCTV footage stills of Jennifer in the bank as she went to get the money, it's amazing that she remained calm throughout the terrifying ordeal. 

(One of the haunting images from CCTV footage of Jennifer at the bank as Steven Hayes waited for her. Picture credit: telegraph.co.uk

As Jennifer was discussing withdrawing $15,000 from the account, she quickly passed a note to the assistant behind the desk who quickly gave it to her bank manager. The bank manager called 911 and gave a brief description of the car and what Steven was wearing as he watched Jennifer get into the car. Jennifer apparently mentioned in the note that the men who were holding her family were being 'nice' and that 'they only want money'. She had no idea where her husband was at this point and there was no way she could have known what they had done to him. 

Jennifer and Steven returned to the house just before the police arrived near the house in unmarked cars. Some of the officers stationed themselves behind trees. As Steven walked into the living room with Jennifer, Joshua came down the stairs holding his phone towards Steven.

Whilst Jennifer and Steven were at the bank, Joshua had been upstairs sexually assaulting 11 year old Michaela whilst filming the whole sickening act on his phone. He was bragging to Steven about it and encouraging him to do the same to Jennifer. Steven grabbed Jennifer and threw her to the floor and raped her. 

After raping Jennifer, Steven looked up towards a window noticed some of the commotion outside, he realised the police were surrounding the house and put his hands around Jennifer's throat and strangled her to death.

Whilst this horrendous nightmare was going on, William who was still down in the basement and bleeding heavily, managed to untie himself and escaped through a hatch in the basement. He struggled to get over to the neighbours house. The neighbour later reported that he didn't even recognise William at first because of his injuries. William could hardly speak but was trying to tell the police that his wife and two daughters were still in the house. 

Back inside the house, Steven poured gasoline all over Jennifer's dead body and went upstairs to where the girls where. Pillowcases were placed on their heads and gasoline poured over them. They poured some more gasoline around the house and set fire to the house.

The pair then attempted to flee in one of the Petit family cars which was parked outside. They only made it so far when the police caught up with them and they were arrested immediately.

Back at the Petit family home, it was too late, a large part of the house was in flames and the girls, along with Jennifer had died. When the firefighters got there they found Jennifer's body in the living room and Michaela's in one of the bedrooms. Hayley had managed to get loose from the ties and had crawled to the hallway. Both girls died of smoke inhalation.

(The Petit family home after the horrendous fire and murders of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela. Picture credit: abcnews.go.com)

Whilst in custody both Joshua and Steven blamed each other for the murders. Joshua had confessed to following Jennifer and Michaela from the supermarket on the Sunday, hitting William over the head with the baseball bat and sexually assaulting Michaela whilst filming the assault on his phone. He claimed that Steven was responsible for burning down the house and for Jennifer's death.

Steven and Joshua were aiming to have life in prison instead of the death penalty and tried to come to a deal but this was denied and both had to stand trial in front of a Jury. 

Steven's lawyer fought to get him life in prison instead of a death sentence, telling the jury that life imprisonment would be more of an ordeal to Steven rather than a death sentence. The Jury still decided that he should be executed for his horrendous crimes. The jury came to the same conclusion about Joshua, that he too should be executed for the part he played in the murders. 

In another shocking turn of events, Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2015 and both Joshua and Steven had their sentences changed to life imprisonment.

(Monsters: Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Joseph Hayes. Picture credit: nypost.com)

In recent news (2019) , Steven Hayes (who it was later revealed that he had been in and out of prison from the age of 16) has been reported to be undergoing gender transitioning in prison. He claims that he always knew that he was a female from an early age. 

On a lighter note of which has been a traumatic and horrible series of events, William Petit decided to leave his role as a Doctor and commit himself full time to the foundation he set up in honour of his late wife and two daughters, The Petit Family Foundation 

As difficult as it must have been for him (nobody can imagine what William had gone through and to be the only one who survived must have been traumatic) William did find love again with a woman he met called Christine, she brought some light into the darkness and they soon married and had a child. William has never given up thinking about or dedicating his life to Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela. He comes across as an amazing person who would have done anything for his family and just wants to go on and help other people.

(A new chapter but one that still honours the memory of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela. William Petit with his wife Christine and their son William. Picture credit: nypost.com

It's quite moving to see pictures of William with Christine and his son William today, to see someone who has been to hell and back come through the other side and rebuild their lives in such a wonderful way is so admirable and inspiring. 

I wish the best for William, Christine and their son.

RIP, Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela. 

You can find William on Twitter at @docpetit_art & follow the foundation that he set up to honour the lives of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela: @PFFPetit 

Thank you as always for reading my latest post, let me know your thoughts x 

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Death Row Scot: The kenny Richey Story: Part Three

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 Unsolved : Part Three: The Highway Of Tears & The Disappearance Of Maddy Scott 

Unsolved: Part Two | What Happened To Melanie Melanson? 

- Unsolved: Part One | Molly Bish & Holly Piirainen 

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1 comment:

  1. What a sad story. I feel so sorry for William losing his family like in that way. Joshua and Steven should of had the def penalty for what they did to the family but I am glad that William is getting on with his life. ❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹