The Case: Anatomy of a Home Invasion
In the late afternoon of July 22nd, 2007, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughter Michaela went to a local grocery store in Cheshire, Connecticut. They had been targeted by Steven Hayes and his accomplice Joshua Komisarjevsky, who followed them home, and planned to rob the family by home invasion. Anticipating their deeds, Hayes and Komisarjevsky exchanged text messages that were later introduced in court. According to Hayes’ confession, the two men planned to rob the house and flee the scene with the family bound and unharmed, but there was a change in their plan. They beat the husband, William Petit, with a bat Komisarjevsky had found in their yard, and then tied him up in the basement at gunpoint. The children and their mother were each bound and locked in their respective rooms. Hayes convinced Jennifer to withdraw $15,000 from her line of credit. Video surveillance at a gas station showed Hayes purchasing $10 worth of gasoline in two cans he had taken from the Petit home.
Hayes and Komisarjevsky escalated their crime when Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted the 11-year-old daughter, Michaela, and photographed his assault on his cell phone. He then provoked Hayes to rape Jennifer. Hayes strangled Jennifer, and doused her body and parts of the house, including the daughter’s room, with gasoline. A fire was then ignited, and Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the scene, leaving the family members to die from smoke inhalation. The invasion lasted seven hours, and Hayes and Komisarjevsky were found guilty of their role in the home invasion and murders. Although this was a horrific crime, we learn from this case that many crimes of violence leave behind a considerable amount of evidence behind.
Using the context from the excerpt and class material from Chapter 1, answer the following discussion questions in paragraph form.
Criminal Investigators must learn to look beyond the horror of the crime and evaluate what occurred from a scientific and analytical point of view:
- Using the chapter material and the information about this home invasion, what do you think about the role of the investigators and the solvability of this crime?
- Please explain what you have learned in this chapter about the history of criminal investigation that might be relevant to this case.
“Neighbors, schools mourn Petit family – Family’s charitable work honored.” (2007). Channel 3 Eyewitness News.
Goodall, J., & Hawks, C. (2005). Crime scene documentation. San Clemente, CA: Law Tech Custom Publishing.