Saturday, July 28, 2007

"As much as we miss them, God weeps with us."

"Thank you all for coming out today to honor the memory of the girls. I would really like to say thank you to people from all over the state of Connecticut and all over the country," stated Dr William Petit Jr today at the public memorial for Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela.

People may wonder or admire William's strength in attending today's memorial but it wasn't as easy as he let on. He said that part of him wanted to stay within the safety of the hospital and hide there, not facing things. His message to the attendees was simply:

"It's for us to go forward with the inclination to live with faith and help a neighbor, fight for a cause, love your family, I'm really expecting all of you to go out and do some things with your family in your own little way to spread the work of these three wonderful women."
William went on to describe how he met his wife at Children's Hospital in Pittsburg and eventually married her 22 years ago. He described her as an amazing mother and friend. She was involved in all aspects of their daughter's lives, she was their confidant, more like they were three sister's.

He shared portions of Hayley's entrance essay titled " My Dad", an essay that his wife shared with him after Hayley was accepted to Dartmouth College. Of his younger daughter, Michaela, he said that once you had the smile from his shy daughter, you were in. She also played basketball like her father and they shared a love of oldies music. She loved cooking and the food channel and William found out from her teachers, that she would always be the student who stuck up for another if they were being picked on. He described her as a wonderful little girl who would have grown up to be a wonderful woman.

The service lasted more than two hours and was more than just a time to share grief, it was a celebration of how to rise above simply living life day to day, how to make a small difference in the world. The Petit family should be remembered not just for the tragedy involving them but for the good they accomplished together. Today, the community gathered to celebrate them and support William, the lone survivor... instead of a devastated man, he stood as an example of how inner strength and faith allow you to face the future after such a terrible event.


Dr William Petit Jr speaks at the memorial, go here.

William Petit Sr and family speak at the memorial, go here.

Friends and family share readings at the memorial, go here.

Rev Volpe, Petit family pastor offers prayers, go here.

The excerpt of Hayley's essay, go here.

For my previous post, go here. For my newer posts, go here, here and here.

Update: posted July 30

A second public memorial service for Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela will be held today at 7 pm. It is being organized by the Plainville Town Manager's office and will be held at Veteran's Park at the intersection of Whiting and Maple Streets, directly across from Dr Petit's office, in Plainville CT.

Update: posted July 31

Dr William Petit Jr grew up in Plainville CT and hundreds came out Monday evening to attend the memorial held there on Whiting St, near his office. He did not speak at this memorial but other family members did.

"We need to go on for them," stated Bill Petit Sr.

Reports that it took the police 30 minutes to arrive at the Petit home, Cheshire police say are "absolutely false." At 9:30 am, Jennifer was withdrawing money at the bank and it was immediatelt afterwards, that the Cheshire police were notified by bank officials about the "suspicious withdrawal." The prosecutor in this case has asked that the exact time that police were dispatched to the scene not be immediately released. Cheshire police spokesman Lt Jay Markella denies that it took police a half-hour to get to the home.

Most importantly I feel, is that, according to William Petit Sr, the family does not have a problem with how long it took for the police to arrive. The Cheshire police are working with the Connecticut State Police in the continued investigation of the case and say that they expect more charges to be filed against the two suspects. While it is easy to make judgements after the fact, until the full reports are released, I will believe Bill Sr's statement that the police did not take "too long" to arrive at the scene. From what has been said so far, they were dispatched on the report of a "suspicious withdrawal" made by Jennifer and even if they had dispatched every available officer to the Petit home immediately, this is real life and not TV, I do not believe 30 minutes is an incredibly long time to respond to an "unknown" crime.

The Petit family has set up a memorial fund with the MS society, where all three women were active. It is called the "Hayley's Hope and Michaela's Miracles Memorial Fund" and while the fund has only been set up for a few days, it already has received over 100 donations totaling more than $7,000.

For the Cheshire police public statement, go here.

Update: posted July 31 - memorial and new standards for parolees requested by the Gov Rell

The town of Plainville planned the second memorial for Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela, expecting 500-700 members of the community to mourn with the approximately 90 members of the Hawke and Petit families. The Petit family has deep roots within Plainville, William Jr has his office across from the park where the memorial was held and his father, William Sr owns a general store down the street from there. The family addressed the public in their hometown, where they have long been known for their involvement and civic-mindedness.

Monday night, the community returned the favor. One of William's former classmates stated that the community was their for the family, in any way they need and for however long they are needed. Near the end of the service, a candle was lit and passed in a symbol of unity. The Cheshire town leaders have said that they are considering a proposal to turn the Petit family home on Sorgum Mill Dr into a memorial park.

CT Gov Jodi Rell said today, that she plans to ask the Legislature to reclassify home burglaries as violent crimes. That would require anyone convicted to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before considered for release to parole. Under the newly proposed new standards, any parolees with convictions of nighttime burglaries or burglaries of occupied will be subjected to unannounced nightime visits at their homes and workplaces.

Rell also said that the Parole Board will begin reviewing the cases of the current 38 burglary II paroles. She said that certain burglars eligible for parole will undergo psychiatric evaluation and that the Board of Pardons and Paroles will receive more information from the police and judicial system. Rell wants lawmakers in Connecticut to examine the issue at a special session rather than wait until February 2008, when the regular sessions begin.

Update: posted Aug 1, sentencing transcript information.

The sentencing transcript made in 2002 for Komisarjevsky on 12 burglary cases, which hadn't been made available to the state Board of Pardons and Parole, details much of his life. At the time of that sentencing, he was 22 and had already been sentenced on similar crimes in Meridan.

"He was not a novice breaking into someone's house. This is a cool, collective person who is not showing, in the state's view, any nervousness breaking into these houses," stated Prosecutor Ronald Dearstyne.

Dearstyne stated that Komisarjevsky explained in detail how he had burglarized homes for over two years. He stated that he had commited them so that he could pay back his drug dealer and that he felt safer in prison.

The prosecutor, the defense and his adoptive parents all agreed that he suffered from mental disorders, including three learning disorders: Attention Deficit Disorder, dyslexia and dysgraphia. He was adopted at the age of fouteen days and his parents supported his being placed in rehabilitation to help him overcome his depression. The defense had argued that he was not having a difficult time in prison and needed treatment.

William Gerace, his defense attorny explained how "Josh had a history that was really different," partially because he had lostfour reletives including his grandfather at age fourteeen. That also was when he found out that he had been adopted and his parents testified that it was traumatic for him. Gerace also added that Komisarjevsky had suffered from eight concussions and sexual abuse at several different levels at various points in his life.

The judge stated that his conduct was predatory and his crimes were calculated and intentional. Komisarjevsky was sentenced then to be incarcerated or on special parole for the next fifteen years and that he had to undergo substance abuse evaluation and a mental health evaluation.

Update: posted Sept 11

NBC Dateline has added small bit of information to the continuing story of the Petit family tragedy. On Monday, Sept 10, they broadcast "Desperate Hours," exposing a large amount of raw footage not available on other local news broadcasts. They also included in their program, information that has come to light from various sources.

Dateline stated that the police do believe that at least one of the two men had followed the Petit car back from the grocery store to find which house it returned to. Authorities though, believe that they entered the home much later than that through the basement and encountered William asleep on the downstairs couch.

It seems that Komisarjevski, in a attempt to explain his absence from work the morning of the fire, called his boss at an East Hartford roofing company and told him that he would not be coming to work because his daughter was sick.

The program also stated that while Jennifer may have felt that the $15,000 may possibly save her family, it seems that both men had already decided what would happen when she returned. The police were already headed to the Petit home after speaking to bank officials when a neighbor of the Petit's called 911. He had heard William's screams for help as he stumbled across the yard, so bloodied that the neighbor had difficulty recognizing him.

William had heard his wife pleading for her life immediately after she returned from the bank and it seems that both men had already planned to cover their tracks by killing the family and burning the evidence. Hayes is said to have strangeled Jennifer as soon as they had returned and her body was later found lying on a coffeetable downstairs.

When the neighbor had called 911 at aproximately 9:45 am, the police were already setting up a perimeter around the Petit home and awaiting the arrival of the SWAT team. While they were setting up, another 911 call was placed by another neighbor to report fire coming from the home and the fire department was dispatched at 9:59 am.

While many still debate the response time of the police department, it should be remembered that there are probably those in the department as well, who are trying to second guess that days events....... especially after finding out that Hayley had broken free from the ropes and attempted to escape and Michaela died tied to her bed.


It has been released that Hayes had been dropped from the drug treatment program a month before the Petit family attack. The Catholic Charities drug treatment program in Torrington had dropped him in late June after he had repeatedly failed to complete a mental health and drug history evaluation.

The assessment of his drug history and mental health had been rescedualed twice and clinical social worker Cynthia Glasser had rated his participation in the program as "unsatisfactory." Correction department spokeswoman Stacy Smith stated that his parole officer, John Viscomi had been notified that Hayes had failed to comply with the drug treatment provision of his parole plan.

"It's not that it was overlooked. He got the notification. It just
wasn't followed up on. There's no explanation for that," stated

Smith did state that Viscomi had been impressed with the enthusiasm Hayes had, he was working two jobs, one in landscaping and another in food service. He had not missed any of his appointment with Viscomi and had been producing paystubs for the hours he had worked.

Hayes had been released from Gates Correctioal Institution at 9:15 am May 3 and less than two days later, was arrested at 6:25 am. He had been pulled over by a state trooper while driving on Rte 8 in Torrington going 84 mph in a 65 mph zone. He was driving his mother's car and Smith stated that the ticket would not have necessarily sent him back to prison on a parole violation.

In regards to Hayes contact with the drug program, Smith stated that he had called when his first appointment had been schedualed for June 4 and cited a conflict with work. He did show up for his reschedualed apointment on June 11 but told them that he couldn't stay because he had to go to work. The apointment was again reschedualed for June 20 but Haynes niether called or showed up for that one, so he was discharged from the program.

Komisarjevsky it is reported, was the model parolee. He never missed any of his 15 face-to-face meetings with his parole officers after his March 21 release and regularly attended cocaine anonymous meetings on Tuesday nights. his last meeting with parole officers was on July 19 and they removed the monitoring ankle bracelet at that time. He had been under a strict reporting system and had a 9 pm curfew.

Records show that he did violate that curfew on two occasions. One time on July 6, he had permission to take his daughter to a local fireworks display and returned home at 9:32 pm and the second was the following night, July 7, when he arrived home at 9:39 pm.

Komisarjevsky was doing a lot better, and he was the more dangerous. The problem is, you have a system where dealing entirely with convicted criminals. To me, the real challenge is to spot the needle in the haystack," stated Rep Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the judiciary commitee.

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the state's highest ranking senator, called for the firing of Robert Farr, chairman of the state's parole board and the resignation of the seven other parole board members. He has proposed replacing them with a full time professional board.

In answering the question of being to blame for both suspects being paroled, Farr stated that they had made the best decision they could based on the available information. House Speaker James Amann and state victem advocate James Papillo both state that Farr shouldn't be blamed for having to work within a flawed system that obviously needs to be reformed.

"How do you blame Bob Farr if he didn't have the information? People seem to be missing that point," stated Amann.

One of the problems facing any parole board is trying to precdict future behavior. If a person lacks a history of violence, the board assumes that the behavior will continue. There are many crimes commited yearly by people who gave no warning of having that kind of behavior.

In the wake of the Petit murder's, Connecticut is proposing a "three strikes" law that some say could increase the inmate population by 1,000 inmates a year and require a new $110 million prison to be built. The new proposed mandatory life sentnces, tighter standards for parole and other proposals all will come at a price, something that has to be budgeted for or the system will fail.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis has stated that ending parole and transitional supervision would exceed the current prison capacity, which is at 17,000 beds and now has 19,000 prisoners occupying them. The estimated pricetag of monitoring every parolee with GPS technology is a more modest proposal but costly as well. The annual cost for every 30 parolles tracked is $212,000 a year.

Rep Michael P Lawlor, D-E Haven, stated that he hopes that the legislation focuses on providing the courts and prison officials with the information and tools needed to find "the needle in a haystack" and identify the dangerous ciminals before they are released. One fiscal analysis has shown that transcripts can be provided in all cases for the modest cost of approximately $45,000 a year.

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