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Suspects charged in deadly CT home invasion

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Police in Connecticut have charged the two suspects in the home invasion and fire that left three people dead.

Police say the suspects, 26-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, of Cheshire, and 44-year-old Steve Hayes, of Winsted, are career criminals.

The two were formally charged with assault, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery and arson for the murder of the wife and two young daughters of a prominent doctor on Monday morning.

Eyewitness News has learned they were each ordered held in lieu of $15 million bond. State police have said that additional criminal charges are likely to be filed.

Police say the suspects broke into the home in Cheshire, Connecticut at around 3:00 a.m. and held Dr. William Petit Jr., 50, and his family hostage for hours. Then, according to police, the suspects set the house on fire with the bodies of 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela, inside.

Police say they were tipped off around 9:30 a.m. that the family was in danger, after employees at a local bank said one of the suspects forced a woman to withdraw money. While at the bank, the woman either passed a note or somehow alerted employees that something was wrong.

"The bank employees were instrumental in notifying Cheshire police," Lieutenant Paul Vance said. "And Cheshire police responded instantaneously upon receipt of that information."

When police arrived at the house, they say Komisarjevky and Hayes tried to escape by ramming three police cars. Meanwhile, the home was engulfed in flames.

Doctor Petit, an endocrinologist, was severely injured, but the only survivor of the home invasion and fire. He is listed in critical condition.

A bail commissioner said Hayes and Komisarjevky each have records that include over 20 prior burglaries, and both had been out of prison on parole.

The hospital has released the following statement from the Petit family:

"Our precious family members have been the victims of horrible, senseless, violent assaults. We are understandably in shock and overwhelmed with sadness as we attempt to gather together to support one another and recognize these wonderful, giving beautiful individuals who have been so cruelly taken from us.

We ask that the media respect the personal needs of our family and each of its members and refrain from seeking further comment. Everyone's prayers are greatly appreciated at this most difficult time."

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