NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The suspects in a deadly home invasion in Cheshire poured gasoline on and around a mother and two daughters, then set their house on fire and fled, according to search warrants released by a judge Tuesday.
The 11 heavily edited warrants provide the first official version of the events of July 23. Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were killed. Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit, was badly beaten but escaped.
Investigators found traces of rope-like material around the ankles of all three victims and tied to the two girls' wrists and bedposts, according to the warrants. They also found three partially melted one-gallon gas containers.
"One of the deceased was burned beyond recognition, with indications that an accelerant was liberally poured on her," investigators wrote in a search warrant. "The remaining two victims appeared to have some indication of accelerant being poured onto or in close proximity to them, but not to the same degree as the other victim."
Hawke-Petit was strangled and the two girls died of smoke inhalation, according to the medical examiner.
Paroled burglars Joshua Komisarjevsky, 27, of Cheshire, and Steven Hayes, 44, of Winsted, both face capital felony and multiple murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and arson charges in connection with the killings.
They are scheduled to appear Nov. 6 in Superior Court for probable cause hearings.
An attorney for The Hartford Courant argued last month for the release of the documents. Prosecutors did not object to unsealing the warrants, but defense attorneys said coverage of their contents would make it difficult to find impartial jurors for their client's trials.
Last week, Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani agreed to release edited versions of the warrants. Defense attorneys did not appeal.
"I don't think there is anything new that hasn't been previously disclosed," said Thomas Ullmann, the public defender representing Hayes. He declined further comment.
Police say Komisarjevsky and Hayes entered the home about 3 a.m. July 23, planning to burglarize it. When they found the family home, they beat Dr. Petit, then tied up his wife and daughters.
Authorities were tipped off that the family was in danger by employees at a local bank when one of the suspects forced Hawke-Petit to make a withdrawal around 9:30 a.m. Bank employees became suspicious and called police, who drove to the Petit home.
The suspects were caught in the family's car after ramming several cruisers as they fled the burning home, which they allegedly torched to cover their tracks. Dr. Petit escaped to a neighbor's house.
Police searched a car registered to Komisarjevsky's mother and found a package for a BB gun, duct tape, a Lowe's Home Improvement store receipt, flexible ties and different types of gloves, according to the warrants.
In another car, they found Dr. Petit's wallet, his wife's wallet, two pearl necklaces and a red, blood-like stain.
The warrants also allowed police to test various items for traces of blood, saliva and semen.