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Crime & Courts

Connecticut Home Invasion Killer Claims to Have Murdered 17 People, According to Prison Letter

Stephen Hayes

Photo released in Feb. 2010 by the Connecticut Department of Correction shows convicted killer Steven Hayes. (AP)

A Connecticut man convicted in a deadly home invasion bragged in a letter from death row that he has killed 17 people and collected victims' sneakers as trophies, and he also disparaged his accomplice as "not even worthy" of being his partner in crime, according to a newspaper report.

The New Haven Register reported Sunday that it had acquired a letter that Steven Hayes allegedly wrote from prison, where he has been sentenced to death for the 2007 Cheshire home invasion that killed a mother and her two daughters.

Hayes' convicted accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, had attempted to have Hayes' letters introduced into evidence as part of his defense case after they were confiscated by prison authorities. A judge rejected the request, calling the letters' claims uncorroborated, vague and unreliable.

The letters have not been publicly released, and the Register did not specify in its report how it obtained access to the letter it attributes to Hayes.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky have been convicted of murder, sexual assault and other offenses in the July 2007 deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela. They also were convicted of assault and other crimes against Dr. William Petit, the lone survivor.

The sentencing phase of Komisarjevsky's trial starts Tuesday. Prosecutors are asking a jury to impose capital punishment in his case, too.

Connecticut officials confiscated four handwritten letters allegedly written by Hayes to a North Carolina recipient identified only as "Lynn." In the letters, he claimed he had killed 17 people, committed numerous sexual assaults of drugged victims in motels, taped 16 hours of one kidnapping and assault, and kept a collection of some victims' sneakers as trophies.

Hayes' sneaker fetish came out during his trial. Komisarjevsky's attorneys say an unspecified number of women's sneakers were seized from his house and that 17-year-old Hayley Petit's sneakers were found in the vehicle Hayes used during the home invasion.

State's Attorney Michael Dearington and an FBI spokesman have declined to say whether Hayes' purported crimes are being investigated or whether authorities are aware of 17 unsolved homicides matching details in his letters.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky blamed each other during their trials for escalating the violence that left the Petit women dead.

The letter attributed to Hayes and quoted by the Register says he thought Komisarjevsky "was someone who could embrace and had the capacity for evil as I possess," but that Hayes was disappointed in him and would have killed him after the Cheshire crimes if they had gotten away.

Komisarjevsky had "the proper evil intent (but) lacked in the most serious aspects, commitment and control," Hayes' purported letter says.

It also asks the recipient to hold on to the details of the letters until after Hayes' execution because, the letter says, the information "could be worth millions to the right people."

Hayes' attorney, Thomas Ullman, declined to comment when reached Sunday by The Associated Press.

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