Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Connecticut Nightmare

A Chance Meeting

Jennifer Hawke-Petit
Jennifer Hawke-Petit

Fourteen years after stealing his first car, Joshua Komisarjevsky was still using cars to get into trouble.

According to Komisarjevsky, he was sitting in his mother's beat-up red Chevrolet Venture van on Saturday, July 22, 2007, listening to Guns N' Roses in the parking lot of the Super Stop & Shop in Cheshire. According to the accused, the first thing he noticed was the very nice Chrysler Pacifica minivan parked next to him. He recalls thinking like a crook: where there's a nice car, there's good money.

Then he noticed the three females inside the car. By Komisarjevsky's account, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, the youngish, blonde mother, and her pretty daughter Michaela, still wearing braces on her teeth, went inside to shop for groceries while older daughter Hayley stayed in the van. He watched and waited until mother and daughter came back to the Pacifica with their groceries and then proceeded to follow them.

It's about three miles from the Super Stop & Shop to the Petit home. Komisarjevsky says he followed the Pacifica casually, staying several car lengths behind. He wasn't worried about losing the minivan; it was his neighborhood, after all.

When the van pulled into Sorghum Mill Drive, Komisarjevsky knew the street well; he says he had committed several burglaries there over the years. The Petits' Pacifica rolled into the driveway, and the family was oblivious to the ex-convict driving past their home. There remained unaware that they were being followed, and that the man following them was looking for targets.

Glenn Petit, Jennifer Hawke-Petit's brother-in-law, repeated information the police told him after the murders. The perpetrators "liked the car, followed her home, thought she lived in a nice house."

Steven Hayes
Steven Hayes

While he was waiting at the Super Stop & Shop, Joshua Komisarjevky says, he was talking on his cell phone with Steven Hayes. The two had met in a halfway house after being released from prison. Now Hayes needed money and was on the verge of losing parole; Komisarjevsky had just had his ankle bracelet removed and wanted a thrill.

"Robbing a house is better than any drug I've ever tried," the young thief once told a friend. Komisarjevsky has called burglary a "a form of extreme sport."

That night, police say, the two ex-cons would commit their first crimes together as a team.