FRANKLYWNOW - Pair charged in deadly home invasion

Pair charged in deadly home invasion

CHESHIRE, Connecticut (AP) -- Two men were charged with burglary, arson and sexual assault for allegedly breaking into a doctor's home, forcing a hostage to withdraw cash at a bank and burning the house several hours later, killing the doctor's wife and two daughters.

Steven Hayes, 44, and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26. have been charged with assault, kidnapping and arson.

William Petit Jr., a prominent endocrinologist, was severely injured and was the sole survivor of Monday's attack.

The suspects were caught fleeing the burning home, which they apparently set on fire to cover their tracks, authorities said.

Joshua Komisarjevky, 26, of Cheshire, and Steven Hayes, 44, of Winsted, were due in court Tuesday.

They face charges of assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery and arson. State police said additional charges were likely.

It wasn't immediately clear if the two had attorneys.

Bank employees contacted police when one of the suspects accompanied a female hostage, who was not identified, to make a withdrawal around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Petit's wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were found dead in the home, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said. Video Watch police and neighbors react with horror »

The attack rocked Cheshire, an upper-middle class community of 29,000 full of colonial-style homes just east of Waterbury and about 15 miles north of New Haven.

On Tuesday, the family was remembered for the parents' past achievements and the daughters' promising futures.

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Hayley Petit, a high school senior and three-sport athlete, left her sick bed last month long enough to attend commencement before returning to the hospital.

"She was not going to let her class down," said M. Burch Tracy Ford, head of school at Miss Porter's School in Farmington.

Ford and so many others are struggling after learning that Hayley, her mother and younger sister died in the violent home invasion.

"Right now it's so awful and so hard even to take in the horror of it," Ford said.

Dr. Petit, 50. though severely injured, managed to tell police what happened. His wife and two daughters were found dead in the home, said a law enforcement official with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.

"In Cheshire we're not used to this type of event," town Police Chief Michael Cruess said. "It's a very unfortunate, tragic event that's probably going to reach right down to the core of the community."

Hayley Petit received an early acceptance to Dartmouth, her father's alma mater. A tireless fundraiser for multiple sclerosis, captain of the basketball and crew teams and role model for younger students, Hayley Petit came from a family where helping people just came naturally.

"She was such a good, good person," Ford said. "The younger kids just worshipped the ground she walked on."

Petit, the president of the Hartford County Medical Association, is a noted specialist in diabetes and endocrinology and the medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain.

"It is a shocking day for everyone. It's just beyond anyone's understanding," said Larry Tanner, president and chief executive officer of the hospital.

Petit's wife, a nurse, was co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy, a private boarding school.

"It's just a very difficult day here," said Philip Moore, director of communications for the school. "She was very good at educating kids about good health, not just taking care of them when they are not feeling well."

The Rev. Ronald A. Rising, a neighbor, said he had known the family for more than 10 years.

"They're just a lovely family," he said. "It's just awful to think it would happen to a family like that in this community. You don't think about those things happening."

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