Local News

Chapel Hill woman sends message to sister's killer

Posted December 2, 2010 9:06 p.m. EST

— A Chapel Hill woman sent a video message to the man convicted of murdering her sister and two nieces in a Connecticut home invasion. 

"I hate that it took my sister and her daughters to pay with their lives to stop you in your tracks," Cindy Hawke-Renn said. "Every time I so much as see the word 'sister' written, I swallow past the hard lump in my throat." 

Hawke-Renn's sister Jennifer Hawke-Petit was killed in the July 2007 home invasion.

Steven Hayes, one of the men accused in the crime, was sentenced to death in November. 

Authorities said Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky broke into the family’s house, beat Dr. William Petit and forced his wife to withdraw money from a bank while the rest of her family remained under hostage at home. Hayes then sexually assaulted and strangled her, authorities said.

Komisarjevsky is charged with sexually assaulting their 11-year-old daughter, Michaela. He has blamed Hayes for escalating the crime.

Michaela and her 17-year-old sister, Hayley, were tied to their beds and had gasoline poured on or around them before the men set the house on fire, according to testimony. The girls died of smoke inhalation.

Petit was able to escape.

Judge Jon Blue imposed the sentence on Thursday. 

"This is a terrible sentence, but is, in truth, a sentence you wrote for yourself in flames," Blue said.

Komisarjevsky's trial is expected to start next year.