'Cheshire Murders': HBO Documentary Questions Case's Handling

Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 11:39 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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"The Cheshire Murders," the upcoming HBO documentary about the brutal deaths of a Connecticut woman and her two children during a home invasion in 2007, renews questions about whether local police mishandled the brutal crime and subsequent investigation.

The documentary, which will air Monday, recounts the death of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and daughters Michaela and Hayley. The men badly beat William Petit, Hawke-Petit's husband, but he managed to escape. Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were caught shortly after they allegedly started a fire in the Petit's home and are now on death row in Connecticut, according to the Washington Post.

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Cindy Renn, Jennifer Hawke-Petit's sister, has long criticized the Cheshire Police Department for how they handled the situation and the subsequent investigation, the Hartford Courant reported. 

One of the men forced Hawke-Petit to the bank to withdraw $15,000 for the perpetrators. Hawke-Petit alerted a teller about the home invasion and the men. The teller called 911 as soon as Hawke-Petit left the bank.

Dispatch tapes reveal that police initially casted doubt on the teller's story and declined to call in a hostage negotiator.

"Nobody in that department ever looked at what they did or didn't do right or wrong,'' Renn told The Courant."Admit when you make mistakes and do better the next time and save people's lives."

Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner told Buzzfeed local law enforcement was nervous about the documentary as they dug into dispatch reports and public records. 

"We started to realize there were many places along the way in which the crime could have never happened," Davis said they started to gather information shortly after the murders. "The whole state of Connecticut went into a panic."

The documentary also takes a closer look at Hayes and Komisarjevsky, attempting to find a motive, according to the Washington Post.

"It’s clear that we live in a hyper-media era, in which a quest for knowledge is easily confused with an act of glamorizing criminals," the Washington Post's Hank Stuever wrote. "'The Cheshire Murders' is proof that such forms of documentary journalism are vital to our understanding of who we are — who we all are, even the worst among us."

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