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Conn. cops defend response to brutal '07 murders

The home invasion ended with the torture, rape and killing of a woman and her two daughters

By Andrea Canning and Lee Kamlet

CHESHIRE, Conn. — A Cheshire, Conn., police captain today defended the department's response at the scene of a home invasion that ended with the torture, rape and killing of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela,11, in 2007.

Capt. Robert Vignola acknowledged that a half-hour passed between the time police first learned of the break-in, and the time they saw the two accused murderers, Steven Hayes, 47, and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 30, run out of the house, get into the Petit's car, and try to escape. It was only then that police noticed the house was on fire.

Vignola said there was no sign of activity inside when police arrived, and that they set up a perimeter around the Petit house, in accordance with standard procedure. He said that if he had known what was going on inside, "I would have been the first one through that door," The Associated Press reported.

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