Timeline fuzzy on Cheshire killings

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Petit murders in Cheshire is the seemingly slow response of local police.

Part of the reason there’s such rampant speculation that the police botched the job – and perhaps lost the chance to save three lives – is that authorities are inexcusably withholding key information, including 911 calls, dispatch records, police log books and surveillance tapes. Since they have the suspects in custody, and nobody appears to think they had any outside help, there’s no reason to hold back such crucial stuff except to protect the police.

I’ve tried to put the timeline together as best I could from stories that have been published so far.

Deb Biggins, a Cheshire resident, told The New Haven Register on July 27 that she saw Jennifer Hawke-Petit enter the Bank of America branch at Maplecroft Plaza about 9:30 a.m.

“She looked taut, tense and very pale,” said Deb Biggins, a town resident who was opening a new account at the branch when Hawke-Petit entered and withdrew $15,000.

“After she saw Hawke-Petit leave the branch unaccompanied a few minutes after 9:30 a.m., Biggins saw the teller who waited on her leave her post carrying a piece of paper,” according to the story.
“Minutes later, police arrived at the bank, she said, and left a short time later,” the New Haven paper reported.

We don’t know for sure whether the police sent officers to both the bank and the Petit house at the same time. They may have gone to the bank first and then to the house. Stories conflict on the point, though a state police spokesman said officers initially went to both locations.

We also don’t know for sure what the note said that Hawke-Petit gave the teller. The wording would make a difference in the appropriate response, certainly.

In any case, we know from multiple sources that the fire department in town got a call at 10 a.m. from officers arriving at the Petit house.So what’s uncertain is what happened between, say, 9:35 a.m. and 10 a.m.

We know that Hawke-Petit returned home, which is about 8 minutes from the bank.

Between 9:40 a.m. and a few minutes before 10 a.m., the deadly duo strangled Hawke-Petit, set the house on fire (and perhaps poured the gasoline around first) and raced out of the place just after police began arriving.

We know that the first officer to respond heard one or both of the girls screaming as the flames rose inside.

According to The New York Times, State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance said the first police officer to arrive at the Petit house saw that it was on fire and saw two men trying to flee in a car. When the officer tried to block the men, they rammed his police cruiser, Vance said. The officer then called for help, and fellow members of the Cheshire Police Department positioned two more police cars nose-to-nose as a barricade a few houses away, The Times reported.

“A neighbor, Anton Rao, an optometrist who described himself as a close friend of the Petits’, said the two men drove into the police barricade at close to 60 miles per hour, and crashed through it before their car broke down and came to a halt,” according to The Times.

What’s interesting about that is that pictures clearly show the police cars were parked to block the road – and no officers were injured. So they had already stopped and gotten out of the way before the two thugs crashed into the cars.

Tyhe New York Post said that Vance describd a scene in which the two men ran from the house, jumped into Petit’s SUV and “tore out of the driveway and sped off, but almost immediately rammed into two police cars hidden around a corner.”

What were the police cars doing “hidden around a corner?”

That kind of makes me think they had set up a perimeter before moving in at all, time that may have doomed the Petit family, sort of like the police at Columbine in 1999 who didn’t go storm into the school in time to save anyone.

But, to be fair, it’s also possible the police did nothing wrong.

What’s alarming to me is that the information the public needs to make a decision remains secret, for no reason that makes any sense.

Give us the facts. Release everything.

No matter what’s eventually made clear, the one sure thing is that a great evil was perpetrated in Cheshire by two dirtballs who aren’t worth the air they breathe.

It’s terrifying to realize, as we are so often forced to do, that we live in a world with all too many sick, crazy, evil people who commit unspeakable atrocities. And the police, however perfect they are, can never stop them all.




Filed under Cheshire, Cheshire murder, crime, News, Petit, Public safety

54 responses to “Timeline fuzzy on Cheshire killings

  1. Got to thinking more about this…. Do you suppose the Cheshire police cordoned off the area and were just waiting for either a SWAT team or the State Police to show up to handle the situation? That kind of makes sense if they didn’t realize the urgency of taking action. They could have been acting on State Police advice, too, which would make it even more likely that everyone would clam up about what really happened.

  2. You are right, we need to see all the facts, whdad. I hope the entire timeline is published, and with it some explanation of what Chesire PD’s response policy is. This is public information and I’m sure that the Courant is out there demanding it through freedom of information requests. If Chesire PD did something wrong, I’m sure the details will come out. Meanwhile, all this provisional blame best not hinder the prosecution’s ability to put the two filthy creeps to death.

    Sacking a police dispatcher or administrator won’t be a substitute for the real justice that should be handed out. I hope nothing muddy’s the water until their appeal is lost.

  3. The Courant today makes it clear that police were outside the home for at least 20 minutes before the men fled. It just makes the sting worse, knowing that a mother and two beautiful girls died while officers watched the house, not knowing what was happening inside.

  4. Mike

    Hindsight is great, but in a hostage situation, the last thing the police should do is just come busting into a house, guns blazing. If they did that and the family was still killed, people would be blaming the police for escalating the incident. Recall in WH, in the Officer McDermott killing – they thought there was a hostage situation with an armed and dangerous person. They cordoned off the area for hours, locked down nearby Conard, (unintentionally forgot to lock down nearby St. Helena’s, where CCD classes were being held) and planned out a proper, and safe, response. In the end, it didn’t matter. But cut the Cheshire PD some slack until such time as information arises that they failed to follow protocol or were somehow negligent in their response.

  5. My complaint is not so much what they did as the secrecy surrounding it. One normally keeps secrets to hide something.
    But it is also possible that protocols are wrong or that the police failed to follow the procedure the situation called for.
    We need answers, not mindless defense of the police.

  6. Mike

    Whoa – “mindless defense of police”? Is that referring to my post? I said cut them some slack until information comes out that they were, in fact, wrong.

  7. Not you, Mike. But I’ve heard many, many people who are willing to trust the police despite the official silence about what happened.

  8. New to WH

    The slow (although that is a relative term) release of information to the public is not at all mindless — the state has a capital murder case to build against these guys. The wrong public statement, or any inconsistency in public statements, by any party could undermine the case. All the facts will come out in time, but what is more important: the public getting the facts at internet speed, or protecting the case against these monsters?



  10. Releasing 911 tapes, log books, etc. won’t jeopardize any case. Those items are what they are. Time won’t change them.

  11. New to WH

    You can’t just release 911 tapes. There are privacy rights of those involved that have to be considered. You seem to believe for some reason that information related to the case is being withheld to protect the officers involved. I guess my view is that the information you want will come out in time; I’d rather the police focus on helping the state prepare its case then rush to publicly release the information you want. What will that serve at this point anyway, other than to satisfy the public’s curiosity?
    If police protocols or training need to be changed or the officers involved mishandled the situation (all of which are certainly possible), that will come out in time. Sadly, this tragedy is with us for the long haul — it is not as though giving the state time to process all the evidence first is going to change that.

    • barretts

      WRONG IDIOT! If the trial is over all 911 tapes are available to the pres, public etc

      • Jake

        if they werent incriminating they would release the info. If you watch the documentary it is basically a police screw up. They heard the girls screaming and what waiting for the Fire Department. They should have stopped the car and made there presence known at the house at least not hide. Its funny when you see 50 swat officers in riot gear after everything is over. What are they doing?

  12. 911 tapes are public information. They are freely available unless needed for an active investigation, which is the claim used for withholding these. There are no privacy rights involved.

  13. joe

    its so sad that a police officer standing outside this home and hearing a 11 year screaming for her life not do a dam thing waiting around for 20 + mins, only if he would have done the very least and used a bull horn or sound of his siren then these scum shit bags would have known it was all over, how can any one cop or not just silantly just stand there listening to this torture of a young girl ?

  14. WH Alum

    We know at some point a police officer could hear someone screaming… I can’t believe for one minute that the first cop on the scene stood around listening to her scream for 20 minutes. I have yet to read evidence to support that opinion.


    The ignorance of responses is dumbfounding… What information has been released saying anyone heard screams. Nothing! Further, we the public do have a right to know, however, all information will be released as needed. Not when we feel we need to know. As far as responses, all indications are this was a hostage situation, and it appears to be handled as such.
    Blame is a normal reaction to a tragic event, keep it with who is to blame, not the Police.

  16. joe

    from a neibor near the petit home knows one of the fire fighters that was at the scene and was prevented from entering the home by police after the 20 +mins had pass when the fire started this jackass cop told the fire fighter it might not be safe they all retreated back to a police line 2 blocks back , no warnings, no bull horn, no sirens i know proceders may be to set perimiters but when you know there is a family in the home and you hear a girl screaming you do not ignore it and back off by making it known by the police that they ehere there had 100% saved there lives would have been a hostage stanoff if any not a cover up murder this info is all fact because its comming from witnesess at the scene even as a bystaneder something more would have been done, policys need the change how the police act in the type of cases you don,t hide and wait for a street shoot out as a cop you take risk if you can,t handle or your total coward/whimp the police career is not for you you paid to save seave and protect it would not have taken much to save there lives ! also per a neibors report they seen police in the rear yard of the home before the fire started while they where set fire to with gasoline so these cops had every opertunity to let it be known that they where there, this same thing that happened at collumbine school lack of responce just one big circus act this is a repetitive problem with our police very poor training in real life , yes the scum criminals are to blame and the half ass connecticut justice with a jack ass DA and porole board-oh sorry the porole let them and help them commit another even more horific chrime board. get rid off all these f-ing morons running our gov. you can not say any more that this does not happen in small towns like ours get use to it violant crime is out of control and is escolating at a alarming rate the f-ing prison system need to be changed from the from the crime training camp it is, maybe hard labor camps may change things,



  18. joe

    well i,m shure you would have acted much diferent if this where your girls screaming for there lives not just f-ing silanly waiting around for back up !

  19. joe

    it sounds like your one of these moron cops, why don,t you do your comunity a faver and turn in your badge or take a desk job we don,t need cowards responding felonie calls , why have an alarm on your home when you know a cop like this may be standing around that can not make a dicision what to do even tou he hears !!! a girl screaming for her life !

  20. WH Alum

    Can you please make an attempt to spell check… ? You keep calling everyone else a moron and your posts are hardly readable.

  21. joe

    sorry cell phone key pad, i,m refering to the cop at the scene giving a green light to the scumbag criminals by not letting it be known the the cops where there at the scene !! cop or not any one whould have made some kind of noise? 20 +mins ??? silant while a girl screams for hear life and yes the fire dept was pulled back ? why ??? the scum criminals where able to leave becouse the cops also pulled back

  22. WH Alum

    Understandable then, but it certainly has an effect on how your point comes across.


    joe….. zimmitti…….. (changing id does not change your tone)
    your rants are due to an obvious dislike for police??? reason for that?? bad experience??
    you speak out of ignorance listening only to the “rumor” of what happened.
    Read up on Police procedure then speak intelligently on the issue. Please educate us all on proper procedure for dealing with a Hostage Situation, which again is all that reports are indicating police had. You have no idea about what those officers dealt with or are dealing with. You are a sheep, standing on the sidelines pointing fingers. This will be my last entry as I can not debate a woefully ignorant victim of rumors. And learn how to type this is a blog not an IM dating site

  24. cheshireite

    Its a shame we need to point fingers when everyone is hurting! Bless the Petits and the Fire and Police Personnel who did all they can for our town. Three lives were lost. If the bad guys got away there is no knowing how many more there would be.

  25. Christine

    My husband and I lived in Old Saybrook and Westbrook, Ct. back in the early 70’s. We have many fond memories and much love of the area. This is why I am writing.

    I am such sickened by this atrocious and very insane act of such horror. When I first read about what happened I felt such sick to my stomach, and I’ve cried about this. We’re praying for Dr. Petit, and for the Hawke family, too.

    Such an act of brutal murder is just beyond our comprehension. Dr. Petit stated at their memorial service to create acts of kindness, love, understanding, and goodness.


  26. David Jones

    On this blog I’ve seen criticisms of Dr. Petit, the police, and the fire dept. How irresponsible!!!

    Once all the facts are known we may find legitimate reasons to be critical, but until then please show a little restraint, a little decency.

    And this constant name calling, I sometimes feel I’m reading the journal of a fifth grader.

  27. Fred Garvin

    The normal protocol for a hostage situation, and that is likely what the Cheshire police thought they had, is to set up a perimeter, secure the scene and wait for the specially trained response team. That team, often referred to as SWAT, has hostage negotiators and heavily armed officers.

    The horror that unfolded inside the Petit home shocked everyone. I’m sure the officers at the scene, if they’d known what was going on, would have done all they could.

    I’m not a cop and I’ve never played one on TV. But I know a few and they’ve told me the early signs indicate the Cheshire police followed protocol.

    As more information emerges, we’ll, of course, have a better picture of all that.

  28. Pat

    I have police officers in my circle of friends and all they kept saying was they “hoped they sent them to the bank AND house at the same time”. What happened at the house will be brought up later, but nothing will bring the Petit’s back and that’s a civil suit not criminal. Although, someone told me the death’s might not be on the criminals shoulders entirely if they can really prove the police were late. That didn’t seem right but I am not a lawyer.

  29. I have a few friends who called the police when their home was broken into while they were in it. The police did not respond to a burglary-in-progress. They, for some reason, thought it had already happened. When I’ve had to call the police for various reasons, they’ve never responded any faster than 45 minutes. We don’t know all of the details about the Petit case, and shouldn’t if we want justice to be expedient; slow police response time is expected for many people, and it’d be strange to think that Cheshire should be served any quicker than other locations.

  30. Anyone know when the trial really starts?

  31. Elmwoodian

    I have no cops in my family or circle of friends, but have had great experiences with WHPD. The couple times that I have called WHPD, they have been all over it, literally, within minutes. I had a parked car get hit in front of my house and two cruisers were there in under 5 minutes. I called in a noise complaint once and three cruisers showed up (I kinda felt bad) in under 10 minutes. And some middle school kids had a fight near our house and again, under 5 five minutes the PD was there. I even called in a report of a dog loose once and they were there in under 15. I know that this is anecdotal evidence, but it was multiple separate instances of quick response times. My confidence in the WHPD is high; that is one darn fine police force. I can’t say that the same thing wouldn’t have happened here as happened in Cheshire, but I can say that I would trust that they would do everything that they could to ensure the safety of both the victims and the officers.

  32. WH Alum

    After a conversation with a former state SWAT officer – FIRST OF ALL POLICE OFFICERS CAN NOT ORDER A FIREOFFICER OFF A FIRE SCENE. He told me that yes, police officers can secure an area and tell fire officials to hold back.

    Elmwoodian – I have to agree with you. I was babysitting many years ago and called 911 because of a noise in the house. WH Police were there in about 10 minutes while I waited on the phone with the 911 operator. Same for fire – we called the routine line, not 911, when our CO detector was going off – ladders, police, and EMT were there in minutes. Now that’s something I’ll pay my WH taxes for – when I compare to a friend in Farmington losing his life in a house fire while the volunteer fire guys were assembled.

  33. Adam

    Re: Pat.

    Just to clear up any confusion, whether or not the police were “late” (however that very relative word can be defined in this context) in responding, both criminal and civil liability for the deaths of those poor people will fall entirely and squarely on the shoulders of those two scumbags – who I am sure we all hope will very soon have an appointment with a sealed-off room, and bed, and a needle.

    My prayers for Mr. Petit and his family.

  34. I Love West Hartford

    An Email I received:

    Dear friends, colleagues, and clients:

    As some of you may know, the recent tragedy in Cheshire, CT, occurred in our neighborhood only 5 houses from ours. In remembrance of the Petit family and in support of the sole survivor, Dr. Petit, please help petition for the “3 strikes and you’re out” law in Connecticut. Read and sign the petition, then, PLEASE, forward this to everyone in your address book.


    Thank you.

    Tom and Dyan Dupont

    Dupont Learning

  35. In this case, it should be one strike and your fried.

  36. PatM

    It’s now almost a month and still no details from the police on what went wrong on their end. If everything had worked out, they would have shared 911 tapes and anything else to show how effective the response was. They screwed up and now they are covering up. In addition to 2 well deserved executions, there should be several high level firings for the cover up within the police department.

  37. Ron

    One problem was police media control after the event. Lots of congrats and “heroe” calling went around which I thought inappropriate and insensitive. Why not equal energy being invested in telling the public exactly what happened and how?

    Police calim to have followed “protocol”, that they had “ambiguous” information, “didn’t know what they were getting in to” etc. However, look at it logically. The police were concerned enough with the gravity of the situation that they called in SWAT. Therefore, if victims were being held against their will and under duress, what, exactly, does protocol demand that you do in such a situation?

    If you’re a cop, you have to assume the worst possible scenario; someone could be getting their throat slashed while you are peeking through the bushes and ‘waiting.’ On the other hand, no one’s expecting the police to barge or storm the house—that’s being misreported in the press. However, the police—in lieu of any other credible information and assuming the worst—could and should have at the very minimum ANNOUNCED their presence. Period. This would have the intention of impeding or at least interrupting a potentially serious crime in progress, and you didn’t have to know exactly what the crime was before announcing your presence.

    This isn’t one of those “hindsight is 2020” deals. It’s plain common sense. Don’t you think?

    And because the police obviously can’t explain away that lack of common sense, the public is not receiving satisfying information. And like the Columbine incident, public doubt will only get worse before it gets better.

  38. Jimbeau


    I think you’ve figured it out. We live out here in Jefferson County Colorado, and did when Columbine came down. The recriminations flew for several years, and the sheriff lost his job over it, but we won’t let our guys stand around whistling Dixie while the perps are at it.

    You saw Platte Canyon. The perp was not allowed to just have at it. While it’s tragic we didn’t get Emily out too. 1/2 is better than 0/3, which is what these guys scored by waiting. If the doc hadn’t come to, and hobbled out, he’d be dead too.

  39. Jimbeau

    There’s no need to sack anyone. They’ll never let something like this happen again, trust me. They’ll be the best people you could ever have the rest of their lives!

  40. Jimbeau


    You figured it out!

  41. AaronStarwars

    Hey. When it comes to these situations police are a joke. Police tend to act like chickens when things like this occor they just bunch up and make lots of noise. As we saw at virginia tech… police just made a huge scene like they are about to fight WW3 outside and waited quit a while before going in. It was also pointed out on a earlier comment about columbine… same thing! The police need to be held accountable for this. They shouldnt sit around like that…. its obvious they were sitting outside as the mom and her daughters were set ablaze. It gets me so angry… these 2 cowards should atleast have been thrown back into the burning home.

  42. Butch Klapperschlange

    I lived there long ago, moved away over forty years ago, and never knew the victims. It’s another case of self-defense being a personal responsibility in our society (if you want to call it a society). The police are set up only to react, whether expeditiously or otherwise.
    Keep y0ur doors locked, install a security system, and equip yourself with superior firepower, because the courts won’t do your corpse(s) any good.
    Oh, was that politically too incorrect?

  43. Cheshirecat

    When is the trial date?

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  45. John

    ………..my personal belief here is that I still can’t fathom why she went back in the car with him. Call 911 from the bank.

  46. Combat Veteran

    The problem is our criminal juctice system does not have the guts to carry out cruel and lethal death sentences on monsters like Hayes and Scumjersky.These two losers are not only stupid they are evil.They should be waterboarded for days on end then beaten with baseballbats and then Hang em high on the county courthouse lawn for all cowards and trash that commit these crimes to see what will happen to them when they murder people.If our prisons were run like a military prison like Fort leavenworth Ks where they shoot you if you get out of line we would not have so many convicts wanting to return.

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  49. These two losers are not only stupid they are evil.They should be waterboarded for days on end then beaten with baseballbats and then Hang em high on the county courthouse lawn for all cowards and trash that commit these crimes to see what will happen to them when they murder

  50. Lorman Wheless

    If the cops indeed did negligence, get their names. Post their names and police department ID. Every **individual** cop should be held individually accountable.

  51. barretts

    They could have arrived at the bank gotten Intel from Mrs. Petit and the criminal she was with and rescued her daughters and husband! They didn’t want to get hurt. They were AFFRAID!

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