A Connecticut death row inmate who murdered and raped a mother and her daughters has revealed how he “just snapped” in his first jailhouse interview, six years after the offence.
Steven Hayes says he now spends his days pacing his cell with "guilt, shame and remorse.” He claims that no one was supposed to get hurt during the home invasion.
Hayes was sentenced to death on December 2, 2010. He was found guilty on 16 out of 17 counts related to the home invasion murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, age 48, and her daughters Hayley Petit, 17, and Michaela Petit, 11.
"To this day, I don't know why it happened," the 50-year-old father of two said. "I just wanted money. That's all I was looking for."
"It took a year before I could even remember what happened in those last few minutes," Hayes told the New Haven Register. "I was told it was rage and stress or something. I just know that for a couple of minutes I became somebody else."
Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Michaela and Hayley, were found dead on July 23, 2007 after Hawke-Petit and her youngest were first raped by Hayes and his accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky.
Hawke-Petit’s husband, Dr. William Petit Jr, barely survived the incident after being beaten up with a baseball bat, gagged and tied up in his basement.
It wasn’t supposed to end that way Hayes claims, still he says: "I can't blame anybody but myself for the decisions that I made."
He says he needed “quick money” so he joined forces with Komisarjevsky, now 30, who spotted Hawke-Petit and her daughter Michaela buying groceries at a Cheshire convenience store on July 22.
After following them home, the thugs dragged Petit into the home's basement before they forced Hawke-Petit to drive to a bank where she withdrew $15,000, while his accomplice held the family hostage.
"At that point, we were just going to leave. Nobody was going to get hurt - at least not by me," he said.
But he says that all changed when they got back to house and learned that Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted the 11-year-old.
He claims his accomplice, who is also on death row, insisted they had to kill the whole family.
"I started to lose it," Hayes said. "Then I looked out the window and saw an unmarked police car. And I just snapped."
Next he raped and strangled Hawke-Petit before the house and the girls were set fire to.
Hayes claims he did not light the flame.
The pair were then captured by police as they attempted to flee the burning home.
Asked what he would say to Petit, who was the only family member to survive the home invasion, he acknowledged he is unable to earn his forgiveness.
"I don't know if there's anything I could say. I definitely feel sorry but that doesn't change things. I'd try to answer his questions," he told the paper. "I don't deserve to live," he said. "I don't want to live."
He claims he is being mistreated by prison guards at the Northern Correctional Institution.
"Nobody's supposed to be treated the way we're treated here. I was sentenced to death, not psychological torment," he said of what he claims are denials to basic human needs.
Hayes has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in which he claims he is being denied medical care and this regular "harassment and psychological torture" by jailers.
He is seeking $500,000 in damages.