Tuesday, July 23, 2013

HBO examines "The Cheshire Murders" in July 2007 (six years ago)

On Monday, July 22, 2013, HBO aired its disturbing journalistic documentary, “The Cheshire Murders”, by Kate Davis.  This two hour film was an examination of the home invasion of a doctor’s home in Cheshire CT before dawn on a Monday morning,  July 23, 2007.  Dr. William Petit, although badly injured, escaped and survived, but wife Jennifer and two daughters, both assaulted, died in the arson fire.
The family was apparently deliberately targeted after one of the suspects saw Jennnifer in a supermarket and followed her home and plotted an attack.  The two perpetrators were Stephen Hayes, 44, and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, both white. 
The film focuses a lot on the apparently slow and ineffective response by the Cheshire Police Department, which was unable to stop the attack after a bank teller contacted them after Jennifer was kidnapped and forced to withdraw money early Monday morning. 
The film probes inconclusively into the psyche of both psychopathic perpetrators.  Apparently they had intended a robbery, and the murder and arson occurred to cover up DNA evidence (although that would not explain the assaults).  Both men were abused in childhood.  The film focused particularly on the younger suspect, Josh, who was portrayed as physically attractive (disturbing), and artistically talented, also little known.  (The same has been said recently in Rolling Stone about music and the older Tsarnaev brother).  Both suspects sought heterosexual outlets, but Josh had been assaulted and the preached to about the supposed evil of homosexuality as a boy, as well as presented a rather simplistic idea of religious morality.   
Toward the end, the film explores both the grief in the town, and then examines the death penalty.  Life in solitary confinement might even be worse punishment.
Connecticut has since repealed the death penalty, but intends to execute both convicts in this horrific case.
The HBO site for the film is here.

The case seems almost like an example of domestic terrorism, and seems not to have much of a motivation.  It would be logical for HBO to follow up with documentaries about Aurora and Sandy Hook.  But at the time, this was one of the most horrific home domestic rampages ever committed.  

Advocates of Second Amendment rights will want to speculate whether Petit could have stopped the attack at its inception had he been armed.  That's possible, but this is very much a two-sided argument.  I recall (from the media, perhaps CNN) a specific comment by defendant "Josh", not reported in the film, that he (the suspect) wanted to test the homeowner's "courage".  That sounds perverse, and certainly exhibits a particularly disturbing chain of "logic" but is common in authoritarian cultures.  The defendants seemed to exhibit a particular contempt of "rich" people whom they saw as "luckier" than them, with a ferocity that resembles domestic terrorism.  They did not seem to realize how easily they would get caught, even by an less than optimal local police department.  

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