A Connecticut Nightmare
Steven Hayes was a drug addict. Joshua Komisarjevsky might compare burglary to drugs, but Hayes was hooked on the real thing. He'd been arrested 26 times, living his adult life since 1980 in and out of prison. The charges included burglary, weapons possession, narcotics possession, and larceny. The thread running through many of these arrests was Steven Hayes's compulsion for drugs.
Five times Hayes had been given community release, and five times he had failed. In 1996, his release to a halfway house was initially successful. He was working at a restaurant almost 70 hours per week to save money for a car. Just when he had enough money to go for a test drive, he told police, he ran into a prostitute he knew who offered him crack cocaine. He took one hit and soon his savings were gone, he was living in an abandoned building and was breaking into cars to get money for more crack. "All I cared about was getting high," Hayes said.
Unlike Joshua Komisarjevsky's, Steven Hayes's crimes did not involve reconnaissance or stealthy maneuvering. His latest arrest before the deaths of the Petit family was in 2003, at a parking lot where Hayes had used a rock to bash the window of a car to get a purse that was inside. He had been smoking crack.
Hayes was sentenced to five years in prison for the parking lot burglary, which would have placed his release date in 2008—after the tragedy in Cheshire. He had a dismal record of rehabilitation and was not expecting to get out early. So it was a surprise in 2006 when he was released from prison to go to a Hartford halfway house. Hayes told a friend "I don't know how the hell they let me out of jail, but I wasn't going to say 'no.'"
It was at a Hartford halfway house that Hayes, stocky and short, described as outgoing and funny, met Joshua Komisarjevsky, thin and tall, called quiet and weird. A fellow convict at the house puzzled to a reporter, "I don't know why they clicked." But clicked they did—like a pair of handcuffs.