|Front row: Adam Hardman, Michael, Trudi and Kaci Hardman.
Back row: Aaron Hardman, Dakota Watson, Andrew Harman, Hunter Watson
“We must lift each other up during this difficult time,” stated Terrell Independent School District Superintendent Michael French.
The Hardman family had always talked about taking their blended family to Disney World and on Nov 19 2014, they and their six children left their Terrell TX home sometime after 7 pm headed to Florida. At approximately 10:45 pm their 2005 Chevy Tahoe crashed on Interstate 20 just west of Calhoun LA and five members of the family were dead.
The police report that they believe the driver, sixteen year old Andrew Hardman apparently fell asleep at the wheel and the Tahoe veered to the left. He then overcorrected the vehicle to the right and the SUV rolled over, ejecting six people who were not wearing seatbelts. Five of the Hardman family were pronounced dead at the scene. The dead were identified as Michael and Trudi Hardman, Dakota Watson, 15, Adam Hardman, 7 and Kaci Hardman, 4. Andrew was wearing a seatbelt and only suffered minor injuries while Aaron Hardman, 12 is in critical condition. Hunter Watson also suffered only minor injuries and was released from the hospital the next day.
Michael and Trudi married five years ago and brought their children from previous marriages together. Kaci was the youngest and the only child that they had together as a couple. Michael taught second grade in the TISD and had been employed by them for two years. He also coached Little League baseball and is said to never turn a kid away from participating. Trudi was a kindergarten teacher at Willis Point Primary School and had worked for the WPISD for ten years. The couple had been planning the trip for the past nine months and were excited to be able to take all six of their children there.
Andrew has been charged with reckless operation of a vehicle and the police do not believe that he was impaired even though they did take a sample for a toxicology test. They have stated that they believe that he may have just fallen asleep while driving. They did add that they believe that more of the family could have survived the accident if they had been wearing seat belts as required by law in both Texas and Louisiana. I do believe that it probably was just an accident due to to inexperience but the damage it may have caused could last a lifetime.
There has been a go fund me site set up to help with expenses for the surviving children. No funeral arrangements have been announced as of yet.
Related story on this blog:
Update Nov 22 2014:
The police have stated that Andrew had to be charged with a motor vehicle infraction as a point of law but he has only been charged with the misdemeanor of careless operation. This charge means that he would only be facing a small fine and a mark on his newly acquired driver’s license. They added that there is a very good chance that the charge will be dropped in the future since he has certainly suffered more than any punishment could do for what looks to be just an accident.
There has not been any announcement as to funeral arrangements but people in Wills Point have gathered to remember the five who died in the accident.
Update Nov 23 2014:
The only arrangements that have been planned as of this date is a memorial sometime after Thanksgiving.
Update Nov 24 2014:
The memorial service for the Hardman family has been set for Wednesday Nov 26 2014. It will be held at the Lakeshore Church, 5575 Highway 205 in Rockwall. The family will begin receiving friends at 10 am that morning.
The district attorney in Louisiana has stated that all charges against Andrew have been dismissed. Aaron is still reported to be in critical condition but stable at Shreveport Hospital in LA at this time.
The three of them had spent Labor Day, September 3 2007, fishing without any luck. They were headed back to the boatlaunch near Mine Falls, on the Nashua River NH, when their luck suddenly changed.
Anthony Grauslys, 40 of Hudson NH, his 9 year-old son, Ash and Steve Summers, their neighbor hadn’t caught a thing all day until Graulys’s line snagged something. He initially had thought a pickerel had grabbed his hook and rubber worm and he fought it up to the boat. It only took one look he said, to realize he hadn’t caught a prize-winning fish.
“We’re city cops. We don’t know what to do with these things,” stated Lt Bruce Hansen.
Grauslys stated that he realized he had dragged in an alligator and he knew that he could just release it again, since no one would probably want an alligator hanging around. Him and his fishing crew headed for the dock with the alligator fighting the whole way. By the time they had made it to the dock, three Nashua police officers had arrived put the alligator in a large utility box, half filled with water.
The state Fish and Game conservation officer, David Eskeland, stated that the 18 inch, approximately 1 year-old, american alligator is now safe in a Massachusetts facility that handles reptiles. He stated that it would not have survived the winter months and temperatures if it had stayed in the river. They could only guess that it had possibly outgrown someone’s bathtub and that was why it was dumped in the river.
Grauslys didn’t have to turn the alligator over to Eskeland, it is legal for New Hampshire residents to own an alligator. I’m sure that his neighbors wouldn’t be that happy to see him taking it out for a “daily walk” though.
It began with the adoption of a 4 month old brussels griffon mixed puppy from the Mutts and Moms adoption agency. By October 16 2007, it became a national media story.
When a representitive from the adoption agency called Ellen DeGeneres to check on Iggy’s welfare, she found out that the pup had been given to Ellen’s hairdresser. That had been in violation of the contract that Portia de Rossi had signed when adopting the puppy, which stated that the dog had to be returned to the agency.
Iggy wasn’t dumped on the street but had been given to a family with two young girls, ages 10 & 12 and had been taken care of very well. This had happened after Ellen had paid approximately $3,000 in vet bills, neutering and training of the pup and he still didn’t get along well with her cats.
It seems that Ellen had been told to immediately return the dog to the agency or they would go and seize the dog. That is exactly what a representitive of Moms and Mutts did, with police presence, she removed the dog from the home and children because of a violation of the contract. Ellen pleaded for the return of Iggy to the children, the agency stated that they would make sure that the children didn’t receive the dog and the situation spun out of control.
Ellen was visably upset about the events, the owner of Moms and Mutts was as well. Marina Batkis, a co-owner of the rescue group, had stated that they “may” have considered the new placement if Ellen had asked them to do so before putting the puppy there. I think that is a very large “maybe” on their part, since they state the agency has a rule barring placement of small dogs with families with children under the age of 14.
Iggy it is now reported, has been placed with another family, which is rather nice that the agency could rush him out the door that quickly during this dispute. It has also been reported that Iggy would not be returned to Ellen because her name had not been added to the microchip he has. That seems a bit of a double standard, the agency states they have a contract and follow it to the letter but they use a technocality to claim Ellen can’t prove the puppy is hers?
My final thoughts……… if this agency has a policy of not adopting small dogs into families with children and they evidently monitor their placements militantly…… what happens when a couple adopts a small dog and two years later, has a baby? Does Moms and Mutts point to their policy in the contract and have police stand by as they yank the dog out of the home?
Ellen and Portia may well have broken the contract that Portia signed with Mutts and Moms, a contract that it seems now, that many pet adoption agencies have, Marina Batkis’s sobbing on television has done little for me to believe that she had Iggy’s best interests at heart. She publically stated that there was no way that she would have placed Iggy back with Cheryl Mark’s family because of the publicity and the fact that there were “young” children in the home. That can be shown by how fast Mutts and Moms were to place Iggy with another family as soon as they had him back in their grasp.
What has been revealed though from “Iggy-gate” is that there are numerous pet adoption agencies out there, some with little more that the local governement’s approval to operate because their facilities meet certain standards. Those standards though often do not include how well trained they are in placing animals and most solicate donations for their “good” works.
The “Smoking Gun” posted several of the emails exchanged between both parties and while some may point to their relevance, I found little in them that excited me…….. Batkis evidently felt that not hearing an update for more than 30 days on the placement of one of their pups was excessive and I do wonder…….. does anyone who adopts a pet from Mutts and Moms have to send an update every two weeks or so for them to feel confident of the care their former charge is getting?
For a look at those emails, go here.
Update: November 13
“Iggy’s doing famously, very well and in a loving home,” stated Keith Fink.
It seems that Iggy is destined for some sort of fame at the moment, he is now being paraded on television to prove what a good job Moms and Mutts has done in placing Iggy after the tears and hate of last month. I had no doubt that they would find yet another family to care for the now 5 month-old pup and one that would allow them to exploit him as well.
What isn’t being addressed though is the policy that they have, one which many agencies it has been revealed has and specifically, their policy of not placing a dog in a house with small children. That alone would have most likely kept the agency from allowing Iggy to stay with Ellen’s friends, especially after it was publically stated that the would be no way that they would get the pup back.
I personally feel that the family who now has Iggy, who is doing famously and probably with the help of the couple thousand Ellen spent on training him, should be living quietly at home…. not paraded on “stage” by Fink, the lawyer for the agency.
“It’s such a shame, really. We all used to just love the peaceful quiet,” stated Carol Killian.
The, a 96 foot-tall wooden roller coaster, opened this past Labor Day weekend in suburban Houston TX and it seems the quiet is gone now. For 12 hours a day the Killian family has had their peace and quiet shattered.
The Killian’s, who built their weekend cottage facing the ocean in 1962, now listens to the squeks and rattles of the coaster and the screams of nearly 800 passengers and hour, twelve hours a day. This weekend, they were driven from their deck from the noise and Carol doesn’t believe that they will able to barbeque anymore.
The compact roller coaster was built on a one acre lot right next to the Killian’s cottage after they refused to sell their home to allow for it to be built on a larger parcel. Landry’s Seafood Restaurants Inc, had the ride built on the boardwalk in Kenmah, which they run as well. There was no public hearing to inform residents about the coaster but the city has no zoning and the coaster meets all the setback laws.
“As long as I live, it will not be sold to him,” stated Carol, referring to Landry’s President Tilman Fertitta.
There are those who sympathize with the Killian’s but in what is described as dying town, the ride is seen as a way to draw money back to the area. the fact that it is a new wooden coaster and in such a compact area also draws coaster riders.
As for the Killian’s who live directly beside the coaster, there are some benefits they may not have thought of……… think of the resale value of all the items that will be flung off the riders and into their yard. It could become a lucretive side business on the weekends at the shore. Or you could just learn to watch the water from inside, till you die.
It began late in the evening of July 22, 2007 and ended tragically on the morning of July 23 2007. In less than 24 hours, William Petit lost his family and two daughters lost their fathers. The trial for Steven Hayes, one of the alleged killers began on Sept 13 2010 and on Oct 5 2010, he had been found guilty of 16 of the 17 charges he had faced. Hayes had offered to plead guilty in exchange for life without parole before the trial had begun but that plea had been denied. Instead, Hayes was sentenced to death. Joshua Komisarjevsky went on trial on Sept 19 2011 and on Oct 13 2011, he was found guilty of all 17 charges he had faced. Komisarjevsky had also tried to plead in exchange for life without parole before trial, which was denied and he also was sentenced to death.
The Petit home invasion and murders was a brutal crime and the two trials only served to expose the brutality that had been perpetrated upon the Petit family. William was the only one to have survived the horror of the pair and it had to be terrible to learn through the trials, just what had happened to his family both before and after he had managed to escape his burning home that day.
“To this day I don’t know why it happened. I just wanted money. That’s all I was looking for,” stated Steven Hayes in an interview with the New Haven Register in 2013.
Hayes states that both he and Komisarjevsky had planned to just leave the house after he had returned with Jennifer Hawke-Petit, William’s wife and the $15,000 he had forced her to withdraw from the bank. When he returned, Komisarjevsky told him that he had sexually assaulted 11 year old Michaela, the Petit’s younger daughter. He then claimed that he started to lose it, which was then made worse by his spotting an unmarked police car outside the house. That is when he states that he snapped.
Hayes states that he doesn’t know he was thinking and what he did after he “snapped” was very unlike him. He has not wanted to discuss the actual crime but had admitted to sexually assaulting Jennifer. Both Hayes and Komisarjevsky blame each other for the escalation that culminated with them setting the house on fire and escaping only to crash into police cars parked nearby. Hayes has expressed his remorse for the horrific crimes and has stated that he wishes that the sentence was carried out quickly. Unfortunately, Connecticut has only managed to execute Michael Ross in 2005, the first since 1960. Connecticut currently has only 10 people on death row at the Northern Correctional Institute in Somers, including Robert Breton who has been there since Oct 27 1989.
Komisarjevsky evidently did not have the misgivings or remorse that Haynes now claims. When his trial began, William and other family members were prepared for some of the grisly testimony that would be presented and chose to leave the courtroom rather than listen to it again. His confession to police was even more shocking to listen to as his describes the details without pausing or mumbling with his monotone voice.
He began by giving a very detailed description of what he had done to William Petit. He told the police how they had gone into the basement and gotten a baseball bat which he would use on William. Komisarjevsky then stood behind Petit for 15-29 minutes, not wanting to hit him while Hayes watched out the window and kept motioning for him to hit Wtlliam and get it over with. He went on to describe finally hitting him and when he heard William scream, hit just kept hitting him until he backed off near the couch and quieted down.
Throughout his confession, Komisarjevsky blamed Hayes for instigating the mounting horror. He claimed that he was stunned and perplexed by Hayes’s suggestion that they take all the occupants of the house with them in their cars and leave the house burning behind them. Shortly afterwards, he claims that Hayes started ranting and raving about DNA and his using Hayes’s name in front of the victims. Komisarjevsky stated that he didn’t understand what Hayes’s problem was about DNA since he himself had been wearing gloves the whole time. He went on to explain that Hayes had decided that they had to kill everyone and burn the house, a plan that he didn’t agree with. Komisarjevsky stated that he was only there for the money and he was not a killer. He tried to make it sound as though he was trying to stick up for the Petit family even though he had already beaten William and had tied Michaela to her bed, taken partially nude pictures of her and assaulted her by then.
Whatever he may claim he felt about killing the family, it didn’t stop him from participating with Hayes in setting the house on fire before they both fled. Both Michaela and Hayley had been left alive and tied to their beds while Jennifer had been killed and left on the first floor. Both girls died of smoke inhalation, Michaela in her bed and Hayley had managed to free herself and was found at the top of the stairs. He doesn’t mention if they knew that William had freed himself and run from the basement for help. They were quickly captured after they crashed the Petit family car into police cars further down the block.
Hayes and Komisarjevsky both have left daughters behind while they sit on death row. Hayes’s daughter, Alicia was 15 years old when her mother told her about the horrific crime her father had just been arrested for. She had just returned from summer camp when her mother broke the news of her father’s arrest and she explained everything he was accused of doing then. Alicia’s parents had divorced when she was very young but she had continued to see her father every week for ice cream and movies. In 2013 she was serving in the Air Force overseas and she chose to participate in an HBO documentary “The Cheshire Murders” about the crime. She spoke about being bullied in school because of her father’s crime and that she had blamed herself for his actions for many years. She is currently working as a dialysis technician and studying to become a nurse. Alicia stated that she wishes she could tell William how sorry she is for her father’s actions.
Komisarjevski also has left a daughter behind while he sits on death row, as well as a long history of contact with the Connecticut legal systems. He had been on the DCF records from his childhood when both he and his sister were abused by Scott, an older foster brother in the home. He in turn, abused his sister for several years until she was 10 years old but she had testified in court that he was not a violent person. It was further stated that his mother Jude believed that her son could pray his illness away. Jude withdrew her son from Norton Elementary School in the fifth grade after he began throwing desks at a teacher he did not get along with. She felt the teacher was too strict with her son and decided to home school him.
Jude and Benedict had adopted Komisarjevsky when he was two weeks old and testimony in court had explained that there was a history of mental illness in his birth parents family history. His mother Jude claims that she did not know of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his brother Scott until he had been sentenced in 2002 for a string of burglaries. Whatever the case may be, Komisarjevski was already a troubled young man, a victim of abuse and a sexual predator. The string of burglaries that he was arrested for were not just simple break-ins. He stated that he enjoyed the rush he received from breaking in and creeping around people’s homes with night vision goggles, while they were sleeping inside. It was noted when he was sentenced to 9 years in prison and followed by 6 years of special probation for the 12 break-ins, that he was a criminal who was seeking a confrontation and a cold blooded predator.
Hayes on the other hand, had a long criminal history. He had a drug problem and had been arrested 26 times since 1980 and spent most of his adult life in and out of jail. His convictions though for burglary, larceny, narcotics and weapons possession don’t show an interest in violence. Hayes did have a problem with drugs and being able to complete community release, which he had failed all five times he had received it. His last arrest came in 1996 for breaking into a car to steal a purse in search of more money for crack. He was sentenced to five years in prison and he didn’t expect to be released an earlier than 2008. Evidently, someone felt that he should be released early and he ended up in the same halfway house as Komisarjevsky. There, while others scratched their heads wondering, the two became close friends.
Before his arrest on the burglaries, Komisarjevski, then 21, had gotten his 15 year old girlfriend pregnant. He pleaded with the judge during his sentencing that he had turned his life around following the birth of his daughter Jayda and along with his parents plea for a placement in a two year faith based program, he tried for leniency. He was released early for good behavior and had his ankle bracelet removed only one week before the Petit murders.
Komisarjevsky’s sister testified on her brother’s behalf during the sentencing portion of his trial, in an effort to have him avoid the death penalty. She stated that her parents had not sought psychological treatment for her brother or her after the abuse was exposed because they were afraid that the state would break up the family. She had no response though when the prosecution asked her how she had grown up in the same situation as her brother and still has lived a successful life. His parents both testified about his difficulties growing up which included shooting windows out with a BB gun, burglaries and setting a gas station on fire, which led to an arrest and a hospitalization. His father testified that he had even tried moving the family to New Hampshire to escape the bad influences on his son.
The defense went as far as having a taped interview with his daughter Jayden shown to the jury in hopes of avoiding the death penalty. It showed a bright 9 year old girl who didn’t really know her father, calling him Josh, who only knew that he had done something bad at work. Komisarjevsky had fought the tape being made because he felt that it would put too much pressure on her in the future. The current reports are that his daughter is now living with a maternal aunt and does not go by his last name.
It would seem that the Connecticut courts had failed on several fronts and the failures put two men together who may not have ever committed a crime so violent if they had not met. The courts also failed Komisarjevsky’s girlfriend and daughter during all of this. When he was sentenced in 2002 to jail he had additional conditions added which included having no contact with his victims, attending school, undergo a mental health evaluation with treatment and pay child support for his new daughter. He was ordered to pay child support even though the state had no proof of paternity, though he did rectify that in August of 2003 by signing a paternity acknowledgment in his jail cell. The state also did not make sure that he had taken care of the mental health part of his conditions or if he had violated the statutory rape laws.
His girlfriend Jennifer had stated that she did not want Komisarjevsky around her daughter and would not bring her to prison to visit him. It was in 2005 that he finally started filing petitions from jail for custody and visitation of his daughter and since he was locked up, he had all the low cost assistance he needed. Jennifer did not have that luxury. She lost sole custody of her daughter in Sept 2005 when a judge decided that even while he was in prison and had abused his sister, he could share custody of Jayda. This meant that she had to drop her daughter off every other weekend with Komisarjevsky’s parents for semi-supervised visits with him.
Komisarjevsky was now working a construction job, had a new young girlfriend and was having his paycheck garnished for the child support payments. In 2007, he incresed his legal efforts to gain sole custody of his child. His parole officers seemed to ignore his past crimes and troubles and began encouraging him to sue for custody. They even went so far as to offer referrals to add to his family court case as a reward for good behavior. He raised the issue that her drug use was affecting the care she could give the girl and when she missed a hearing due to being hospitalized, she lost custody.
The courts gave sole custody of Jayda to him even though he himself had drug problems in the past, admitted sexually abusing his younger sister, blamed his situation on the upbringing he had with his parents and had been branded as a cold blooded predator. At the time, he was living with his parents and this was the home the little girl would be moved to. Jennifer signed an agreement for joint custody afterwards that would allow her visitation with the daughter she had raised and it required the girl to alternate nights between their homes. Oddly, the courts were more interested in Jennifer’s possible drug abuse than any of Kamisarjevsky’s criminal background.
What then of William Petit? The house he and his family lived in at 300 Sorghum Mill Dr was heavily damaged by the fire that had been set and the decision was made to demolish it. A memorial park has been built on the site of the former home but William does not visit it.
William no longer practices medicine and states that the nightmares of that attack still haunt him. In 2012, he married Christine Paluf, 36 and on Nov 23 2013, they welcomed William Petit III into their new family. Not long after their wedding, the couple moved into a new home along the Farmington River in CT and while William still keeps certain lights on all night in the house, they have found the setting very peaceful and calming.
William dedicates all of his time now to his foundation, The Petit Family Foundation, as well as answering all the mail that he continues to receive through the years. The foundation accepts donations and uses them to foster the education of young people, especially women in sciences, improve the lives of those affected by chronic illness and to protect and support those people who have been affected by violence. People can donate money, volunteer time and participate in events that it promotes as a way of helping the foundation. The website for the foundation can be found at: http://www.petitfamilyfoundation.org/
The Petit family murder is a horrific crime and touched many more lives than just those directly involved. It may also be a very blatant warning to the legal system that overlooking some things can lead to such damaging results. It is good to hear that William Petit has found the support and courage to continue to live each day with an uplifting outlook and I hope that he enjoys many more good years in the future.
All related Petit stories on this blog:
Update Sept 6 2014:
The lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky have asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to hold an evidentiary hearing, reverse his sentence and order a new trial for him, Attorneys John Holdridge and Moira Buckley are seeking the new trial based on claims that the non emergency police phone line recordings were not given to the defense team for his trial. They state in their motion that these recordings would prove their theory that the police response was inadequate and calls into question the credibility of some of the officers. The attorneys feel that this would have impacted the guilt-innocence phase of the trial.
They state that the tapes would not be used to blame the police but they would be used to prove the bias, motive, self interest and prejudice against their client. Walter Bansley III, one of his original trial lawyers stated that those tapes had relevance to the trial and would have been used. He added that they would have been central to their defense theme of the failure of the police response team.
State’s Attorney Michael Dearington stated that those tapes had been turned over to the defense team and that he did not see that they created any meaningful issue. It seems as though this new motion is somehow supposed to “prove” that Komisarjevsky would not have committed the horrendous crimes that he did………… if the police response teams had acted much more quickly in preventing them from carrying out what they had planned to do when they returned to the Petit home.
Let’s be serious here……… they were caught driving the victims car on the same street as the crime scene, after they ran out of the burning house. How many ways can you say guilty?
The police did not force either Komisarjevsky or Hayes to do what they did. No amount of “I had a tough life” and whining that the police could have been quicker and stopped us makes either of them any less guilty. The motion almost seems to be another waste of the court’s time.
It may have been the call of nature or the outside temperatures on Feb 27 2008 that led a Yorktown NY man to order coffee as he did.46, of Croton-on-Hudson, used the drive-through lane at a local Dunkin Donuts shop that day and an employee there saw more than they wanted to.
Police state that they aren’t sure how he took his coffee that day but they do know that he didn’t have his pants on when he took his order from the window. The worker there saw Greco’s exposed genitals and made a note of the make of his car and his license number for police.
Greco is now charged with misdemeanor public lewdness after his arrest last week and he is due in court on March 27. Greco stated by telephone that he had no comment about the police report.
I am only going to take a guess here but the temps in late Feb in NY would have to be somewhere around the range that he certainly would have noticed that he had run out of the house pantless accidently. Of course, that may be why he needed a coffee to warm up a certain area of his anatomy.
“Clearly it depends on what size you are – but I don’t want to go there,” stated a spokesman for the Cleveland Fire Brigade.
Last Sunday it seems that larger was certainly better in the case of a kitchen fire.and his cousin Darren Lines were frying bread in Jenny Marsey’s Hartlepool England kitchen when the pan caught fire. Darren’s quick actions saved the kitchen but definately put his aunt in the news.
Lines grabbed the first thing he found in his aunt’s laundry basket and ran it under the faucet to wet it. He then tossed it onto the fire to smother it on the stove. An official from the fire department stated that it is sound thinking to smother a grease fire whenever possible with a large wet cloth.
Marsay agreed as well, stating that she was thankful for the boys quick thinking. The small grease fire could certainly led to a much greater fire and danger to them all. As for the wet cloth, nothing was stated about the condition of Marsay’s powder blue, size XL underpants that saved the day.
That does leave me a bit curious as to how large XL really is and what may have happened if they had been thongs he grabbed first.
“We confirm that the police were requested to meet our flight from Kingston,” stated British Airways.
The flight from Kingston Jamaica landed at Gatwick Airport, UK at about 8:45 am on March 19 2015 and it was met by the police as requested. It seems that a 46 year old woman from southwest London had taken it upon herself to drunkenly entertain the flight home from vacation.
At some point during the flight, she stripped naked and performed a solo sex act upon herself. It was not stated as to whether she made any after holiday cash for the “entertainment” but she did manage to get herself arrested at the airport and given a warning for being drunk on the plane. For an approximately 8 hour flight that landed at 8 am, she seems to have started very early in the morning to “get her groove on.”
I just never seem to get onto one of those flights though. I always seems to be stuck sitting only a few seats away from a screaming baby. Maybe it is time I change airlines?