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The Cheshire Murders

A few days ago, I screwed up and watched "The Cheshire Murders," an HBO documentary about the infamous 2007 crime. It's really very good, but I don't think I'll make the mistake of watching anything similar anytime soon. Since I unfortunately can't stop thinking about it, there were a couple things I wanted to get off my chest.

First of all, the film paints the picture of some pretty serious errors made by the police department. These mostly aren't like egregious or negligent or anything, but in 20/20 hindsight it becomes clear that their tactical decisions were completely wrong. Of course, this is embarrassing, so it must needs be covered up. They've all mastered the script that they're protecting the families from the salacious, detail hungry press by keeping their basic deployment data under lock and key. Never mind that the families themselves are the FIRST ones out there asking tough questions, demanding answers, and still not getting even the courtesy of a response.


There's a few clips of press conferences in the initial aftermath, and the speakers all make a point to begin by heaping praise on the police for their wonderful, outstanding work in resolving the crisis. This sort of speech is quite familiar to me, and when you get it you KNOW that things really were a complete and utter clusterfuck. Like, listening to the boss man going on about how proud he is of the job you did, meanwhile knowing in your heart how truly fucked the whole situation was. Just like then, I'm sure some of the cops have internalized the official line and see it as they caught the bad guys, turned in a slam-dunk case, sent them both to death row, job well done.

A lot of depressing thoughts from watching that film, and I learned a lot of things I think I would have preferred not knowing. Dr. William Petit comes across as an extremely sympathetic figure: always polite and gracious, yet also totally detached and automatic in his speech and interactions with people. It was a nice coincidence the other day to see the news that he and his new wife are expecting their first child. I'm sure everyone wishes him a lot of happiness.

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