The uncle of a burglar accused of killing a wife and her two daughters has spoken out against the "horrendous crimes" committed by his nephew and an accomplice, and is offering his prayers and support to the man who lost his family in the attack.
Christopher Komisarjevsky said that his family would not stand quietly by after his adopted nephew, Joshua Komisarjevsky, allegedly killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, after robbing and setting their Cheshire, Conn., home ablaze July 23, 2007.
Dr. William Petit Jr., 50, a prominent endocrinologist, was beaten and bound in the basement but managed to escape the fire.
In an exclusive interview with Chris Cuomo Tuesday on "Good Morning America," Komisarjevsky said about his nephew, "What he did was horrific. He destroyed lives. He has destroyed a family, except for the dad.
"This man…is responsible for his own actions. And he must deal with that, and justice needs to be done."
Komisarjevsky and his family attended a memorial service for the deceased Petit women Saturday, and in the interview, offered his sincere condolences to Petit and his family.
The former CEO of public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, Komisarjevsky was at a loss for words as he grappled with his nephew's crimes, trying in vain to find some explanation for how a boy, adopted at a young age and growing up in a loving and religious home, could turn to a life of crime.
"When he was a little kid, he was full of life, full of activity. He loved to draw," he said. "But as time went on and he began to get in trouble, then he really became estranged from the family."
Komisarjevsky said that his brother and sister-in-law are in complete shock. "They are devastated. They just don't know how to handle [the] situation because they don't understand it," he said.
Joshua Komisarjevsky and his accomplice, Steven Hayes, have been charged with murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery, arson and other counts in conjunction with last week's attack. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
The Komisarjevsky family has an illustrious lineage, including Joshua's grandfather, who was a leading Russian theater director and the son of a princess. His grandmother was a pioneer of modern dance.
With the family's name now tarnished by these gruesome crimes, Christopher Komisarjevsky, contrite and devastated, emphasized that while it was difficult to speak out against a family member, he knew it must be done.
"My family is the kind of family that we talk about going into the lion's den. Which means that we are not afraid to deal with what actually is and the way things really are, and then find a way to address that," he told ABC. "And in this case, it's very clear this kid had opportunity, this kid went the wrong way."
As a show of support for Petit, Christopher, his wife Reina, and two of their children joined thousands of other well-wishers who attended a moving memorial service Saturday for Hawke-Petit and her two girls.
"Our purpose was really just to stand in the back, participate in a very, very quiet way, share our prayers, and provide our support to this family that has endured so very much," said Komisarjevsky.
He added that he was incredibly moved by Petit's bravery in speaking to those gathered, bruises still on his body, and only days after losing his entire family.
"This was enormous courage for someone to have come out of the hospital dealing with what he had to deal with," he said. "For him, to be able to stand up there, provide some perspective, and talk about it ... your heart goes out to this man who was just so genuine."
Komisarjevsky said things seemed to go wrong when his nephew became a teenager, started hanging out with a bad group of kids, and got involved in a life of crime.
"My brother and his wife did everything that parents could do to try to make sure that he did the right thing," he said.
"It's probably the most difficult job in the world…to raise children. The most difficult job that anybody could ask for," he said.