Petit Family Foundation Holds First Ride to Honor Mom and Daughters Slain in Home Invasion

Petit Family Foundation funds education and supports the sick and victimized.

Sept. 26, 2010— -- A fundraiser in honor of mother and two daughters who were killed in a violent Connecticut home invasion drew more than 3,000 Harley-Davidson riders today.

Proceeds from the Petit Family Foundation Ride for Justice will benefit the Petit Family Foundation, which honors the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela.

The 48-year-old Cheshire, Conn., mother and her daughters were killed in a brutal July 2007 invasion of their home. Hawke-Petit and her younger daughter were sexually assaulted.

Sole Survivor Thanks Supporters

Dr. William Petit Jr., the girls' father and Hawke-Petit's husband, was beaten and tied up in the basement. He escaped before the suspects, 30-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky and 47-year-old Steven Hayes, allegedly doused the house with gasoline and set it ablaze.

Today, the 50-year-old Petit thanked supporters who turned out for the ride that started in Bristol, Conn., and ended in Cheshire.

Organizers this evening estimated that they raised more than $65,000 for the Petit Family Foundation, a nonprofit that was established to honor the memory of the slain Petit women.

The foundation uses donations to foster education, help the chronically ill and protect those whose lives have been affected by violence.

Jim Oake, a Farmington area resident and one of the participants in the ride, told ABC News that he participated in order to bring something positive to the tragedy.

Today is Hawke-Petit's birthday. She would have been 52.

In graphic testimony last week in the murder trial of the two suspects, jurors learned that Komisarjevsky took cell phone pictures during the alleged crime. His cell phone allegedly contained pictures of a young girl that included a close-up of her underwear, along with a photo of an older woman with her legs splayed.

At one point during the alleged assault, Hayes took Hawke-Petit to the bank to withdraw money. She reportedly hoped that her $15,000 withdrawal would appease her assailants.

Father Upset During Graphic Testimony

The medical examiner has ruled that the girls died from smoke inhalation. Their mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, was strangled to death.

Dr. Petit became visibly upset during some of last week's testimony, and at one point he left the courtroom. He also skipped the medical examiner's testimony, which included details of the assault on Michaela.

According to testimony from Connecticut State Police Detective Anthony Buglione, while Hayes was out at the bank with Hawke-Petit, Komisarjevsky was supposed to put the family in the car and then the pair would burn the house down.

But when Hayes returned, Komisarjevsky allegedly told him he had already sexually assaulted Michaela and told Hayes to "square things up" and do the same to the wife, which Hayes reportedly did.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky first met at a halfway house where they both attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, police have said. Desperate for money, they allegedly hatched the plan after a few drinks.

Click here to visit the Web site for the Petit Family Foundation.

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Andrea Canning, Lee Ferran, Sarah Netter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.