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Petit Family Murderer Confesses to Killing 17 Women

Kevin Horan/Stone(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- A death row inmate has written a series of letters bragging that he has killed 17 women, made a snuff film documenting one of his alleged murders, and often kept their shoes as morbid trophies.

The letters were written by Steven Hayes, convicted last year of murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, during a Connecticut home invasion that turned into a gruesome rape and triple murder. The only person to survive the 2007 attack was Dr. William Petit, who was beaten with a baseball bat and tied to a pole in the basement.

The letters came to light when lawyers for Hayes' accomplice Joshua Komisarjevsky argued that the existence of the letters were grounds for a mistrial. Komisarjevsky was convicted earlier this month of taking part in the Petit murders.

Judge Jon C. Blue, who denied the request for a mistrial, has presided over both Hayes' and Komisarjevsky's trials and expressed some skepticism about the veracity of the claims in Hayes letter. If true, they would make Hayes responsible for 17 unsolved murders in New England between the early 1980's and 2007.

The prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News about the supposed 17 murders.

The letters, written to a woman named Lynn in Wilson, N.C., were intercepted by the Connecticut Department of Corrections in early October and handed over to prosecutors.

In the letters, according to the New Haven Register, Hayes also claimed to have raped dozens of women after using a date-rape drug to knock them out.

Hayes claimed his victims were all between the ages of 14 and 25.

Hayes also claimed to have "trophies" from all of his 17 victims.

It is possible the letters could be heard in court this week during the death penalty phase of Joshua Komisarjevsky's trial which begins Tuesday. The defense has argued that Komisarjevsky does not deserve the death penalty because it was Hayes who was responsible for the grisly crimes.

If sentenced to death, Komisarjevsky would join Hayes on Connecticut's death row.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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