Arrests made in 2006 Branford arson-murder

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Federal authorities have charged two men in connection with the 2006 arson-murder of a Branford woman.

Kathleen Hardy, a 39-year-old a mother of three, died March 7, 2006, when someone set fire to the home she was renting on Little Bay Lane in the Short Beach section of Branford.

The two men arrested are identified in a federal indictment as Steven Martone, also known as “Crash”, and John Vailette, aka “John John” or “Snagglepuss”. Both are referred to as a “drug addicted person.”

Kathleen Hardy
Kathleen Hardy

They were arraigned in federal court in Hartford Friday afternoon. Hardy’s family was also in court for the arraignment.

LINK: Read the Indictment (.pdf)

If convicted, both men face up to life in prison, or the death penalty.

Friday morning, federal and local authorities raided a home on Notch Hill Road in North Branford, where they arrested Martone. Vailette has been serving time in a federal prison.

Police say someone had set fire to the stairs leading to the second floor of Hardy’s home, blocking her way out of the house. She died from smoke inhalation.

According to the indictment, Vailette had told one person “that he had done something very, very bad which had involved a fire.” Vailette told another person “that he had done something horrible, rotten, and as bad as can be,” the indictment said.

Items from Hardy’s home were found in a truck used by Vailette, authorities said.

The indictment also says Martone was confronted by someone about his role in the crime, and did not deny it. Martone “also stated it was impossible for the police to have any DNA evidence ‘because of the way we left that’,” according to the indictment.

Hardy’s case has been featured among other cold cases investigated by the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office.

A $50,000 reward had been offered in the case.

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