"I'm used to that," Hayes said. "I don't even hear it anymore."

The three-page, handwritten letter on lined notebook paper came from "S. Hayes. No. 97425'' in October 2011.

The claim he made was chilling: The Petit family members weren't his only murders. He also had killed 17 other women, all runaways, hitchhikers and prostitutes. The story had come up during Komisarjevsky's trial, when defense lawyers raised it in a bid to shift blame away from their client, whose defense included pointing the finger for the Petit murders at Hayes.

Judge Blue, the trial judge, was skeptical.

"If they are true," Blue scoffed, "he's one of the great serial killers in modern American history."

But Hayes' claims, though arguably difficult to believe, were eerie. And now he was willing to give details about "every victim, all 17 and where they can be found and the whole story behind it."

The letter said he had made some of the girls he kidnapped "pack some of their stuff" or write good-bye notes to loved ones. Hayes claimed no one reported the first hitchhiker he killed missing because no one cared about her.

"With most, a second and third note would be written, by the girls themselves, and I would mail these weeks and months later. The notes would be detailed and disarming. This was key because while the girl would be gone within hours, the notes gave the appearance of what I wanted, a runaway or a girl who left her boyfriend or a hooker drug addict who went to greener pastures," Hayes wrote.

"Easy-pesy."

But now, sitting behind the glass partition, Hayes, dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit with rectangle reading glasses propped on the crown of his head, was quick to admit it was all a lie, a manipulation. He appeared more lucid and animated than the deadened, grimacing man sitting in the courtroom in the fall of 2010 during his trial.

"I made it up," Hayes said.

In this case, he said, it was another bid to kill himself. Portraying himself as an even more notorious criminal than he already was, he said, was just part of his elaborate plan to end his time on Connecticut's death row.

Hayes, 49, explained that by writing from prison about the bogus killing spree, he hoped authorities would seize his letters and notify police. His plan was to trade information for food — he wanted police to buy his story and grant his request for soda, a pepperoni pizza and a dozen oysters with hot sauce.

He is deathly allergic to oysters.

"I planned to eat them and have them find me dead in my cell the next morning," he said.

Like Hayes' previous suicide attempts, though, this ploy was a flop.

And the efforts he said he'd gone through to craft a credible story gives credence to those who see him as no more than a conniving manipulator. He said he did his homework, reading crime novels and studying the murders of serial killer Ted Bundy.

Bundy confessed to killing 30 women in seven states before he was executed by electric chair on Jan. 24, 1989.

New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington declined to discuss specifics about the state police probe into Hayes' claims, but said it is "an open investigation."

Hayes' purported desire to die has been a constant theme of his defense since the July 23, 2007 killings.