October 28, 2007: The Disappearance of Drew Peterson's 4th Wife, Stacy




WHAT HAPPENED?


I had to go back to my stories and double check if I had written this one before, because the case of Scott Peterson is so similar to this one, and I wrote about that case earlier this year. But nope, this is the case of Drew Peterson, a dude with the same last name who also killed his wife (or wives).


Drew Peterson is a retired (and now, imprisoned) Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant who murdered his 3rd wife, Kathleen Savio, a few months after they divorced in 2003. A few years later in 2007, his next wife, Stacy Ann Peterson, disappeared. Police, and Stacy's family, believe that she was a victim of foul play at the hands of her husband, but she has never been found.


It wasn't until Stacy's disappearance that Kathleen's case was reviewed again, the original cause of death determined to be drowning. In 2009, Peterson was indicted for Kathleen's murder and was sentenced to 38 years in prison on February 21, 2013. He was given another 40 years when he tried to hire someone to murder a state attorney.


Drew Peterson rots behind bars to this day, but Stacy has never been found.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT DREW


Drew Peterson attended Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, Illinois and ran cross country until he graduated in 1972. He joined the Army after graduation and in 1974, he moved to Falls Church, Virginia to begin training as a military police officer.


In 1977, he began his 30-year career with the Bolingbrook, Illinois police department. In 1979, he received the "Police Officer of the Year" honor. In 2007, he retired at the age of 53 as a sergeant and was given a $79,000 tax-free pension.


During his career, he had 4 different wives. 2 would end up missing or dead.


Peterson's first wife was Carol Brown. They met in high school and attended prom together. They married in 1974, only 2 years after they graduated, and lasted until 1980 when Carol learned that he was cheating on her. They had 2 sons together, Stephen and Eric.


In 1982, he married his second wife, Vicki Connolly. They operated a bar together. They were married for 10 years, and Vicki claimed that he had a spree of domestic violence against her during that time. Additionally, her daughter suffered abuse at the hands of Peterson. She lived in the house until she was 17 years old.


After Stacy disappeared, Vicki told police that during their marriage, he would often threaten to kill her and make it look like an accident - and likely, with the resources he had as a well-respected cop, he could have done it. Peterson began dating Kathleen Savio, and Vicki divorced him once she found out. They divorced on February 18, 1992. She was the last of his wives to make it out of a marriage to him alive.


Peterson married the woman of his affair just months after his divorce was finalized in May of 1992. They added 2 sons to their family, Thomas and Kristopher. Their marriage lasted until 2003 when they divorced. Between 2002 and 2004, police were called to the household for domestic disturbances and returning children home during visitations late 18 times. On March 1, 2004, her body was found in a waterless bathtub, ruled a drowning by accident. A police officer on the coroner's jury who determined the cause of death assured the others that Peterson was a good man who would never hurt his wife.


His last wife was Stacy Ann Peterson. At the age of 49, Peterson married a 19-year-old hotel receptionist, just days after his divorce with Kathleen was finalized. They had 2 children, Anthony and Lacy. (Yes, Lacy is the name of the wife Scott Peterson killed. How is it possible to keep these murderous Peterson's straight?) She disappeared on October 28, 2007, 13 years ago today. She is still considered a missing person, though police believe that she was met with foul play.

THE CRIMES


Kathleen Savio and Drew Peterson divorced. In fact, it seemed like he had moved on, marrying a woman 30 years his junior within the week of his divorce. And so, on March 1, 2004, when Kathleen's body was found face down in a waterless bathtub, her death was ruled an accidental drowning. Though some people obviously thought foul play was involved, the official ruling was a drowning. Peterson stayed married to his child bride as she raised Kathleen's children as her own. That's all it was: an accident.


Except for... it wasn't.


After Stacy Peterson disappeared, it was becoming obvious that perhaps good-cop Peterson wasn't exactly the best man or husband. With the new case at hand, Kathleen's body was exhumed, and this time, it was examined by a group who was not biased by Peterson's police ranking.


During this autopsy, it was found that Kathleen had died of drowning. But it was anything but accidental. The horrific marks around her body that were explained away by the first autopsy came to light. She had been drowned following an aggressive struggle. There was bruising to her back, torso, face, and there was a huge gash in her scalp. Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow told the press that her death was most likely a homicide, staged to look like an accident. Remember what he told Vicki?


"It looked like she was brutalized that night," said Pam Bosco, a family friend of Stacy Peterson, who was learning what her friend's husband had done to his last wife along with the rest of the world. "The horror of what Kathleen Savio. must have went through before she died," she said.


It enrages me that he got away with it for so long. He told his 2nd wife he would kill her and make it look like an accident. And even though Kathleen's death didn't really look like an accident, having people in your corner in the justice system can do great things for someone trying to get off the hook for murder. It took a second woman, a second wife, to get someone to take Kathleen's death seriously.


Which brings me to Stacy Peterson.


Peterson said he saw his wife last at 10 or 11 pm on the evening of October 28, 2007. She was going to meet a friend. Her car was found in the parking lot of the Clow Airport, about 400 yards away from the Peterson home.


Peterson, originally, cooperated with the investigation. He said he believed his wife left him for another man, and didn't want to be found. He also claimed he received an anonymous letter from her, stating she was safe and sound. To further his claims that he had nothing to do with it, he brought to light her psychiatric treatment and medications she was on, mostly to make it look like she was crazy and would leave to start a new life on her own accord.


But her friends and family didn't believe it. They didn't believe she would voluntarily leave behind her 2 young kids, and her sister knew that Peterson was controlling and abusive and that Stacy didn't feel safe in her marriage.


Now, honestly, if this were any other case, I could see the "she ran off to start a new life" angle. She was married to a psychopath. She was 19 when they married, and she inherited the children of his ex-wife who had just died. She was being abused. She was still so young, finishing nursing school and being a full-time mother and wife to a nutjob. It certainly seems like it might be enough for someone to crack. But, when your husband recently killed his other wife... it is much more realistic to believe that he killed this one, too.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS


On May 7, 2009, Peterson was indicted for the murder of Kathleen Savio. Bail was set at $20 million.


On July 21, 2010, there were concerns that the hearsay statements indicating that Peterson had murdered 2 of his wives wouldn't be enough for a jury to hear the trial. But after some legal back and forth, it was determined that there was enough evidence to try the case.


There isn't a lot of information about the trial itself, but at the end of it, on September 6, 2012, Peterson was found guilty of premeditated murder, with much of the evidence being the hearsay statements that were allowed under a new law entitled "Drew's Law". He was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of Kathleen.


On February 9, 2015, after only 3 years into his 38 year sentence, Peterson was charged with another crime: the attempted murder of James Glasgow, the prosecutor in his murder trial, and the one who determined that Kathleen's death was likely a covered up murder. He had tried to put a hit on him. He was sentenced to an additional 40 years in prison for the attempt, which is kind of insane that he was given more years for trying to coordinate a failed hit than the actual brutal murder of his wife, but it is what it is. He now has 78 years in prison, and will die while he is in there. Lucky us.


This case makes my blood boil. Drew Peterson was a terrible human. Both of the wives who survived being married to him corroborated it. He was abusive, dangerous, jealous, controlling and a psychopath. But at work, he was "Police Officer of the Year". He got promotions and won awards. And because of that, he was able to get away with exactly what he hoped to: staging a murder to look like an accident.


From 2003 to 2009, years that he stole from Kathleen, he was a free man. He married a teenager. He had a life. He got to enjoy fresh air and fun times and human interaction while Kathleen was not only dead, but had no justice for the brutal, horrific way she died. She had officially died in an accident. Her family and friends spent 6 years knowing that probably something else happened, but they were told that she drowned on accident.


And then, he kills Stacy. I don't believe for a single second she didn't. And it sucks that it took another wife going missing to look back into Kathleen's case. A case where a coroner's jury included a close personal friend of Peterson's, who vouched for the killer instead of getting justice for the victim.


In the aftermath, his oldest son whom he had with Carol, Stephen, took custody of his other 4 children. (Stephen's brother, Eric, who was also from his first marriage, was already an adult and had been estranged from Peterson for many years).


And so, Stephen took custody of Kristopher and Thomas (Kathleen's sons) ages 14 and 16 at the time, and Thomas and Lacy (Stacy's children), ages 5 and 4 at the time. Since he took custody, Kathleen's children moved out when they were old enough. But as of 2017, he still cares for Thomas and Lacy.


Stephen, also a cop, was fired from his job around his father's indictment on suspicion of covering up his father's crimes. It took him some time to come to terms with the fact that his father may have been guilty. At first, he believed that Kathleen had drowned, and that Stacy had left for another man. He wasn't covering up for a killer, but for his father that was being wrongfully framed.


But now, he sees the truth. "I think this is the first time I ever even said out loud that I think he probably did it," he said in a 2017 interview about the murders of Kathleen and Stacy.


2 of his children were adults when they saw their father hauled off in handcuffs, accused of murder. 2 of his children learned their mother had died accidentally, only to realize later that their father had murdered her. And 2 of his children have no idea where their mother is, but likely suspect that their father had something to do with it. On top of the women he killed, the effects of his actions go so deep.


I hope Stacy is found one day. I believe she was killed, but it would be nice to be able to find her body and officially pin Peterson for it... or at least provide her family some closure as to what happened to her. It took 6 years for Kathleen's family to finally learn what happened to her, and nearly 10 more years for him to be jailed for it. Maybe for Stacy, it will also just take some time. And Peterson isn't going anywhere soon... or ever.

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drew_Peterson

https://patch.com/illinois/bolingbrook/the-horror-of-what-kathleen-savio-went-through-before-she-died

http://charleyproject.org/case/stacy-ann-peterson

https://www.distractify.com/p/what-happened-to-drew-peterson-kids


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