Filed under: Stacy Peterson

Murdered: Kathleen Savio (An Open Thread About the Peterson Case)

The AP is reporting that ex-cop Drew Peterson’s ex-wife Kathleen Savio was murdered. A coroner originally ruled that Savio’s death in 2004 was an accident.

A second autopsy was done on Savio’s remains after the October 28, 2007 disappearance of Drew Peterson’s 4th wife Stacy. According to that examination, Savio was drowned. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

The AP report on this development quoted a statement from Will County, Illinois States Attorney James Glasgow. Glasgow said, “We have been investigating this as a murder since reopening the case in November of last year,” he continued, “We now have a scientific basis to formally and publicly classify it as such.”

Drew Peterson has denied involvement in the disappearance of wife Stacy and any connection with the death of Kathleen Savio. Read this True Crime Weblog entry for some background on Savio, and some of what she may have had to say about Peterson.

I consider this post an open thread about the Peterson case, so if you’re inclined, comment away. Please confine the discussion to the subject at hand, and please keep it civil and sane.

Additional link: CBS2Chicago.com.

The Disappearance of Stacy Peterson: What Kathleen Savio Said

Stacy Peterson, age 23, has been missing since October 28. That Sunday night was the last time her husband, Drew Walter Peterson, said he spoke with Stacy. Since then, the strange alchemy that shoves some missing persons cases into the national spotlight and lets others fade has worked on this developing story, and many cable news networks do hourly updates on the case.

There are many reasons Stacy’s disappearance has attracted so much attention. Here are a few:

* Her husband Drew, from whom Stacy was estranged, is a police Sgt. with the Bolingbrook, Illinois PD, and he is a good 3 decades or so older than Stacy;
* Stacy sent foreboding e-mails to several people in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, and they pointed towards her husband should anything happen to her;
* Stacy was Drew’s fourth wife, and his third wife, Kathleen Savio, died under mysterious circumstances.

In 2004, shortly after her divorce from Drew Peterson, Kathleen was discovered dead in an empty tub in her home in Bolingbrook.

An investigation into Kathleen Savio’s death found no sign of foul play. There was a bit of blood in the tub, Savio’s hair was wet and there was blood in her hair, likely from a gash on her scalp. The inquest into her death concluded the gash had been from a fall in the tub.

Naturally, Stacy Peterson’s disappearance called Kathleen Savio’s death into question.

Kathleen Savio talked about her fear of her cop husband. Her family has said that she even wrote a letter to a State’s Attorney saying that if she died and it looked like suicide, her husband did it.

Kathleen also talked to friends and acquaintances about her troubled marriage.

Requesting anonymity, one such friend has corresponded with The True Crime Weblog.

Kathleen’s friend stated she knew Savio from a class they’d taken together in 2003. She wrote, “[Kathleen] started talking about her soon-to-be ex Drew [. . .] She stated that she thought that he’d hurt her. She told me that her marriage had broken up because of his ‘fooling around’ with ‘young girls’…”

Drew allegedly met the girls while working as some kind of mentor or teacher for the Bolingbrook Police Department’s police cadet program.

Kathleen’s friend continued: “Kathy stated that she’d called and told BPD about him with the girls, and, specifically one named Stacey, (that Drew had started fooling around with her when she was 16) but that they refused to do anything about it. She said that for awhile there would be a BPD car outside her house off and on, just parked across the street.”

Savio allegedly said these things to her friend in the fall of 2003.

After Drew Peterson moved into a home up the street from the place he’d shared with Kathleen Savio, Kathleen was asked how her soon-to-be-ex could possibly afford two $200,000-plus homes on a police Sergeant’s salary.

According to her friend, Kathleen smiled and said, “That’s a good question.” She wouldn’t elaborate any further on the question.

Kathleen’s former friend and colleague had a much more alarming story to relate about Drew Peterson — Kathleen Savio’s version of the story, at least:

She told me that he had told her that he could kill her and no one would ever know. I had to walk her to her car a couple of times after class because she was afraid, saying Drew was trying to intimidate her in their divorce settlement, and was stalking her. They owned a bar together in Montgomery, Il and were partners in a (printing) company in (I think) Lombard, Il. She knew that he’d try to do something to her. She told me that Stacy would come over to her house and ring the door bell, and want to ‘chat.’ We both felt like she was somehow trying to ‘become’ Kathy; almost like she wanted to take over her life, if that makes any sense. Stacey had enrolled at [Joliet Junior College] and was going to go into the nursing program as well…

According to the person who made the statement above, Drew Peterson was also investigated in the late 80s for “shaking down drug dealers for drugs” and money.

Those charges were dismissed, due to lack of evidence.

Drew Peterson’s late third wife allegedly had her own take on that: “Kathy said that no one would testify against him. Kathy told me that she knew a lot about him that could get him into trouble.” Kathleen Savio seemed to believe that Drew wasn’t the only one who’d been involved in the alleged illegal shakedowns.

Kathleen Savio’s friend stated later that she believed that Drew Peterson “collected quite a bit” of money from Kathleen’s life insurance settlement.

Had the information from Kathleen’s old classmate come out of the blue, it might not have been as compelling as it was.

However, conversations remembered from 2003 and 2004 with the dead woman dovetail well with a report published today in the Chicago Sun Times:

When Susan Savio got the news that her sister had drowned in her bathtub, she immediately wanted to know one thing: Did Drew Peterson kill her?

Kathleen Savio had told family “that if she would die, it may look like an accident, but it wasn’t,” Susan Savio said in a newly released transcript from a coroner’s inquest into the death of Kathleen Savio, Peterson’s third wife, who died in 2004 after they divorced.

“She was terrified of that — [of] him and him threatening her,” Susan Savio said.

The documents were released Thursday as Will County officials considered exhuming Kathleen Savio’s body. Her unusual death is getting a second look as teams search for Peterson’s current wife, Stacy, missing since Oct. 28…

Drew Peterson has recently spoken out about Stacy’s disappearance and all the suspicion against him. From NBC 5 in Chicago:

On Thursday, Peterson broke his silence with the media in front of his Bolingbrook home when he told reporters, “The media is terrorizing my children.”

NBC5’s Kim Vatis said that authorities are considering exhuming Savio’s body for further investigation, after the Will County coroner cast doubt on the original findings of the 2004 autopsy results, saying that the death by “drowning” determination was inaccurate and that the autopsy results are, at least, “undetermined.”

“Do you want to comment on the coroner’s statement?” a reporter asked Peterson as he was going from his SUV to his front door Thursday night.

“I have no comments for the media because they did everything wrong,” he said, barely showing his face under a hooded sweatshirt…

As this post was being written, it was announced on MSNBC that Kathleen Savio’s body will indeed be exhumed.

Sergeant Peterson’s problems with the media may soon pale beside his problems with his fellow cops, if evidence of foul play is found on his third wife’s remains.

UPDATE, 4:10 p.m. ET

As is noted in the comments below, Drew Peterson is now officially a suspect in his ex-wife’s disappearance. From Fox News/The AP:

“Drew Peterson went to being a person of interest to clearly a suspect,” said Illinois State Police Capt. Carl Dobrich at a press conference, adding that the case has shifted to a potential homicide case…

(NOTE: For a quirky look at a very different kind of crime story, check out this post by me on RADAR Magazine’s “Fresh Intelligence.”)

Tips!

The True Crime Weblog wants your tips.

I don’t meant donations this time (though those are always welcome), I mean information. On any story blogged about here, or related to crime stories you’d like me to cover.

I can’t guarantee that I will cover every story sent my way, but I can guarantee that I’ll take each message I receive seriously and may respond in depth if needed.

If you have a tip for something covered by RADAR Magazine, they do have their own address to use, but I’ll welcome a tip you might think RADAR-worthy as well, and pass it on, if needed. Sometimes writing for the Crime Library was hard because I couldn’t decide whether to pitch a story to my editor there or blog about it. RADAR’s crime/scandal coverage is pretty specific, so I don’t worry about any conflicts in content between this blog and paid work for them.

This post is to reiterate something I’ve told tipsters via e-mail in the past, but rarely touched on in the blog: In addition to referencing traditional media stories, this blog also contains original research and reporting.

That may explain to you to some degree why I’ve also been fortunate enough to do professional true crime writing since I began this endeavor in late 2004. The True Crime Weblog isn’t about regurgitating news you can get from Reuters or the AP, unlike many other news-related weblogs. Here, I seek always to add to what those sources have already told you. I don’t hesitate to use traditional media sources to check my work, to validate it, and I don’t mind using mainstream media reports as starting points. But I don’t see any point in crime blogging most of the time unless I have something new to add to the story.

All tips and story ideas are welcome, but I really prize original information. If it is already being reported on your local TV stations or in the newspapers, it is more akin to background on a story, or perhaps an idea for a story. If you send me something you think may not be public knowledge save to you, that is a tip. And those are pretty damned important.

When we’re dealing with original reporting, information sent from a reader that may first see light of day on this weblog, I need to know these things as well: Whether or not you want me to use your name or screen name; Your source for the information, preferably with a URL if you have one; Why you think it’s a worthwhile tidbit.

If these things aren’t included, I need a real e-mail address to which I can respond. I may have to write you and ask where you found your information, and I will ask if it’s already been published.

It occurred to me to make this post after I received several requests and suggestions in relation to the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, in the Chicago area. The 23-year-old woman vanished last Sunday and national media quickly picked up on the story, mainly because her much-older cop husband Drew had several previous marriages and his wife before Stacy died under mysterious circumstances.

The cable news nets or major papers picking up on a story like that will not always stay my hand from doing an entry — I’ve proven to myself that I can take on big stories and still break news in the past. You just have to watch MyCase.com Wednesday night at 10:30 ET on Court TV to see one big example of what I’m talking about.

So far, though, I can’t add anything to the unfolding story of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance. At the moment, anything I post here about Stacy or her husband would be information already published or broadcast elsewhere. Most of the time, I just don’t work that way. I’ve made some exceptions — the open threads for readers interested in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are the most recent ones that come to mind. But those exceptions are few and far between.

Hopefully I’ve illustrated why I don’t always write about what seem like crime stories ripe for true crime blogging, and I’ve clarified what it is I’m doing here.

Any questions, just like tips, can be sent via my contact form.

(Unrelated note: I made it into my hometown newspaper today! Along with Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, and the Smashing Pumpkins, to name a few. Yes, I’m originally from Nashville, and the last time I recall being in the Tennessean was more than twenty years ago, in a review of some theater thing I did.)