Drew Peterson Charged with Murdering His 3rd Wife
May 8, 2009 - 10:52 AMDrew Peterson, the former police sergeant who went on a high-profile media blitz after his fourth wife's disappearance more than a year and a half ago, was expected to appear in court on murder charges in the death of his previous ex-wife.
Peterson, 55, was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found in an empty bathtub at home.
He was arrested during an evening traffic stop Thursday near his Bolingbrook home and held on $20 million bond, Illinois State Police Capt. Carl Dobrich said.
"We are very confident in our case," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said.
Savio's body was found with her hair soaked in blood from a head wound, just before the couple's divorce settlement was finalized. Her death originally was ruled an accidental drowning but authorities later said it was a homicide staged to look like an accident.
The indictment alleges that "Peterson on or about Feb. 29, 2004 ... caused Kathleen Savio to inhale fluid," causing her death.
Savio's family has long voiced suspicions, saying she feared Peterson and told relatives if she died it would not be an accident. Their fears resurfaced after the October 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, then 23.
Drew Peterson, 55, is a suspect in the disappearance, which police have called a possible homicide. But he has not been charged and has repeatedly said he thinks Stacy Peterson ran off with another man.
"I guess I should have returned those library books," a handcuffed Peterson said as state police led him into headquarters following his arrest, according to The (Joliet) Herald-News.
Despite the flip comment, "Drew takes these charges very seriously," defense lawyer Joel Brodsky said Friday in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America. Brodsky said "wisecracks and comedy" are just Peterson's way of dealing with stress.
Another defense attorney, Andrew Abood, said the indictment was not a complete surprise.
"There was tremendous pressure for the government to do something in this case," Abood said Thursday evening. But Abood said one of Peterson's sons with Savio has "provided a lock-tight alibi" for his father, who faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
In an appearance on CBS' "The Early Show" last month, 16-year-old Thomas Peterson appeared alongside his father and defended him.
"I highly do not believe that my dad had murdered my mom. Because, first off, he wasn't there, he was with us during that period of time," Thomas Peterson said on the show.
Peterson has seemed to relish the spotlight since Stacy Peterson's disappearance, appearing in a People magazine cover story and on multiple national talk shows - most recently to tout his new engagement to a 24-year-old woman.
From the day Stacy Peterson was reported missing, her husband, a cop of nearly 30 years, knew if investigators weren't focused on him, they soon would be. And it wasn't two weeks before the Illinois State Police made it official, calling Peterson a suspect and her disappearance a possible homicide.
When at the same time authorities announced they believed Savio's death looked like it was a homicide, Peterson knew authorities were looking closely at him as well.
"The husband is always a suspect, whether you declare him so or not," defense attorney Brodsky said when authorities revealed an autopsy on Savio's exhumed body showed she was murdered.
Savio's body was found by a friend of Peterson after the police sergeant called him to say he was worried because he had not talked to or seen Savio for a few days. The couple had recently divorced.
The friend, Steve Carcerano, has said he went to the house and went upstairs while Peterson waited downstairs. When he found Savio's body in the bathtub, he called downstairs to Peterson, who has said he then ran upstairs, took Savio's pulse, but found none.
Peterson's next wife was Stacy, who was 30 years younger. They had two children, who lived with the couple along with Peterson's two children from his marriage to Savio.
On the morning of Oct. 28, 2007, Stacy Peterson talked to a friend. Stacy's sister, Cassandra Cales, tried to call her in the middle of the afternoon, and did not get through. Late that night, Cales went to Peterson's home, but neither Drew nor Stacy was there. A few minutes later, she reached Peterson on his cell phone, with Peterson telling her that Stacy had left him.
Cales didn't believe it and reported her sister missing the next day.
Pamela Bosco, a friend of Stacy's family who has acted as an unofficial family spokeswoman, said "we're just happy for the Savio family."
"We always said that Stacy and Kathleen had one thing in common ... Drew Peterson," Bosco said.
Associated Press writers Tammy Webber and Don Babwin contributed to this report from Chicago.
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