Friday, February 13, 2009

Getting Away With Murder, Not Once, But Twice?

by Susan Murphy-Milano

The house located at 392 Pheasant Court, Bolingbrook, Illinois, became a cold case crime scene four years after a botched local "good old boys" police investigation.

The major screw-up also resulted in an incorrect autopsy report on a 2004 closed-case file.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow asked the court for permission to exhume the body of its former resident, Kathleen Savio. On February 21, 2008, her death was reclassified as a homicide.

My God, if those walls could speak, what would they reveal? A wife, devoted mother of two boys, and nursing student, isolated from anyone who would answer her pleas for help—including the police department employing her husband, Sgt. Drew Peterson. And the Will County State’s Attorney to whom she repeatedly sought out assistance as evidenced by one of several letters sent to the Will County State’s Attorney’s office.

Kathleen’s life and fight for survival makes the game show contestants' battles on Survivor look like child’s play.

Consider for a moment the
life of any woman married to a person trained to kill, a man who upon graduation from the police academy is issued a firearm and a badge to protect our streets from criminals. Imagine being the wife of a man who comes home after his shift and terrorizes his own family members. When the person harming her is himself in law enforcement . . . where is a woman in this position, enduring a daily battleground, going to go for help?

In my professional opinion, the answer to this question does not exist.

A police officer's wife must take extraordinary measures just to get the police to respond, and, if she’s lucky, to write a report. In Kathleen’s case, the Bolingbrook police documented going to the home 19 times out of a possible 90 or more undocumented calls where police did not write a report or arrest their watch commander Sgt. Drew Peterson.

If Stacy Peterson had not vanished off the face of the planet, the truth about Kathleen Savio’s death would have remained in the Closed Case file cabinet collecting dust. Speaking of case files, if Illinois State Police investigators reviewed one by one each of Drew Peterson's arrest and case files over his twenty-nine year law enforcement career, I am confident that they would no doubt uncover important information and clues in solving one or both of these cases.

The grand jury has been convening for more than a year on Wife #3, Kathleen Savio, and Wife #4, Stacy Peterson. This past week brought a victory of sorts, as the appellate court allowed the family of Kathleen Savio to re-open and gain control of the estate Drew Peterson was trying block.

While we continue to watch Drew Peterson draw attention to himself like a circus act in the media, remember, it cost two women their lives. Do I believe the body of Stacy Peterson will be recovered? In my opinion, no.

In the case of Kathleen Savio, I am holding my breath, hoping the State’s Attorney, James Glasgow is able to bring justice in a court of law for these women, their children, and their families.


Anonymous said...

All people should be treated equal in the eyes of the law. There is no place for nepotism in our justice system. Whether a victim is in a relationship with a police officer, politician, information broker, private investigator, attorney or judge...all should be treated equal. I pray that this case is not ignored and that the facts and the truth surfaces and is not buried. A human life is precious and all cases should receive the attention that they deserve and equal justice.

It is a good thing that this blog exists and that these vicitms and others have a place to turn for help, becuase without these forums these and other cases could easily be ignored.

Dennis N. Griffin said...

Thanks for putting this case back in focus.

The passage of time often causes issues to fade and be replaced by new ones. We can't let that happen here. Two women deserve justice and we must make sure they receive it.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen Savio's family needs the truth regarding the facts of her murder; they need the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Any family who has lost a loved one by murder would want the same, first and foremost, they deserve answers! The investigations need to be completed thoroughly and without bias. The Illinois A.G.'s office needs to be forthcoming, with all the evidence regarding Kathleen's murder.

Police officers' wives suffer greatly; Kathleen paid the ultimate price. Now it is time her family has the whole story so they can have closure and seek justice. It is time, in fact it is past time!

Anonymous said...

If the the Prosector had anything by now, Peterson would have been charged in one or both of the cases. Too much time has passed. Too many fingers in the cookie jar called the facts in both womens lives.

I agree, with sadness,the body of Stacy may never be recovered.

And all women married to abusive law enforcement have little if any opportunity ti seek conventional legal services as it is not worth the risk to their own persona safety.

Until the justice system, wakes up, we can expect others like Peterson to get away with murder!

Delilah said...

"In Kathleen’s case the Bolingbrook police documented going to the home 19 times out of a possible 90 or more undocumented calls where police did not write a report or arrest their watch commander Sgt. Drew Peterson."

Kathleen Savio was begging for help, even writing to the States Attorney documenting her abuse. She did everything "right by the system" and still ended up dead. Obviously, the system is broken and she won't be the last police officer's wife who will be ignored and wind up dead.

There are so many who should be held accountable for not listening to her pleas for help. Kathleen is still begging for justice from the grave. She and her children and her family deserve that little bit of retribution.

Anonymous said...

What is our justice system coming to? Why is it possible for bias to be a obstacle in a system that is supposed to have so many checks and balances.

Can the Savio family sue the county/state for their loss? For this injustice? I realize this won't bring her or any other victim back but often this is what it takes in order for change to happen a person or entity has to be hit in the pocket book!

Bravo to Susan Milano for bringing this topic to the forefront and may both of these women rest in peace and may victims of officer involved abuse and stalking find peace and justice.

Robin Sax said...

Great post Susan (as always). You, out of all people, know the fear and terror victims of abuse feel...especially when their abuser has all the resources and knowledge to avoid getting caught!!!

Unknown said...

The problem that Kathleen Savio, and other wives of police officers, has become all too obvious.

Some sort of legislation needs to pass in this country so that women with husbands in law enforcement, or other positions of power, have a safe place to go where there is a guaranteed investigation that will be done.... and swiftly.

Good Blog, Susan!

Unknown said...

The cases where authorities control information, investigations, or may have involvement are particularly difficult. There is an enormous resistance to reviewing files or opening cases that cast a light on our system. People with these cases need help, media exposure, and pressure to examine records. The answers probably are in the files, but earlier investigation didn't know where to look or were involved to conceal crimes.

There is research going on in another case. Help expose it. When people are trying to be vocal, like Drew Peterson's wives, others need to pay attention.

Anonymous said...

James Glasgow is his biggest fan.

He says he's increased felony prosecutions 61% since he took office in December of 2004 with no increases in personnel.

I wonder how he's done that? Maybe his motive is to look good not do a good job?

In the interest of judicial expediency just let the costly cases go, you know like the Drew Peterson case.

Anonymous said...

This case is distubing and all to common. The justice system fails to often.
I can relate to this case in so many ways.
My sons presumed homicide went missing, police basically ignored our cry for help, 7 DNA samples lost, I begged the Governor, Attorney General, Legislators, and states attorney and all led to deaf ears. Comments made were heartbreaking. What are citizens to do when the very people hired to protect them DON'T.
My plea for help lead me to a criminal arrest (later dismissed in Superior CT)
I can really understand the frustration when others face similar. Drastic changes need to take place police need accountability.

There are many GOOD ones but it is the bad ones who destroy many lives forever.

I am currently working with Senator Lieberman's DC office drafting a bill to be presented to Congress in the near future.

Please write your Federal Legislators from your states to show Senator Lieberman there is concern and support to push this through.
Thank you Susan for writing and bringing this case out for all to read.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain's famous quotation, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure," has never had greater meaning than when it is applied to today's politicians and government accounting.

Anyone who has had the extreme displeasure of having to go through the justice system knows this!

There should be a class action suit brought by victims! Our rights are being violated by their ineptness!

Vote James Glasgow OUT NOW!! Better yet, IMPEACH HIM!!

Anonymous said...

Susan' s QUOTE: " I am holding my breath, hoping the State’s Attorney, James Glasgow is able to bring justice in a court of law for these women, their children, and their families."

You're going to turn BLUE!

Haven't you seen the billboards around Joliet? Asking “Have the last 4 years been open season on women in Will County?”

Judy DeVriendt said they should make people think,” “What is going on? And what is being done? Why all of a sudden are these cases being swept under the rug?” "Glasgow’s office does not advocate for women."

He's only interested in the bottom line! And his poiltical goals!

It's only going to get worse if he gets his wish of taking over the ATTY Gen office!

Diane Dimond said...

Good for you for keeping a spotlight on this gross miscarriage of justice. Seems the state is certainly taking its time, via the grand jury, in investigating the TRUE fate of those two poor women.

But, I must take exception with this statement in your column:

"Where is a woman in this position, enduring a daily battleground, going to go for help ? Because the person harming them, is themselves in law enforcement?

In my professional opinion, the answer to this question does not exist."

Oh, Contraire! How about a frightened cop's wife who calls up the local newspaper editor in chief or the best investigative TV reporter in town? I guarantee there isn't a journalist around who wouldn't jump at a story with a headline like, "Watch Commander terrorizes family and his department refuses to Stop Him!"

Family victims of police officers can also go over the head of the P.D. and appeal directly to the District Attorney's domestic abuse section (if there is one) or the state's Attorney General's office. They can find sanctuary at a church or a domestic abuse shelter.

If they keep a diary of their 911 calls or take photographs of their bruises, the torn apart living room, the holes he leaves in the wall even better.

I've covered lots of stories with lots of different types of victims. The reason the bully is so successful is because he (or she) beats it into their victim that NO ONE WILL HELP YOU. It's like a sick mantra they instill in their prey.

But its not true. The victim just has to find enough courage to finally reach out for THE RIGHT KIND OF HELP.

But that's the rub. These victims, understandably, focus on immediate survival - not long term peace.

Its terrorism pure and simple and my heart bleeds for these victims and their children.

Keep up the good work!
Your fan,

Delilah said...

Diane Dimond you are one of my faves, but I have to disagree with you on a couple points.

"Family victims of police officers can also go over the head of the P.D. and appeal directly to the District Attorney's domestic abuse section (if there is one) or the state's Attorney General's office. They can find sanctuary at a church or a domestic abuse shelter."

Kathleen Savio did just that, more than once. Abuse shelters are generally a temporary haven and when time is up and the woman has nowhere else to go, it's usually back to the abuser because he has her convinced that it's the only way.

After looking into several cases of missing women, some police officer's wives, some not, it's clear that there are thousands of abusers getting away with murder.

Kathleen, Stacy, Lisa Stebic, Toni Bachman, Peggy Dianovsky, Jeri Lynn Duvall, Mary Badaracco, Karen Jo Smith, Kristen Anderson, Melanie Metheny, and more are most likely victims of domestic violence and have never been found.

Some of these women did exactly the things that you outlined above. It can always be said that a victim can reach out, but when her reaching out and getting caught brings on worse abuse, what choices does she have then?

Strategies and safety plans are not something that most abused women know about. We must make a greater effort to get that information into the hands of employers, hospitals, and court rooms, the very places that may be able to reach out to these targets and let them know they aren't up against the world alone.

Always a huge fan!

Anonymous said...

The concept that officer's wives and intimate partners can just 'reach out' and have help they need to expose the crimes committed by police officers against them, is SIMPLY NOT TRUE! In fact, it is the farthest thing from the truth!

Many reporters do not want to cover these stories; stories that might make them look like they are tarnishing the image of local police officers, departments, governmental staff and agencies. Even domestic violence agencies have 'conflicts of interests' in serving and assisting women abused by law enforcement.

I can personally attest to how officers' wives HAVE NOWHERE TO TURN FOR HELP! Even the reporters I have found, participate in the protection of officers, for many reasons; some of those reasons include fear for their own lives!

Even when a victim has evidence; countless police reports, audio recordings of death threats, logs and journals, witness statements, STILL, her pleas for assistance fall on deaf ears. Reporters, district attorneys, local judges and others, including EVEN the Victim of Crime Advocates themselves, participate in making sure the voices of abused officers' wives are SILENCED, SILENCED NOW and SILENCED FOREVER, using any means possible.

DD, if you would like to hear more, there are many more stories and examples, similar to what I am describing.

It is time for Officer-Involved Domestic Violence to end, and those who abuse their power and protect the officer-criminals need to be exposed and stripped of their power to do so, including removal from office. Protection of officers who abuse and murder their wives is eroding public trust. Everyone needs to wake up!

The bias and corruption exists in Officer-Involved Domestic Violence cases; it is not about the victims having 'courage to reach out for the RIGHT KIND OF HELP.'

There is no help that exists for wives abused by their police officer husbands.