Friday, July 2, 2010

Drew Peterson: "Practicing Perfection"

by Susan Murphy Milano

Since May 2009, former Bolingbrook, Illinois, police Sgt. Drew Peterson has been locked up behind bars. His trial for the alleged murder of Kathleen Savio, wife number three, begins on July 8. Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub on March 1, 2004.

In my opinion, the preparation and planning for Kathleen’s murder began long before her lifeless body was discovered. Her spirit and soul had been assaulted and her life threatened almost daily by a man hell-bent on power and control. Although there were numerous incidents of violence and calls for help to the house before July 2002, those documents have all but vanished. There is a hospital record that dates back to May 1993, but not much else exists.

It is no surprise. Peterson was the supervisor in charge of the guys patrolling the streets, answering only to him. So when Kathleen called Bolingbrook police for help, officers responded by arresting her -- on May 3, 2002, for domestic battery and disorderly conduct, and again on May 26, 2002, alleging Kathleen punched Stacy (later to become wife number four and then disappear).

During the months leading up to the discovery of Kathleen's corpse, officers routinely sat in their squad cars in front of her house, drinking coffee -- the ultimate 'screw you' for thousands of police officers' wives whose cries for help fall on deaf ears.

In March 2002, Drew Peterson and Kathleen Savio (right) filed for divorce. On March 11, 2002, Kathleen secured a temporary emergency order of protection. In an unusual move before the divorce was finalized, Kathleen also signed a power of attorney so Drew could buy a home just down the street with his then-underage new love interest. Victims of violence always wish their aggressive, abusive partners would move on to someone else. Kathleen’s strategy was brilliant. She got out of her own way; however humiliating at the time, she disarmed Peterson by waiving her rights to the property as a marital asset. Kathleen knew firsthand the danger she faced from Drew, a police officer and abusive husband, if she refused to sign the document. She signed it only out of pure fear.

When all her attempts failed to get help from the police -- those whose place is to serve and protect -- Kathleen Savio wrote letters to then-Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Fragale documenting Peterson’s alleged abuse. They included claims that in July 2002, Peterson held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her. But Savio was only further victimized when the state attorney’s office dropped the ball. The Illinois stalking law, which I was instrumental in seeing enacted, was already in full force and should have been used in Kathleen's case. Prosecutors should have filed separate felony stalking charges for threatening phone calls from Peterson and for each time he stalked her. They didn't -- not even when the court issued the emergency order of protection against him.

Sending the letters was a courageous move not only by a victim but by a police officer's wife. These letters, written and signed by Kathleen, would not see the light of day until a parade of media swarmed down on the home at Pheasant Chase Drive after news broke that Stacy Peterson, his fourth wife, had vanished.

There was Kathleen’s sister, Anna Doman, in the chaos of a potential crime scene, across the street behind the yellow crime tape, tightly holding a briefcase of letters and important documents, trying to hand them over to someone who would finally listen. Kathleen’s family knew that her death was no accident. They believed Drew Peterson murdered her.

Steph Watts, the then-Fox news producer for Greta Van Susteren, met with Doman, and she handed him the briefcase.

The contents in the briefcase documented the abuse from the grave. Stacy Peterson was now missing. This would be enough for State’s Attorney James Glasgow to obtain a judge’s order and exhume Kathleen Savio’s body four years after the coroner ruled her death an accident.

In my opinion, this was Peterson’s first mistake, believing that there was no need to have Kathleen’s remains cremated. His practice run at murder was successful. Believing in a false sense of his own invincibility, Peterson perfected his techniques on his next victim, wife number four, Stacy Peterson.


Maryann Miller said...

I remember thinking he killed Stacy when the story first broke. There was just something about his story that just didn't feel right.

Rose said...

This guy is absolutely a killer in my eyes, I'm so glad that he is behind bars, and not able to get away with this again. (let's hope not anyway)

Lisa Marie Michels said...

I wonder what the outcome would have been if Kathleen had the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit done. Would she have been able to use it at that final moment to keep herself alive? I know he would be in prison right now if she did have it.