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Grieving husbands or calculating killers?

The search for Stacy Peterson begins at home

MSNBC video
  Missing wife in Illinois
Oct. 31: Police searching for the missing wife of a police sergeant have reopened the case of his former wife’s death. Dan Abrams gets the latest from Lee Cowan and talks with reporter Don Gragias, analyst Clint van Zandt and attorney Monica Lindstrom.
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Clint Van Zandt

Drew Peterson, a 53-year-old Bolingbrook, Ill. police sergeant, is scheduled to retire in less than two weeks. Retirement is normally a happy time. But instead, he contemplates a missing wife and the reason she may have gone missing. 

Stacy Peterson, 23, is Sgt. Peterson’s fourth wife, someone he met when she was a 17-year-old local Bolingbrook town employee. He left his then-40-year-old wife, Kathleen Savio, and their two children to ultimately marry after Stacy after she got pregnant.

A history of violence, another dead wife
Sgt. Peterson appears to have a history of challenged relationships and bad luck. While little is known concerning his first two marriages, we know he met Kathleen in the early 1990s. 

But within five years of their marriage, someone started sending Kathleen letters suggesting that her husband was having an affair, something which resulted in her filing for divorce. This was due in part to Drew's relationship with the future Mrs. Stacy Peterson. 

Sgt. Peterson was alleged to have beaten his third wife severely enough to send her to the hospital, to have threatened to kill her and to have held a knife to her throat. According to Mrs. Peterson No. 3, who once obtained a restraining order against her husband and who would go on to divorce him in 2004, he wanted her dead and he had stated “he would burn her house down to shut her up.”

Evidently, Sgt. Peterson got his wish for Kathleen to shut up, and sometime after their divorce, she was found drowned in an empty bathtub in her home. Her ex-husband was allegedly returning their two children to Kathleen when he found the doors to her home locked.  He went to a neighbor’s house, summoned a locksmith who eventually opened the door to Kathleen’s home. He then had a neighbor search the house.  It was the neighbor who found Kathleen’s body in the tub. 

The question is this: Is this the normal response of a trained police officer, or of someone who knows how to take his time, how to stage a crime scene, and how to create plausible deniability while establishing a workable alibi?

We know that many people die of freak accidents. Others, on the other hand, may be the victim of a crime of passion in which one partner takes out his anger, frustration and rage on the other (sometimes resulting in an unplanned assault that may even lead to death). Lastly there are boyfriends or husbands who make up their mind that they want a physical divorce, but don't want the legal and financial responsibilities attached to such an action. 

That kind of man
When you think of this type of person, think of Californian Scott Peterson in the death of his pregnant wife, Laci. Or actor Robert Blake, who was charged, but later acquitted of the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley. And then there’s the case of Utah resident Mark Hacking who shot his wife in her sleep, disposing of her body in a Dumpster on its way to the landfill. 

These crimes or suspected crimes may have all had an element of anger and rage, but they also had an element of planning.  The murdererad thought out the disposal of his victim’s body, or at least considered how to cover his tracks and his DNA.      


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