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Why it makes sense to suspect Drew Peterson

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Sgt. Peterson acknowledges a telephone call from Stacy on the day of her disappearance in which she allegedly indicates that she was leaving him. It is unknown if this call has been verified by independent investigation.

In an e-mail to a friend, Stacy described her husband as “controlling, manipulative and somewhat abusive,” asking her friend to pray for her for wisdom, protection and strength.

Some believe that had Drew Peterson not been a police officer, the alleged domestic abuse and subsequent death of his third wife, and his alleged abuse of his current wife, would have brought him to the attention of the criminal justice system. 

In many police departments, allegations of domestic abuse and the issuance of a restraining order would have caused the officer to have his firearm taken away. His supervisors would have placed him on some kind of administrative duty until the allegations were resolved (the so-called “rubber gun squad.”) 

In a recent media interview by his current chief of police, no indication was given of any type of such action ever being taken against him.

Sgt. Peterson was due to retire or had otherwise indicated his desire to retire in November 2007. 

Love, honor, murder
A similar story in the news has been the case of Lisa Stebic, a Chicago-area wife and mother who, like Stacy Peterson, was alleged by her husband to have simply walked out of their home last April. She hasn't been found, either. Where have all of these runaway wives and moms gone, if, in fact, they really had the chance to run away?

Sometimes a crime represents the anger or rage of the perpetrator. In December 2006, 49-year-old Ellen Robb, wife of University of Pennsylvania Professor Rafael Robb, was bludgeoned to death. She died in her home as she made cookies for their children. Professor Robb has been charged with his wife’s murder and the suggested motive was their impending divorce. Somehow the words “love, honor and obey” seem to have lost their meaning, at least for some couples. 

For others, these words have been hammered into a weapon, one that can be used by one against the other, often resulting in the death of a spouse or significant other. The children become the ultimate victim.

But with Stacy Peterson, we just don’t know. She grew up with an alcoholic, abusive father who reportedly used to tell her “you better be nothing like your mother.” Stacy's own mother disappeared a decade ago.  Perhaps it was the desire for stability that made her to date and marry a man a year older than her father, another male authority figure.

Case leads
Should Stacy have been able to squeeze in a extramarital relationship with all her responsibilities — her two biological children, caring for Sgt. Peterson's children, her schooling, and his alleged obsessive, stalking-like behavior — it could be expected that Sgt. Peterson would likely know the identity of her lover. He would have already provided police this information.

Now authorities take a new look at the death of Kathleen Savio and continue in their search for Stacy. Peterson has been seen wearing a cover on his face, indicating he didn’t want to be identified. This is perhaps why he's been absent from the ranks of those currently searching for his missing wife.  

The challenge for authorities is to either find Stacy or prove that some type of crime has been committed. This is hard to do in the absence of any evidence. There have, after all, been runaway brides. Missing women have returned of their own volition or have been recovered from their kidnappers.

In Stacy's case, friends and relatives hope for the best while preparing for the worst.  But in this case, the worst — like in the case of Lisa Stebic — may simply be the not knowing.

Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC analyst. His web site, provides readers with security-related information.

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