Video: Drew Peterson looks to the future

By Hoda Kotb Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/21/2007 5:38:04 PM ET 2007-12-21T22:38:04
TRANSCRIPT

In late October, cities and towns around the country were all tricked out in Halloween decorations. Up and down the neighborhoods, families prepared for fright night.

But this year, the village of Bolingbrook, a Chicago suburb, was plunged into a real-life mystery far more chilling than any Halloween haunting could ever be.

On Oct. 28, Stacy Peterson, 23 years old -- wife, mother, sister -- suddenly vanished. She went missing and is yet to be found.

Her husband Drew said she'd run off with another man.

Drew Peterson: I’m still in love with Stacy and I miss her, so... (he puts up hand and walks away)

But her family suspected foul play and launched a massive search.

Volunteers combed through forests and fields. Police took to the air and the water.

But it wouldn't go away. As the days dragged by with no sign of Stacy -- and no word from her either -- the questions piled up. So did the suspicions and the speculation about the role of Stacy’s husband Drew. He says all the attention forced him to speak out.

Drew Peterson: I’m really being portrayed as a monster here. Nobody's defending me. Nobody's stepping up to say, "No, he's a decent guy. He helps people. He does this. He does that." So somebody's got to say something.

Tonight we'll hear from Drew Peterson, along with other family members and friends, as we try to piece together what really happened to Stacy Peterson.

Drew Peterson: I don't believe she's missing. I believe she's where she wants to be.

Drew Peterson was one of Bolingbrook’s finest -- a police sergeant with more than two decades of experience -- when he met Stacy in 2001. At the time Peterson was 47 years old. Stacy, a high-school graduate, was just 17 -- 30 years his junior.

Hoda Kotb: I know people said, "What’s going on there?"

Drew Peterson: Sure.

But Peterson says he squared the age gap with Stacy.

Drew Peterson: I said, "Do you mind that I’m 47?" and she goes, "Do you mind that I’m 17?" Just like, kind of like, a weird feeling. But I-- she was beautiful. And it was exciting having a young, beautiful woman interested in me. And I purSued the relationship.

And, he says, Stacy did too.

Drew Peterson: Every time I tried to get out of the relationship, she would purSue me. Leaving little roses and notes on my car and stuff. So it was like it was exciting. So--

Hoda Kotb: So was it love like that?

Drew Peterson: Pretty quick. Pretty quick. So--

Hoda Kotb: So the relationship started. She was like a kid, I mean, in a way. Just very naive.

Drew Peterson: Well. she was very mature for her age in a lot of senses because she had a very tough upbringing.

Stacy Ann Cales was the third of five children born to Anthony and Christie Cales. Two siblings died young. Court records show that Stacy’s mom was in and out of trouble with the law. Her mother took off for good in 1998 and her dad began moving the family around the country. Pam Bosco is close to the family --and close to Stacy.

Pam Bosco: Oh, she was a darling. Bubbly, warm caretaker, you know. Just very, very, very sweet. Very much a family girl. Someone who wanted a family and wanted to be part of a family.

And Drew Peterson, his friend Steve Carcerano says, is a likeable guy.

Steve Carcerano: Drew's a nice guy. He's a happy guy. Happy go lucky. A jokester type of guy.

So the nice-guy police sergeant must have seemed like a dream come true when he started romancing the bubbly teen.

Pam Bosco: It’s her willingness to get close I think that made her available probably to an older person. She was just looking for something like that you know, the warmth-- maybe the possibility he could bring a family to her.

Peterson had a house in the suburbs, a good job, and spare change.

Kerry Simmons: I know he had bought her a car. Furnished the apartment. And it was -- you know, a lot of things that she didn't have.

Kerry Simmons is Stacy’s stepsister.

Kerry Simmons: I mean, she had everything she needed. But you know, Drew was giving her more. And she's 17 years old so -- it looked good to her.

It looked good. It felt good. It was good.

Kerry Simmons: She was head over heels over him. She really did like him.

Peterson fell hard too.

Steve Carcerano: When he met Stacy, it seemed like he had a glow in his eye. You know, she's young. She's attractive. He seemed very happy with her.

But Stacy’s family was not glowing. Just the opposite -- they told her to run, not walk from the new guy in her life.

Kerry Simmons: We were just "You're nuts. You're crazy. This guy is well over 30 years older than you. He still has a wife and you should not be involved with this guy."

Not only did Peterson have a wife, she was his third wife. And he had four children, all told, including two young sons who lived with him. Despite that, despite the warnings from her family, Stacy stayed with him. In 2003, his divorce came through.

Hoda Kotb: So -- how'd you propose to her?

Drew Peterson: I proposed to her on several occasions. Just asked her to marry me. First couple times she said no. Third time she said yes.

They married in a Bolingbrook field in October 2003. Stacy was 19; she'd just given birth to their first child. Later they had another child together and eventually they took in Drew's sons from his previous marriage.

Stacy seemed to be living her dream. By all accounts he was a good dad and she was an awesome mom.

Kerry Simmons: Never saw her upset with those kids. I mean she loved those kids so much. Those were like-- they were her life. And I think she really wanted to give those kids the life that she felt she didn't have, or the opportunities that she didn't have growing up.

She did birthday parties, marshmallow roasts, and backyard barbeques. Any excuse for a family get-together. Any excuse for fun with the kids. This year her youngest, 2-year-old Lacy, was supposed to go trick-or-treating for the first time.

Pam Bosco: She was so looking forward to having Lacy get dressed up and actually walk around the block and participate with Halloween.

It never happened. Three days before Halloween, Stacy Peterson’s husband told the world she'd run away. Vanished.

Stunned and stressed, Stacy’s family and friends told the police that something was terribly wrong.

Kerry Simmons: She would never leave those kids. Absolutely not. She took those kids everywhere with her.

"We want that girl back," said Stacy's neighbor Sharon Bychowski. "We want her to come home for her children. We need to find Stacy. We want closure."

But closure would not come anytime soon. The Halloween decorations would come down, Thanksgiving would come and go , and Stacy Peterson would still be missing.

The Illinois state police were in charge of the case. The Bolingbrook police department had handed it over because husband Drew was one of their own.

And day after day, Stacy’s family and friends organized volunteers into search parties. Drew Peterson did not join in. He told anyone who'd listen that they were looking in the wrong place.

Hoda Kotb: You don't think she's out there in the woods somewhere? Or?

Drew Peterson: No, I’d be looking on a beach.

Hoda Kotb: What do you-- what do you mean?

Drew Peterson: A beach somewhere, or somewhere warm, or--

Hoda Kotb: You think she ran off with someone and is just enjoying herself on a beach somewhere?

Drew Peterson: I believe that. But I’m guessing.

Stacy's family never bought that story. Instead they urged investigators to focus on the Bolingbrook police sergeant and the state of the Peterson’s marriage.

Stacy and Drew had been married barely four years when she vanished. Her step-sister Kerry Simmons says early on they seemed to be doing well.

Kerry Simmons: They looked happy, they acted happy and they looked, you know they looked fine.

But Kerry says that slowly, surely the Peterson’s marriage unraveled. She blames the 30-year age gap.

Kerry Simmons: I think he just started to wonder more and more every day that you know Stacy was going to leave him. She's 20, 22, he's 50. You know, she may possibly find somebody else.

Family and friends told investigators the two seemed to be battling constantly -- that Stacy said Drew would abuse her verbally, criticize her so severely that she felt insecure about her looks and had several plastic surgeries.

Pam Bosco: Just putdown kind of stuff and just very demeaning things. That's why she just went out and had these cosmetic things done to her body.

And that wasn't all. Stacy told those close to her that Drew got physical too.

Kerry Simmons: He threw her down the stairs. There was an instance where he had knocked her into the TV. I think one time he actually picked her up and threw her across the room. I mean she's small. She's 100 pounds.

Kerry says she begged Stacy to leave Drew when she heard about the violence.

Kerry Simmons: The only thing I could tell her was "You need to get out. You know, we can get a truck, help you move, pack your stuff up and get you out of there in a matter of hours.”

But she says Stacy was paralyzed by fear.

Kerry Simmons: She felt that if she left that house and took those kids, he would come after her.

Drew worked as a night watch supervisor for the Bolingbrook police. Neighbor Sharon Bychowski says he would check in at home like clockwork throughout his shift.

Sharon Bychowski: So he would go in at five, he would do his roll call, he'd come back. He would eat here in uniform, then he'd go back out on the beat. He'd stay an hour or so. Come back.

Those close to Stacy say the constant checks did not end there. They told investigators Drew would actually follow his wife in his car when she went out.

Kerry Simmons: She went to breakfast with one of the other sisters and he would circle the parking lot to make sure that she was only in there with her other sister. And not a guy.

Family and friends say when Drew wasn't following her by car, he was tracking her by phone.

Pam Bosco: We went to get our hair cut and he called her eight times. He was always there.

At one point, Pam says, Stacy made a startling discovery in her husband's briefcase.

Pam Bosco: There was her phone record completely written and documented where she was. Who the phone call was to. Stuff like that.

Sharon Bychowski: So she went out and got herself a new cell phone and gave me the bag to hold. “Here -- I don't want Drew to know I have this. The box, because it has the SIM card information and things he could use to track my calls again.”

In September 2006, Stacy was devastated when half-sister Tina died of colon cancer. Those who know her well say Tina’s death may have spurred her to take stock of her three-year-old marriage.

Sharon Bychowski: In the last year since her sister passed away, she was really struggling -- to end the marriage. She really wanted to move out. Or have Drew move out. The end of that process. She wanted it over with.

But while Stacy’s family portrayed it as a marriage gone bad, Drew insisted he loved his wife, denied that they were arguing constantly and that he abused Stacy. Furthermore, through his attorney, Drew said he did not track his wife by car or cell. According to Drew whatever his wife wanted, she got.

Drew Peterson: Stacy was spoiled. I pampered her. It's-- a lot of that's my fault. Stacy wanted it, she got it. High-end jewelry. Name it. She got it.

Sharon Bychowski: Most recently he bought her a motorcycle to ask her if it would buy him three more months with her.

But in the days leading up to her disappearance, friends say Stacy Peterson was more determined than ever to leave the marriage.

After Stacy Peterson vanished, the family home came under siege.

Drew Peterson: I can stand here and cry if that would make you happy. I'm doing the best I can with a hard situation. The best I can.

But as the weeks went by, Drew Peterson’s "best" began to look like his worst.

Drew Peterson: Watch this. I am not the typical person I am. I'm normally I am a lot more humorous like that.

Investigators have had little to say publicly as they probe Stacy’s disappearance, searching woods and waterways and conducting interviews. Now this is what we know about Stacy’s last days with friends and family.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, eleven days before Stacy disappeared, a friend says he got an email from her. It was the eve of her fourth wedding anniversary. This what the email said:

(E-mail from Stacy)
I am finding that the relationship I am in is controlling, manipulative and somewhat abusive.

That same day Stacy left a phone message for her dad.

(Voicemail from Stacy)
Hey dad, it's me, Stacy. I just wanted to call you and tell I love you. I also wanted to give you my new phone number. OK. Love you. Bye.

Thursday, Oct. 18 was the anniversary. Drew gave Stacy a new bauble -- a diamond ring. If she thought it was another attempt to buy time with her, she wasn't saying so.

Pam Bosco: She showed this ring. A big diamond ring. And she was just very happy about it. Showing it off to everyone.

On Friday, Oct. 19, Stacy’s friend Scott Rossetto met her at a restaurant. Scott says the two of them had been exchanging flirty texts but they were not involved romantically. According to Scott, Drew showed up at the restaurant.

Scott Rossetto: Asked me how'd I’d feel if my wife went off with another guy … Just kept staring at her. He sat with us for about a good 15, 20 minutes.

Thursday Oct. 25, was only three days before Stacy disappeared. Family friend Pam Bosco says she got a call from Stacy, who asked if she could rent a property.

Pam Bosco: She goes, “I have to get out of here, you know. I’m not feeling very safe. I'm afraid he's going to hurt me.”

Pam offered advice and later told investigators that Stacy had reached a decision. She was ready to file for divorce.

Pam Bosco: She was going to look for a lawyer.

Saturday, Oct. 27 was the day before Stacy went missing. Pam says Stacy’s sister Cassandra went to the Peterson home for dinner. Cassandra told Pam that Drew came in looking "really angry.”

Pam Bosco: She's serving him food acting as polite as a wife can be and he just looked at her with this angry look like he was about to kill her.

Drew was on the clock that night. He went back to work and the sisters shared what would be a final heart to heart, with chilling words from Stacy.

Pam Bosco: She said Stacy leaned forward and gave her a hug and said “I love you … if anything happens to me, he killed me. It wasn't an accident.”

Sunday, Oct. 28 was the day Stacy vanished. Apparently it began normally. Drew finished his overnight shift around 3 a.m.

Drew Peterson: I came home. I came to sleep. I talked to her briefly in the morning.

Stacy's family and friends said she was supposed to help paint a house that day. Investigators were told a friend called her about the plans around 10 a.m.

Pam Bosco: He said, "Where are you?" "I’m in bed yet," she said. "I’m still in bed." And she hadn't gotten up yet to paint this house they were planning on painting that day.

Drew told investigators he saw Stacy around 11 a.m. for the last time. It’s unclear what happened next but it seems he went back to sleep.

Drew Peterson: She was gone when I woke up.

Hoda Kotb: And you-- and you knew she wasn't going to come back or… ?

Drew Peterson: I left her alone all day. I didn't bother her. I thought-- I was under the impression she was going to be spending time with her grandfather.

But that didn't happen.

Tension in Stacy’s family ramped up, Pam says, when Stacy’s sister Cassandra couldn't reach her in the afternoon.

Pam Bosco: The phone was off and she couldn't get through. That's when the concern started to build, because of the night before.

Pam says Cassandra punched her cell over and over, trying to reach her sister.

Pam Bosco and Cassandra could not get through on that cell phone to Stacy.

Drew, for his part, has told reporters he did not hear from Stacy until about 9 a.m. that night when he says she called him with a devastating announcement: she was leaving him.  Investigators have reported the last activity on Stacy’s phone was about the same time .

According to Pam, Cassandra and Drew spoke on the phone at 11:30 p.m.

Pam Bosco: That's when she heard the rustling of the keys. He's out of breath-- that kind of stuff.  And she-- he said that, "She's-- she left me. She went with another man. She went to the Bahamas or something. She took her bikini. The passport's missing and she took money."

Then, two days after Stacy disappeared, the police received a visitor -- with a bizarre story.

Walter Martineck: I told them everything that happened, you know.

Water Martineck, Jr. barely knows Drew Peterson. But he's a good friend and neighbor of Drew's stepbrother Tom Morphey. On the night of Sunday, Oct. 28, Morphey was desperate to talk so Walter invited him over.

Walter Martineck: He goes, "I've got to talk to you. You-- you can't--" he put his arms on my shoulder, "you cannot tell anyone." I go, "Calm down. What's the matter? What's the matter?" He goes, "I think I just helped move Stacy with Drew." I go, huh?

Walter says Morphey paced the garage saying he'd helped Drew move a sealed container that night from an upstairs bedroom in the Peterson house into Drew's SUV. Morphey was somehow convinced the container held Stacy’s body, even though no one knew she was missing at that point. Walter says he struggled to make sense of a wild story.

Hoda Kotb: What did he say in detail?

Walter Martineck: He goes, "I went with Drew to his house. He asked me to help him move something, and I said 'Yeah.'" I go, "That's understood, but what do you mean, Stacy?" And he goes, "Well, we lifted blue container out of-- out of his room down into his truck." "Well, how do you know it's Stacy?" "It was warm." And the way he said "warm," it's like it was warm.

Hoda Kotb: So, he thought there was a body in there?

Walter Martineck: That's what he said. I go, "Did you see it?" He goes, "No. But in my heart, it was there."

But the puzzle remained -- why would Tom Morphey ever think he'd helped move Stacy’s body in a blue plastic container?

Walter Martineck: Because, like, from what Tom said Stacy was filing for a divorce. And Drew had to be out and apparently Drew wanted everything to himself.

One final note about the day Stacy disappeared: Bolingbrook police say Drew called in sick to work.

On Friday, Nov. 9, Illinois state police called Stacy’s disappearance "a potential homicide." The police named a suspect for the first time:  Stacy’s husband Drew.

As the Stacy Peterson investigation went into month two, husband Drew was pulling big interest.

The authorities had named him a suspect but filed no charges.

Drew Peterson: I think I was a suspect from the beginning

At the same time, investigators were taking a fresh look at something that took place years before Stacy went missing, an event that raised spine-tingling questions: the mysterious fate of the previous Mrs. Peterson.

In the late 1990s Drew Peterson moved in here with then-wife Kathy and their sons.

Steve Carcerano: We got introduced to them. And he came over to the house and he told me directly if I ever need anything in his garage, a lawn mower or a tool, anything -- his garage is always open to us.

Neighbor Steve Carcerano liked Drew immediately.

Steve Carcerano: Drew's a very happy person. He is a jokester. He'd kid around a lot. Great with his kids. And a good person.

He seemed like a good husband too.

Steve Carcerano: My first impression of Drew and Kathy was a happy couple when they first moved there.

Drew says he met Kathy Savio on a blind date in 1992.

Drew Peterson: Another policeman's wife fixed us up. She was a lot of fun. We did things we liked. We went to shows and stuff.

Kathy was in her late twenties, working as an accountant. She told her sister Sue Doman that the Bolingbrook police officer was a great guy.

Hoda Kotb: There's something about a police officer, I think, that makes your average girl feel safe.

Sue Doman: He was funny. He talked-- you know, he would joke around, got along with everybody. Went out of his way to meet people. She was very impressed by that.

And when Sue met her sister's new boyfriend, she was very impressed too -- which seemed to be just what he wanted.

Sue Doman: He was going out of his way to impress us.

Hoda Kotb: How?

Sue Doman: "Hey, how're you doing'?" Wanted to know, what do you. "Where do you work? Is there anything I can do? Do you need anything?" You know, "Hey, you know, I love your sister." Would hug her and kiss her in front of us. Just a very happy person, joking around.

It wasn't long before he decided to pop the question.

Drew Peterson: I think she was lying in bed one day. And I just crawled in with her and I put a ring on her hand. And she just came up and she said, "Wow." And "Wow."

Sue Doman: She called me and she said "Guess what? I’m getting married." And I said, "You're getting married?" And she said, "You know, I’m getting older. I want to have a family. And I really love him. And he's really good, and he can provide very well for me.”

Hoda Kotb: How'd you feel as her sister, at that point?

Sue Doman: I was happy for her. Because she just-- you know, she's my baby sister, I wanted the best for her.

Kathy and Drew were married in 1992. Two sons followed. By the time the family moved here, both boys were in school. But by then Drew says, there were strains in the marriage

Drew Peterson: Our relationship started deteriorating. She was more-- she was easy-- easily agitated and more demanding.

Hoda Kotb: When you say "easily agitated," what do you mean?

Drew Peterson: She would snap quickly.

Sue Doman remembers it differently, and her story is eerily similar to the story Stacy Peterson’s family would tell years later.

Sue Doman: He would call her names.

Hoda Kotb: What kind of names?

Sue Doman: He would-- horrible, swearing names. “Bitch,” “whore.” "You look like a dog." She needed to go to Jenny Craig. She needed to do anything to make herself look better because she was looking horrible.

Sue says there was violence, too. She says Kathy told her she was beaten. Hospital records show Kathy landed in an emergency room on one occasion and the records reflect the story Kathy told her sister.

Sue Doman: He took her head and took her hair, she had long hair, and he beat her against a wooden table. He was angry at her.

Hoda Kotb: What kind of injuries did she sustain?

Sue Doman: She had a laceration on her head. She became dazed. She had black and blue marks all over her.

In late 2001, Kathy received an anonymous letter that shattered her world. It said her husband was having an affair with a teenager. Kathy would soon discover the teen was Stacy. Sue Doman happened to call her sister right after Kathy confronted Drew.

Sue Doman: I heard yelling. He said, "Hang up on that bitch." And he slammed the phone down. She called me back and she said, "I’m on my way to get an order of protection." She said, "Drew threw me against the refrigerator. He was chasing me with a stick." And I said, "what's-- what's going on?" She said, "I got an anonymous letter. Someone from the police department said I was the laughing stock of the town.” He was having an affair. And he said it wasn't true.

But it was true. Kathy did file for an order of protection from her husband some months later.

Hoda Kotb: There was a quote in it. And the quote from your sister was, "He wants me dead."

Sue Doman: Yes.

Hoda Kotb: She feared for her life.

Sue Doman: Yes, she did.

Hoda Kotb: She thought that Drew was going to kill her.

Sue Doman: She knew he was going to.

Hoda Kotb: She knew?

Sue Doman: She knew.

After Kathy Peterson received an anonymous letter in late 2001 telling her about Drew's affair with Stacy, she filed for divorce. Sue Doman is Kathy’s sister.

Sue Doman: She was sad because she was losing her husband. But she was happy in a roundabout way because now she was able to live her life, be free. Not be battered, not be mentally abused.

That spring, Drew moved into a house with Stacy a few blocks away. He and Kathy were still arguing fiercely. His friend and former neighbor Steve Carcerano saw a couple of ugly spats.

Steve Carcerano: Kathy was always angry with Drew when Stacy came into play. She would be complaining about the age thing a lot. And you know, I even pulled her aside a couple of times and said "It doesn't really matter about the age Kathy, whether she's 18 or whether she's 28 or 42. You know he found somebody else."

The Bolingbrook police, Drew's fellow officers, were called to Kathy’s house 17 times over a two year period for cases involving Drew. Some were custody disputes. Twice Kathy was charged with battery -- and twice she was found not guilty. Once she reported a violent, even menacing, act. In July 2002, she told police, Drew surprised her in the house and threatened her with a knife.

Sue Doman: She was coming downstairs with a clothes basket to do clothes. And he was dressed up in a SWAT uniform. He grabbed her and held a knife to her throat. He was really mad.

Hoda Kotb: About?

Sue Doman: That he had to pay so much money of child support. He was angry. He was going to kill her. And she said, "You know, I thought I would never see my boys again. I thought I would never see them again."

Hoda Kotb: She was that terrified, huh?

Sue Doman: Yes.

Hoda Kotb: So--

Sue Doman: And she told him, "You go ahead and kill me. You just go ahead and do that now."

Sue says Kathy told her Drew pulled back. However, when Kathy filed a police report she said she didn't want Drew arrested and declined to get another order of protection. Drew, for his part, denied the whole thing and was never charged.

Sue Doman: He convinced everyone and anyone that she was absolutely crazy, mentally ill.

Hoda Kotb: Is that what he was telling people?

Sue Doman: Yes.

Sue says all along Kathy was telling her family that she was afraid of Drew -- deathly afraid.

Sue Doman: She told me she felt she was not going to make it. He was going to kill her and it was going to look like an accident.

By March 1, 2004, Kathy and Drew were divorced, although the financial settlement was pending. About 9 p.m. that night, Steve Carcerano was returning home from work.

Steve Carcerano: And Drew happened to come down the street. And pulled up next to me in his squad car. And he thinks something might be wrong because he's gone trying to drop off the kids for the past day and a half. And that's not like Kathy not to be there when the kids were being dropped off.

Drew had a locksmith open the door to the house -- he says nobody had a key. He asked Steve and another neighbor, Mary, to go upstairs and look for Kathy while he waited below.

Steve Carcerano: And we went up there and what we found it's something that I’ll never forget.

He saw her when he entered the bathroom.

Steve Carcerano: I looked towards the back of the bathroom. There was a balloon type object. And as I walked closer to it, it was Kathy laying there naked.

Mary started screaming. Drew came running up.

Hoda Kotb: What did you see?

Drew Peterson: She was in a dry bathtub. And I believe I remember her laying face down and her hair was wet. But I don't remember any blood soaked hair, or anything like that.

Hoda Kotb: Because the, I think the initial police report mentions there was a gash on her--

Drew Peterson: I didn't see that.

Hoda Kotb: An inch-long gash.

Drew Peterson: I didn't see that.

Steve Carcerano saw Drew rush in.

Steve Carcerano: What Drew immediately did upon entering the bathroom is he checked her pulse. And then he started screaming out, "What am I going to tell my children? What am I going to tell my children?" And very distraught. You know, I looked right into his eyes. And he got very emotional, very quickly. And then he called the police department.

The Bolingbrook force handed the investigation over to the Illinois state police and a coroner's jury later ruled Kathy’s death an accidental drowning -- despite the facts that didn't seem to fit: the empty bathtub, the bruises on Kathy’s body. But that's where things stood until Stacy disappeared this fall.

James Glasgow (Will County state's attorney): I read the inquest. I looked at the crime scene photographs.

Twelve days after Stacy went missing, the Will County state's attorney, who was not in office when Kathy died, made a stunning announcement: Kathy’s death would be re-investigated. Her body exhumed and autopsied again.

James Glasgow: With 29 years of experience, there was no doubt in my mind it wasn't an accident. That was clear.

In his request for permission to exhume the body, the state's attorney went even further, saying the evidence is consistent with the "staging" of an accident to conceal a homicide.

Hoda Kotb: That's a very strong statement coming from a state official. What do you think of that?

Sue Doman: I was thinking, "thank God." Thank God because now you're looking at it again.

By now, the media glare was white-hot. And it wasn't long before women in Drew Peterson’s past started speaking out. Peterson, the Bolingbrook bon vivant, has been married four times. And that doesn't count the broken engagement.

Kyle Piry: I gave him the ring back and said that I just wasn't ready to get married.

Kyle Piry was engaged to Drew Peterson for four months in the early ‘80s. She says after she broke it off, he got physical.

Kyle Piry: We had gotten into an argument and at some point he pushed me. And I did fall on the floor. And at that point he straddled over me, in a police hold I believe it is. Pinned my arms against the floor with his knee and just verbally abused me.

She says she got away and did not press charges. But she says that didn't stop Drew from following her and harassing her for months afterwards.

Kyle Piry: He would pull me over and give me tickets for, I-- I remember, you know, bald tires.

Hoda Kotb: Bald tires?

Kyle Piry: And I thought that can't even be a real thing. And it is.

Hoda Kotb: What did you say to him? I mean, you saw him come up to your window obviously.

Kyle Piry: I thought he was, like, you've got to be kidding me. And he always had this smirkish smile on his face. I mean, it was a game-- it was a game to him.

Drew denied Piry's claims -- all of them. The physical abuse. The stalking. The harassment. And says that he's the one who broke off the engagement -- not her. Twenty-five years and three marriages later, Drew Peterson is at the center of a storm of suspicion and speculation over what happened to two of those wives.

Stacy Peterson’s Bolingbrook neighborhood is now decked out in Christmas lights. The jack o'lanterns of late October are long gone. So too is any hope friends and family once had that Stacy is still alive.

Pam Bosco: It's very difficult. Stacy was heavily involved in the season and, you know, she was a big part of the family, pulling it all together.

Stacy's husband Drew said much the same thing -- with a twist.

(Peterson speaking to reporters outside)

Drew Peterson: It's real tough. So…

Reporter: Tell us why.

Drew Peterson: She always made it special. So I’m going to cry right now, so why don't you guys back off, OK?

He has been playing hide-and-speak with the media for almost two months. But several weeks ago, Drew Peterson talked extensively with NBC news. He said he pampered 23-year-old Stacy because she loved the spotlight.

Drew Peterson: Stacy wanted she got it. I mean she wanted a boob job, I got her a boob job. She wanted a tummy tuck, she got that. She wanted braces, Lasik surgery, hair removal, anything. Stacy loved male attention. And she loved being' anywhere and having people pay attention to her.

Hoda Kotb: Uh-huh.

Drew Peterson: And we did all these repairs on her. When she wanted it, she got it.

Hoda Kotb: I can't help but notice when you talk about her, you talk about her in the past tense.

Drew Peterson: No.

Hoda Kotb: She loved this. She was like that. I'm just hearing it.

Drew Peterson: That's just because she's not with me anymore. And it's past tense what she did.

What she did, he says, was dump him for another man after scarcely four years of marriage.

Hoda Kotb: Why are you so convinced that she walked away from this marriage?

Drew Peterson: Well, there are certain things I don't want to talk about due to an ongoing investigation. So I’m just going to not answer that question.

Hoda Kotb: But some basic things you have discussed is you thought that she was leaving you, right? For someone else?

Drew Peterson: Correct.

Hoda Kotb: Where did you get that idea?

Drew Peterson: Again, I don't want to talk about certain things. And that's one of them.

Hoda Kotb: Do you find it odd that that in the weeks since she's been gone, not a phone call? Not a note? Not “how are the kids?”

Drew Peterson: I find it very odd.

Hoda Kotb: So does that make you-- does that make you have pause? Like, "Huh, I wonder what happened to her?"

Drew Peterson: Well her sister died about a year ago. And ever since then-- she's been going through a lot. She's been very agitated with the kids lately. Agitated with me. It's this--

Hoda Kotb: In what way?

Drew Peterson: Well she snaps. She'll snap on you for, like, simple things. And things that normally she would, you know, blow off, she would snap on.

As he talked about Stacy and the half-sister who died --

Drew Peterson: She prayed very hard for her sister's recovery.

… he seemed to be ambushed by emotion.

Hoda Kotb: Can I ask you about-- you know, you're a hardnosed tough cop. And you're very emotional. What is it? What's-- what's-- what's going on here?

Drew Peterson: Well different things touch me. Kids, you know.

Hoda Kotb: But on this particular thing, is it her sister? What was it that sparked that in you?

Drew Peterson: Her emotion, because it hit her very hard.

But he quickly regained his composure.

Hoda Kotb: There were multiple reports saying that Stacy asked for a divorce two days before she went missing. Is that true?

Drew Peterson: No, I don't think it was two days. She-- Stacy was on an emotional roller coaster from month to month. And I’m not trying to be funny here, but seemed to go with her menstrual cycle. If she was PMS-ing, she wanted a divorce. And if she wasn't, everything was good and romantic and happy.

Hoda Kotb: Did she ever formally ask for a divorce? Did she file for divorce?

Drew Peterson: No.

Hoda Kotb: She just-- did she say it, "I want a divorce," before?

Drew Peterson: On many occasions.

Hoda Kotb: Many occasions.

Drew Peterson: But then the next day, or next couple days-- it was romantic again, and good again.

But what about that email Stacy sent to a friend days before she disappeared?

Hoda Kotb: "As I mature with age, I’m finding that the relationship I’m in is controlling, manipulative, and somewhat abusive. If you could keep me in your prayers, I could use some wisdom, protection, and strength." That's a pretty clear cut e-mail.

Drew Peterson: Exactly. But that sounds, if you talk to anybody that knows her, that sounds nothing like she would say.

Hoda Kotb: What do you mean?

Drew Peterson: And that doesn't sound like her vocabulary. It doesn't sound like something she would say.

Hoda Kotb: So do you think this friend has made up this e-mail?

Drew Peterson: Possibly.

Hoda Kotb: Does it seem sort of weird?

Drew Peterson: The majority of her friends and family didn't care for me.

Hoda Kotb: But why not? Why do you think?

Drew Peterson: Well, I was this older man with this younger woman and it bothered a lot of people.

Some of those same people said she'd also warned that if she disappeared it would not be an accident.

Drew Peterson: I can't explain that because I just have no explanation for that what she was saying, if in fact she was saying that. Or if in fact that's being fabricated somehow.

And as for the fact that he is a suspect in a disappearance that is being investigated as a potential homicide, Drew, now a former cop -- he resigned last month -- shrugged it off.

Drew Peterson: I expected them to do it sooner.

Hoda Kotb: Really? How come?

Drew Peterson: Oh, the husband's always the suspect. They just made it official. So-- but I believe they were believing I had something to do with it from the beginning.

There is also the new investigation into the death of third wife Kathy.

Hoda Kotb: Are you at all concerned about what the exhumation of the body and the autopsy will show?

Drew Peterson: I don't think anything would be different. So, if they -- and find something, it by no means had anything to do with me. So.

Hoda Kotb: Would you want to know who did it, if in fact, it was?

Drew Peterson: Oh, yeah. Sure. Sure. Without a doubt.

Drew Peterson has not been charged in Kathy’s death or Stacy’s disappearance. Official autopsy results are still to come in Kathy’s case. An autopsy conducted for the family concluded her death was a homicide.

Meantime, in the hunt for Stacy, investigators are looking for evidence -- traces of blue plastic, blood or fingernails -- in Drew's car. They've been searching a nearby canal. Could a stepbrother's wild tale now be a working theory? Was a blue plastic container holding Stacy’s body hauled out of the Peterson house and dumped?

There was more to the step-brother's story.

A day after he said he helped Drew, he tried to commit suicide. Once his story hit the headlines, Drew Peterson’s attorney took to the airwaves to deny the whole thing and discredit Drew's stepbrother.

Brodsky: He's simply not a credible witness.

But the headlines kept coming.

Next, Stacy’s pastor spoke out saying she told him Drew had admitted killing Kathy.

Hoda Kotb: I need you to be 100% honest with me. Did you kill your wife Stacy?

Drew Peterson: No.

Hoda Kotb: No question at all in your mind?

Drew Peterson: No question at all in my mind.

Hoda Kotb: What about your wife Kathy?

Drew Peterson: No.

Hoda Kotb: Did you have anything to do with the death of Kathy?

Drew Peterson: Nothing.

Hoda Kotb: Someone said either you're guilty of both of these, or you have the worst luck in the world.

Drew Peterson: You think?

Hoda Kotb: You just happened to have married two women, one is missing and one who's dead.

Drew Peterson: Correct.

Hoda Kotb: Which is it? You just have bad luck?

Drew Peterson: I guess this is bad luck.

In this season of comfort and joy there is none for those who loved Stacy Peterson.

There are no tidings.

Just a deep, abiding desire to honor a bubbly young woman, to bring her home and see justice done.

A grand jury has been looking into the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and the death of Drew Peterson’s third wife, Kathy.

Police continue to look for Stacy Peterson, but, for now, her family isn't planning any new searches.

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