Video: Peterson responds to new allegations

By Clint Van Zandt
msnbc.com
updated 7/24/2008 2:24:32 PM ET 2008-07-24T18:24:32
COMMENTARY

“The the b**** set me up,”  said former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry in 1990, referring to Rasheeda Moore, the woman who worked with the FBI in a drug sting operation that resulted in Barry’s arrest for possession and use of crack cocaine.

Now former Chicago area police officer Drew Peterson, a person of interest in the 2004 death of his third wife Kathleen Savio and 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife Stacey has suggested that he, like Barry, had been set up by a friend. In Peterson’s case, it’s been reported that two long-time friends and neighbors, Len Wawczak and his wife Paula Stark, say they wore wires during their many interactions with Peterson at law enforcement's request.

In seven months of taped recordings, Wawczack and Stark say Peterson referred to investigators who initially found Savio’s death to be an accident as “idiots,” adding that had he immediately cremated her body, he wouldn’t have the problems he does now. Peterson also gave the couple a gun that investigators had missed in their search of Peterson’s home. Paula Stark alleges that Peterson hugged and kissed her one occasion, rubbed up against her, asked her to model his missing wife’s bikinis. He even whispered to Stark that he loved her, allegedly asking her to run away with him, saying he would shoot his friend and her husband Len to make this happen.

As a former police officer, Peterson should listen to his own advice. He used to tell suspects they had “the right to remain silent.”

As he has proven again, he can’t keep quiet. He might be, as some suggest, a narcissistic sociopath. He’ll talk about himself at the drop of a hat. Now Peterson suggests that his former friends have simply tried to set him up because he wouldn’t give them money and that should they have any tapes, they’ll probably try to sell them to the National Inquirer. Peterson also believes any such secret tape recordings will only serve to clear him and not send him to jail as Wawczak suggests.

The Illinois State Police won't comment on the existence of such secret recordings. But can a secret recording help an investigation? Would they even hold up in court?

In another high-profile case, teenager Natalee Holloway's disappearance in Aruba, there was also a video tape that came to light. This one was made in Holland between suspect Joran van der Sloot and a friend. The video appeared to show Van der Sloot admitting he panicked when Holloway had "a seizure" during a sexual encounter. As the story went, Van der Sloot later called a friend to help him dispose of Holloway’s body in the nearby ocean. The video tapes were released to numerous media sources by the reporter responsible for putting the sting operation together. 

An Aruban judge, after a review of the tapes, suggested that Van der Sloot had told so many different stories concerning the disappearance of Holloway that this latest version was no more believable than previous ones. Once again, “no body, no case.” 

In the case of Drew Peterson, the release of the alleged tapes could, as Peterson suggests, be a ploy by his two detractors to discredit him and obtain money from the media.

But should the release of the tapes be a controlled leak by law enforcement investigators, it could reveal an attempt to pressure Peterson and have him make statements that could further implicate himself. A leak could also get other witnesses to come forward.

What we do know is this: Drew Peterson likes to talk... usually about himself. He couldn't help but defend himself on the TODAY Show.  If he has any involvement in either of the suspected crimes against his former and current wife, he knows full well that his own words could convict him.

While he laughs and mocks investigators, he must now consider that these same investigators are not giving up the hunt.

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

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