In the late 1990s Drew Peterson live with then-wife Kathy and their sons.
Steve Carcerano, neighbor: 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, Dateline correspondent: 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 in the fall of 2008.
James Glasgow (Will County state's attorney): I read the inquest. I looked at the crime scene photographs.
About 12 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.
At many times during the investigation, the media glare was white-hot for Drew Peterson. And it wasn't long before women in his 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.
Hoda Kotb: Are you at all concerned about what the exhumation of [Kathy's] 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.
Headlines keep coming for Drew Peterson. At one point, 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.