In interview after interview with the media, Drew Peterson has done virtually everything but express the worry, sadness and anger one would expect in a person whose spouse vanished without a trace three weeks ago, psychologists told ABC News.
Since Stacy Peterson, 24, went missing on Oct. 28, her husband Drew, a 53-year-old police sergeant has become the prime suspect in an investigation and the center of a media storm.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Peterson, of Bolingbrook, Ill., called the search for his fourth wife a "waste of time," and in two interviews with NBC's Today Show and elsewhere Peterson has alleged his wife's PMS led her to run off with another man.
"Why would I go search for someone who I don't believe is there? Why would I go beat the weeds in the cold? It's a waste of time," he told ABC News.
Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists consulted by ABC News said people respond to the trauma of a missing spouse in different ways, but called Peterson's reaction "atypical" and his attitude "blase" and "surprisingly indifferent." None of the experts have personally evaluated Peterson.
"My knee-jerk reaction is what you hear everyone say," said forensic psychologist N.G. Berrill. "If my wife went missing and I loved her, I'd be hysterical. I'm always cautious about attempting to asses someone's emotions, but I don't want to say common sense here is wrong… He comes across as extremely glib and relaxed."
When contacted by ABC News, Peterson, who has not been accused of any crime, said he was "surprised by the media attention."
"I got caught in a media lull and it snowballed. There are more important things than this, like a little girl missing in Chicago," he said.
When asked about his concerns for his two young children, ages 2 and 4, Peterson said, "sure their mom's missing and they're upset but there are more important things to worry about."
Despite routinely speaking to the media for weeks, Peterson referred other questions to his lawyer Joel Brodsky.
"People are calling him guilty already just because he's not acting the certain way they want," Brodsky said.
"He has made some wacky statements and he has acted kind of wacky, but he's just acting like Drew. People would rather he put on an act and be dishonest… There are 6 billion people in the world and if faced with a horrible situation you'd probably get 6 billion different reactions. People seem to feel there is a uniform way to act," he said.
People do react in different ways to trauma, experts said, but generally those reactions are consistently sad.
"When someone undergoes a trauma or loss like a spouse who suddenly disappears, people's coping mechanisms tend to be magnified. People who get sad, get really sad, people who throw themselves into their work, really throw themselves into their work," said Dr. Joe Scroppo, director of the forensic psychiatry program at North Shore University Hospital in Manhassett, New York.
"When people undergo a tragedy or loss, usually there is some guilt about what has occurred even if they're not directly responsible… You'd expect someone to feel some of that when losing a spouse even if he had mixed feelings about her… Among police officers that sense is even more heightened," he said.
"His is not a typical response… Usually, there is a mix of negative feelings, self blame…A sense of sadness or depression, these kinds of feelings, tend to be part of the mix… One would expect that kind of reaction in someone similar to Peterson… Even if he had an ambivalent relationship with his wife – which, he does by his own account – I think he would be concerned about the effect on his children. Even if he doesn't care about her, one would expect him to be concerned about his kids."
Experts speculated that if Peterson is indeed guilty, his experience as a police officer could afford him the confidence to act so nonchalantly.
"If he is guilty of this crime, he must believe no one is ever going to find the body… If he truly knows why his wife went missing, he knows the body won't be found," said Berrill. "As a cop he's fully aware that a spouse is first person cops look at in an investigation."
Since Stacy went missing, investigators have exhumed the body of Peterson's third wife Kathleen Savio who died in a mysterious bathtub drowning. A new autopsy revealed she may have been murdered.
"If in fact he is a cold-blooded killer -- that is to say if he is a psychopath -- he managed to get away with murder once before," Berrill said. "The irony of the whole tale is that police may never find the body of the present wife, but the remains of the third wife might lead to a murder conviction."