Seeming to anticipate his own arrest, Drew Peterson has turned to the Internet, seeking cyberbucks for a legal defense fund in the still-mysterious disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.
"I hope this will bring some money in,'' Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. "Drew is not a rich man and this case will be expensive."
Peterson has repeatedly denied involvement in his wife's disappearance. He has said that he believes that Stacy Peterson left him for another man. Legal experts call the online defense fund highly unusual, if not unprecedented, because the former police officer has not been charged with a crime.
"I can't remember it ever being done before,'' said veteran defense attorney Mickey Sherman, who represented Michael Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, in the sensational Greenwich, Conn., trail for the murder of Martha Moxley.
"But I can't think of any place it's more appropriate than here. We're doing 'he's-not-a-suspect-he's-a-person-of-interest' thing, I know, but clearly, this guy is going to be charged at some point soon, and if he's not, he's still going to need a boatload of money for his lawyers," Sherman said.
The launch of the online defense fund, called Defenddrew.com, has "disgusted'' the family of missing mother Stacy Peterson, 23, who was last seen Oct. 28.
"I'm disgusted, the family is disgusted,'' said spokeswoman Pam Bosco. "I even talked to the police, and they are disgusted,'' she said Tuesday, after reviewing the site.
The site is an emotional plea for financial support from a man who feels he's been victimized by police pressure and a media witch hunt.
"Attention-grabbing headlines have forced both Drew and the children into the spotlight,'' the site reads. "For the cost of a few cups of your morning coffee, you can help to ensure that Drew can afford to support his ongoing legal defense, find his missing wife, and divert any remaining funds into a trust for his children. Our legal system is built upon the fundamental truth that you are innocent until proven guilty. The media has decided to sensationalize this story and the collateral damage is never-ending."
Suspicion has swirled around Drew Peterson since virtually the start of the investigation.
Recently, a local pastor reported that he'd once heard Stacy Peterson blurt out in a diner that her husband had killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Former Westbrook Christian Church pastor Neil Schori told Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren Monday that Stacy Peterson told him in August that her husband, Drew Peterson, admitted killing Savio, his third wife. Savio's body was found in her bathtub in 2004, and her death was initially ruled an accidental drowning. After Stacy Peterson disappeared in October, prosecutors opened another investigation into the Savio case and said it appears her death was a homicide staged to look like an accident.
Drew Peterson has not been named a suspect in her death. In addition to a legal defense fund, the site seeks money to hire a private investigator to help find Stacy, and pledges that any leftover money be put into a trust for Drew's four children. Last week, investigators plunged the icy depths of an Illinois canal looking for evidence of the young woman's disappearance.
Despite an intensifying air of anticipation surrounding the case, authorities have yet to charge Peterson with any crime.