The mysterious blue container at the center of the Drew Peterson investigation may be one of three that the former police sergeant and a close friend bought from a cable installation company four years ago, ABC News has learned.
A search warrant issued last week for Peterson's two vehicles mentions "blue plastic" and "scuff marks" left by a "large storage container," lending credence to reports that investigators think Peterson, 53, might have loaded into his SUV a blue container holding the body of his 23-year-old wife, Stacy, who disappeared from their Bolingbrook, Ill., home Oct. 28. Drew Peterson is a suspect in her disappearance, but he has not been charged.
Rick Mims, Peterson's long-time friend, told a grand jury last week that he and Peterson bought three such containers for about $100 from AmeriCable, where they both worked part-time in 2003, according to a source close to the investigation. Peterson put two of the containers on a shelf in his garage, but after Stacy vanished, so did the containers, Mims testified.
A state prosecutor and the grand jurors themselves questioned Mims for approximately 10 minutes about the containers, the source said, asking in particular about the items' handles. Mims turned over photographs of the containers, and ABC News obtained copies of those photos.
The new pictures have reportedly prompted state investigators, local police and volunteer searchers to shift their attention from what was originally thought to be a blue barrel to a square blue container. Peterson has consistently denied having a blue barrel in his house, and his attorney Joel Brodsky now denies that a blue container was there either.
"Stacy's sister said there was a blue barrel of chlorine," said Brodsky. "Now we're told there is a blue container of cable. The story is not consistent throughout and therefore really shows it lacks validity."
Peterson has said he believes his wife is alive and disappeared because she left him for another man. But police are treating the case as a possible homicide, and members of Stacy's family are pitching in to help solve the case in any way they can.
Pam Bosco, a spokeswoman for the family, says investigators are actually looking for lots of different kinds of containers while relentlessly searching the canals near the Peterson home for any sign of Stacy's body. Family members met Wednesday with Illinois State Police for three hours, and they say they are pleased with the process so far.
"It was very inspiring," said Bosco, "to see that many people involved -- heart and soul, actually -- with this investigation."