Homicide Call Renews Pressure on Ex-Cop

The 2004 death of Drew Peterson's third wife was no accident, the state found.

ByDavid Schoetz and Barbara Pinto via via logo
February 19, 2009, 3:20 AM

Feb. 22, 2008— -- Former cop Drew Peterson, already under investigation for the disappearance of his fourth wife, shrugged off the news that a fresh autopsy has reclassified his third wife's death as a homicide.

"Unbelievable," Peterson said when a reporter for the Herald News in Joilet, Ill., told him of the ruling. "That's hard to believe."

Peterson told the newspaper that he has made preparations to go to jail if police arrest him on charges concerning either of his wives.

"The thing is, do what you got to do," Peterson told the newspaper. "You roll the dice, I'll roll the dice."

The new autopsy concluded that Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, died as the result of a homicide in 2004. She was discovered face-down in an empty bathtub with hair soaked with blood from an apparent head wound. Savio's divorce from Peterson was nearly complete at the time.

It was not clear exactly what new evidence emerged to change the coroner's cause of death from accidental drowning to homicide. It also does not name Peterson as a suspect in Savio's death.

"We have been investigating this as a murder since reopening the case in November of last year," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said Thursday. "We now have a scientific basis to formally and publicly classify it as such."

Savio had received an order of protection in 2002 against Peterson, alleging a pattern of physical abuse and threats.

Peterson, a duty sergeant for the Bollingbrook Police Department, was the first officer to respond to what is now considered a murder crime scene.

Savio's body was exhumed last November when Peterson, 54, was named a suspect in the disappearance of 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, his fourth wife and mother of two young children. She hasn't been seen since October.

Like Savio, Stacy Peterson had told family and friends that she feared her husband.

In November, when the state announced they wanted to reopen Savio's case, Peterson, a 29-year veteran of law enforcement, told ABC News that he would put more investigative stock in the first determination. "I put more faith in the first autopsy because it was fresh," he said.

Like Stacy Peterson's family, Savio's relatives have always maintained that the woman's death was not an accident. "I think we're happy its finally confirmed it's a homicide," Nick Savio, Kathleen's brother, said.

Drew Peterson remains the primary suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. He has kicked up controversy with a Web site soliciting money to pay his legal fees and as the suitor in a half-baked radio station dating game that was killed hours before it aired. But he's also maintained his innocence in the case, claiming that his fourth wife is alive and with another man. Authorities never have found a body.

And despite plenty of circumstantial evidence, prosecutors have not brought charges against the former cop.

But Drew Peterson may soon have another reason to defend himself.


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