Peterson's Children to Testify at Grand Jury

The death of Drew Peterson's third wife was recently ruled a homicide.

February 26, 2009, 8:25 PM

Feb. 28, 2008 &#151; -- Two of Drew Peterson's children from his marriage to Kathleen Savio have been subpoenaed to testify in front of the grand jury investigating his possible involvement in her death and the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacey Peterson, ABC News has learned.

The two boys, Tom, 15, and Christopher, 13, were served with subpoenas Wednesday and were granted immunity in return for their testimony. They are currently living with their father.

A coroner's inquest had previously ruled the 2004 death of Savio, Peterson's third wife, an accident, but an autopsy report last week determined that Savio was killed in her Bolingbrook, Ill., home, a few weeks before her divorce from Peterson was complete.

Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police officer, has not been named as a suspect in Savio's death, but he is considered a suspect in Stacey Peterson's disappearance. Authorities reexamined Savio's death after Stacey Peterson disappeared in November.

Drew Peterson has denied any wrongdoing in both cases.

For years, Savio's relatives have suspected Peterson of being involved in her death, telling the 2004 coroner's inquest that Savio was terrified of her former husband, whom they said threatened her and hit her.

"We've been waiting for this," Savio's sister, Anna Doman, told ABC News. "We didn't think it would ever happen."

Now, in an exclusive interview with ABC News Senior Law & Justice correspondent Jim Avila, a juror on the coroner's inquest that initially determined Savio's death was an accident says he wishes he had listened to her family.

"If we would have come back with murder instead, maybe Stacey Peterson would still be here today," Jim Pretto told ABC News. "There is a little bit of guilt that because of that, maybe somebody else was murdered because of that. That maybe could have been stopped."

Savio was found facedown in the empty bathtub of her home on March 1, 2004, a few weeks before the property settlement from her divorce from Peterson was scheduled to be finalized. She had a one-inch gash on the back of her head.

An autopsy at the time of Savio's death found that she had drowned and speculated that she may have slipped and hit her head on the tub. A state police officer testified at the inquest that there was no evidence that Savio had been murdered.

Pretto faulted investigators for failing to present enough evidence at the inquest and said that if he had known all the facts about the case in 2004, he would have called Savio's death a homicide.

"There was no evidence at all to point toward it being a murder," Pretto said. "There was nothing presented at all."

Kathleen Savio's sister Susan Savio told the coroner's inquest that Kathleen was terrified of Peterson and that Kathleen had said "if she would die, it may look like an accident, but it wasn't," according to a transcript of the inquest.

Though a police officer at the inquest said police had received domestic disturbance calls from Savio, the jurors did not hear that police were called to Savio and Peterson's house 18 times. Peterson was never arrested.

The jury also did not hear that Savio in 2002 asked for a restraining order against Peterson. The papers read, "he has restrained me, held me down, knocked me into walls … left marks on my body all the time."

A police officer who testified at the inquiry did not go to the scene of Savio's death or attend her autopsy. He testified that he was not aware of any insurance policies on Savio, though she did have life insurance.

Doman and Savio's brother Henry Savio told ABC News that Peterson hit their sister, giving her a black eye at one point.

"It was huge, it was purple," Anna Doman said. "And I said, 'what happened?' I said, 'Did Drew hit you?' And she looked at me and she said, 'yeah.'"

They said their sister was afraid in the months before her death. "You wouldn't believe how scared she was," Henry Savio said.

"Over and over she'd say, 'I'm never gonna make it to the end of the divorce or the property settlement,'" Anna Doman said. "'He's gonna kill me.'"

Pretto said that though the jurors on the coroner's inquest were suspicious, they did not have enough evidence to call Savio's death anything but an accident.

"We had no other alternative," he said. "I think more evidence should have been presented, more investigation should have been done at the time."

James Glasgow, the state's attorney for Will County, said when he reopened the case that evidence indicated that the circumstances of Savio's death were staged to hide a homicide.

Doman sympathized with Peterson's sons, who now face the prospect of answering difficult questions about their mother's death.

"What a horrible, horrible position to be in. That's got to mark you for life," she said. But she added that the family hopes the grand jury investigation will offer some answers to the questions surrounding her sister's mysterious death.

"I think we're closer" to justice, Doman said. "I just wish it was four years ago."

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