Ex-Cop. Chicago-accented blowhard. Mustachioed menace. Convicted wife-slayer. Suspected serial killer. Ongoing fixture of public fascination.
Each one of those descriptions fits Drew Walter Peterson, the former decorated police sergeant who is presently incarcerated for the 2004 murder of his third wife and suspected in foul play regarding the disappearance of his fourth wife three years later.
In fact, the Drew Peterson case is so strange and stunning and loaded with increasingly insane-seeming details that it’s hard to sum it all up.
The high points of the case (or the “low points,” depending on one’s point of view) are well known. Among them:
• After two marriages that ended in divorce, Drew Peterson wed Kathleen Savio in 1992. A decade later, in the midst of a savagely unpleasant divorce, Savio sent a letter to the state’s attorney’s office declaring her fear that Peterson might kill her.• In 2003, Drew married 19-year-old Stacy Ann Peterson. The following year, Kathleen Savio turned up dead in her bathtub. Officials first believed she accidentally drowned.• Stacy Ann Peterson met with her pastor at a Starbuck’s in 2007. The clergyman said that Stacy broke down and confided that Drew had coached her to provide him with a phony alibi just before Savio died. The very next day, Stacy vanished and has not been seen or heard from since then. Peterson swears she ran off with some other guy. Technically, she remains a “missing person.”• Peterson, in fact, murdered Kathleen Savio, but two years passed before authorities charged him. Following copious, often circus-toned media attention — including a TV movie starring Rob Lowe with a scuzzy facial hair and a Mike Ditka accent — a jury finally convicted Peterson of killing Savio. He got 38 years.• In 2016, a jailhouse plot came to light in which Peterson attempted to hire a hitman to assassinate State’s Attorney James Glasgow, the prosecutor who put the wife-killer behind bars. Peterson got 40 years added to his sentence.
Still, all that insanity supplies a mere overview. What follows are five other Drew Peterson facts that, in almost any other case, may well have been major components.
Here, though, these elements are just another bunch of shockers — and it’s highly likely that, considering Peterson, new jaw-droppers will just keep on coming.
1. Drew Peterson Was Once Named “Police Officer of the Year”
As a media figure, Drew Peterson has come off as obnoxiously arrogant at and grotesquely depraved at worst (with a tendency to fall more often into the latter category). It’s almost impossible to imagine that guy ever adhering to any concept in the ballpark of “to protect and serve.”
Yet, in 1977, following an honorable discharge from the Army, Peterson joined the Bolingbrook Police Department in the suburban Chicago area. The following year, Peterson became part of the Metropolitan Narcotics Squad. In 1979, Peterson’s fellow law enforcement agents awarded him the title, “Police Officer of the Year.”
2. Peterson Also Once Got Thrown Off the Force — Then Rehired
In 1985, while supposedly building a case against a major drug peddler, Peterson ran afoul of higher-ups and got stripped of his badge. An investigation by Bolingbrook Fire and Police Commission found Peterson guilty of “official misconduct, disobedience, failure to report a bribe, and self-assigned police action.” Firing followed.
The next year, though, a judge overturned the commission’s ruling, and Peterson returned to the ranks of law enforcement. Two decades later, Peterson retired as a sergeant, shortly after Stacy disappeared.
Despite suspicions, the Bolingbrook Pension Board had no choice but to okay Peterson collecting his $6,000-a-month pension. After all, he’d never been convicted of a crime. That would change.
3. Peterson Allegedly Told His Second Wife He Could Kill Her & Make It Look Like an Accident — Then Did Exactly That to His Third Wife
During the 2007 tumult surrounding the vanishing of Stacy Peterson, Vicki Connolly came forward to talk about the torment and abuse she suffered as Drew Peterson’s second wife. Connolly endured the union for a decade beginning in 1982. She later alleged that Peterson hit her, but never hard enough to leave a lasting mark or require medical attention — just to play “mind games.”
She said he also “bugged” their house with recording devices and taped conversations, reportedly telling Connolly, “I need to know my family is safe at home and you’re not going to be doing anything you shouldn’t be doing.”
Increasingly throughout their marriage, Connolly said, Peterson informed her that he knew exactly how to murder her and easily cover it up to look like an accident.
The couple split in 1992, shortly after Peterson commenced an affair with Kathleen Savio. In 2004, Peterson murdered Savio and covered it up to look like an accident. [Chicago Tribune]
4. During His Sentencing, Peterson Screamed Into a Courtroom Microphone: “I Did Not Kill Kathleen!”
While never one to shy away from snarling, rolling his eyes, or otherwise theatrically playing to media attention, Peterson seemed to at least be trying to keep it together at first during the sentencing portion of his 2013 murder trial. He couldn’t do it.
As he choked back tears, Peterson told Judge Edward Burmila the jury’s guilty verdict resulted from “rumors, gossip, outrageous lies and, most importantly, unreliable hearsay.” He then added, “I don’t deserve this,”
It all built up to the moment when Peterson roared into the courtroom microphone:
“I DID NOT KILL KATHLEEN!”
After being admonished by the judge for his outburst, Peterson said, “I’m sorry, your honor, I must have been woozy.” [WGN]
5. In 2017, a Fellow Inmate Attacked Peterson With a Food Tray, Hoping to Steal Items to Sell on eBay
One month after Drew Peterson transferred to the Terra Haute federal prison in Indiana, a fellow inmate reportedly “jumped” the 62-year-old wife-killer in the prison’s dining area and wailed on him with a food tray.
Allegedly, the attacker hoped to either shake loose or otherwise intimidate Peterson into handing over personal effects that the tray-swinger’s family could then peddle on eBay.
Guards placed Peterson in protective custody. Prison officials said they’d be “looking into the matter.” [New York Daily News]
To learn more about this case, watch Investigation Discovery’s Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery on ID GO now!
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Main photos: Drew Peterson, 2015 mug shot [Illinois Department of Corrections]