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Published: Friday, 5/8/2009

Ex-officer held in 3rd wife's death

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOCKPORT, Ill. - Drew Peterson, the brash, mustachioed former police sergeant who found tabloid fame after his fourth wife's disappearance more than 1 1/2 years ago, was indicted yesterday in the drowning death of a former wife found dead in an empty bathtub in 2004.

Mr. Peterson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of Kathleen Savio.

Mr. Peterson was arrested during an evening traffic stop near his Bolingbrook home and was being held on $20 million bond, Illinois State Police Captain Carl Dobrich said.

"We are very confident in our case," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said.

Ms. Savio's body was found in a dry bathtub. Her death initially was ruled an accidental drowning, but authorities later said it was a homicide staged to look like an accident.

The two-count indictment against Mr. Peterson alleges that "Peterson on or about Feb. 29, 2004 caused Kathleen Savio to inhale fluid," causing Ms. Savio's death.

Savio Savio
AP Enlarge

Ms. Savio's body was found in March, 2004, by a friend of Mr. Peterson after the police sergeant called to say he was worried because he had not talked to or seen her for a few days. The couple had recently divorced.

Questions about Mr. Peterson surfaced immediately, with Ms. Savio's sister telling a coroner's jury that her sister feared Mr. Peterson and had told family members if she died that it might look like an accident, but it wasn't.

Their fears resurfaced after the October, 2007, disappearance of Stacy Peterson, then 23.

Mr. Peterson, 55, is a suspect in the disappearance, which police have called a possible homicide, but he has not been charged.

One of Mr. Peterson's attorneys, Andrew Abood, said the indictment was not a surprise.

"There was tremendous pressure for the government to do something in this case," Mr. Abood said last night.

But Mr. Abood said one of Mr. Peterson's sons with Ms. Savio has "provided a lock-tight alibi" for his father.

In an appearance on CBS' The Early Show last month, Thomas Peterson, 16, appeared alongside his father and defended him.

"I highly do not believe that my dad had murdered my mom. Because, first off, he wasn't there, he was with us during that period of time," Thomas Peterson said at the time.

Ms. Savio's father, however, said yesterday an arrest was long overdue.

"I always wondered," about her death, said Henry Savio, 73, who joined another of his daughters in filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against Drew Peterson last month.

"I was never pleased with the [coroner's finding of accidental drowning] from the beginning," he said.

Drew Peterson has seemed to relish being under the media microscope since Stacy Peterson's disappearance, appearing in People magazine and on multiple national talk shows - most recently to tout his new engagement to a 24-year-old woman.



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