Drew Peterson Held on $20M Bail in Wife's Murder
Peterson Reportedly Cracked Jokes After Arrest in Kathleen Savio's Murder
By MICHAEL S. JAMES, SCOTT MICHELS, ANDREA BEAUMONT and SARAH NETTER
May 8, 2009
The sister of the woman allegedly killed by Drew Peterson said the world is finally a "safe place for me" now that he sits in jail on murder charges.
But Peterson, well known for his wisecracks and blase attitude, had a less dramatic reaction to his arrest Thursday, reportedly saying, "I guess I should have returned those library books."
Peterson, an ex-cop, was charged Thursday in Illinois with two first-degree murder counts in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He's also under investigation in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. He is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon.
"He's an idiot," Susan Doman, Savio's sister, said today on "Good Morning America," dismayed that Peterson would make jokes after he was arrested for his wife's murder.
Kathleen Savio's brother Nick was clearly pleased with the arrest.
"This is step one. Step two would be a conviction so my sister can rest in peace," Nick Savio told "GMA."
Peterson has maintained his innocence to anyone who would listen both in Savio's death and Stacy Peterson's disappearance. At times he's even seemed to revel in the spotlight.
"Drew takes these charges very seriously," his lawyer Joel Brodsky told "Good Morning America." Those jokes, he said, are his way of dealing with stress. "That's just his nature."
Doman said the arrest is a long time coming and the family hopes this is the first step in justice for her sister. Peterson was arrested shortly before he was scheduled to to fly to Reno to interview for a security job at a brothel featured on a cable television show.
"It was a big relief because he wasn't going on all these shows, going around joking and laughing," Doman said.
Prosecutors are hoping to enter into evidence letters from Savio that reveal her fear of what her husband might do. A new law in Illinois, passed in light of the Peterson case, would allow for such evidence, legislation Peterson's lawyer is planning to fight.
"Obviously we have problems with that law," Joel Brodsky told "GMA." "And we're going to challenge the law."
Peterson, 55, was being held at the Will County Adult Detention Facility in Joliet, Ill., with bond set at $20 million, and could face 60 years in jail, Will County State's Attorney James W. Glasgow said.
"This is a grave and serious matter, and I think that's reflected in the bond," Glasgow told reporters.
"We are very confident in our case," he added.
Brodsky has called the $20 million bond "excessive" and said he hoped to get it reduced. Another attorney told The Associated Press that Peterson had an alibi for Savio's death.
Savio, 40, was found face-down in an empty bathtub in March 2004, her hair soaked with blood from an apparent head wound.
The death initially was ruled an accident, but was reclassified a homicide in 2008 after her body was exhumed and given a new autopsy following Stacy Peterson's October 2007 disappearance.
That autopsy determined Savio had drowned, Illinois State Police Capt. Carl Dobrich said.
The indictment handed down by a grand jury Thursday morning accused Peterson of "two counts of first-degree murder, one on the theory of intentional killing, the second [for] knowingly doing an act that can cause great bodily harm," said Glasgow, whose office will prosecute the case.
Peterson was arrested "without incident" in a traffic stop by a uniformed state trooper and plainclothes officers near his home in Bolingbrook, Ill., Dobrich said. He added that Peterson's four children were in the process of being removed to government care.
Andrew Abood, an attorney for Peterson, told The Associated Press the indictment was not a surprise because "there was tremendous pressure for the government to do something in this case."
He added Peterson had a "lock-tight alibi" because Peterson and Savio's teenage son said last month in a television interview that he was with his father at the time of his mother's death.
"I highly do not believe that my dad had murdered my mom," Thomas Peterson, 16, told CBS' "The Early Show." "Because, first off, he wasn't there. He was with us during that period of time."
Peterson, a former duty sergeant for the Bolingbrook Police Department, was the first officer to respond to the scene of Savio's death. His nearly-three-decade career in law enforcement ended when he stepped down after Stacy Peterson disappeared.
Brodsky said he had not spoken with his client Peterson as of late Thursday night, but expected to speak with him Friday.
Doman told ABC News she hated watching Drew Peterson walking around freely and seemingly basking in the media limelight in the year and a half since Stacy Peterson vanished, an event that inflamed her own family's suspicions about Peterson regarding her sister's death.
Doman added that she hoped now "he's eating oatmeal" in jail.
She knew Peterson's arrest was coming because she had been working with authorities, and she hoped justice would finally be done.
May 13 would have been Kathleen Savio's 46th birthday, her sister noted. Every year, she said, family members visit her grave and relive the pain of her death. This year, she added, there will be some relief.
Savio's divorce from Peterson was nearly complete at the time of her death. She had received an order of protection in 2002 against Peterson, alleging a pattern of physical abuse and threats.
Doman said she wants to encourage battered women to get out of bad relationships, claiming Drew Peterson battered her sister.
"No matter how strong you are, get out," she said she would tell other abused women.
A lawyer for the Savio family, Martin Glink, told ABCNews.com the family is "very grateful and relieved that at long last he [Drew Peterson] is going to be charged.
"We're hoping that Mr. Peterson will get a measure of justice," Glink added. "We're looking to have the right thing done and that obviously points to Drew Peterson."
Mystery Surrounding Stacy Peterson's Disappearance
Stacy Peterson, then 23, vanished Oct. 28, 2007, after reportedly telling her minister that Peterson had confessed to killing Savio.