Seven Years Later: Where is Stacy Peterson?

Stacy Peterson with her children

Stacy Peterson with her children and those of Kathleen Savio.

Stacy Peterson was last heard from seven years ago, today. At 10:15 on a lazy Sunday morning she texted a friend that she wasn’t ready to get out of bed to go help with some painting and then…silence. No more texts, no phone calls, no email, no sightings of her since that moment.

Her sister, Cassandra Cales, hung out with her the night before and was already nervous about Stacy’s well-being. She knew that Stacy wanted to divorce her police officer husband, Drew, but also that she was afraid he wouldn’t let her go. Stacy  warned her sister that night that if something were to happen to her “he did it.” Her neighbor, Sharon Bychowski, saw her sitting on the curb and crying in the days prior to her disappearance and Stacy told her then that she had lost hope of making it out of the marriage alive.

Stacy had confided a terrible secret to at least three people in the weeks prior to her disappearance – her husband had killed his third wife and had staged her death to look like an accident. She hoped that this dangerous information might buy her and her children an escape from Drew, but it probably cost her her life instead.

The night of October 28, 2007, Drew Peterson’s step-brother visited a friend and told him that he needed to unburden himself. He thought that he had just helped move a plastic container that held the body of Stacy Peterson from her house to Drew’s SUV. He had been given some money and he wanted to give some of it to his friend. The next day he attempted to take his own life with an overdose of Paxil, Xanax and alcohol.

Drew Peterson was eventually charged, tried and convicted for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, but he has maintained to this day that Stacy Peterson simply left him and her children on that Sunday, seven years ago. Numerous land and water searches have failed to turn up any evidence of her remains. Her sister, Cassandra, still searches for her with the assistance of volunteers.

If you have any information that can help this ongoing investigation, please contact the Illinois State Police who released a statement today:

“The Peterson case has always remained active and continues to be very active. While agents may not always be in contact with the family with every lead, they are still actively investigating the case. In fact, we have been following up on several leads – which we are not at liberty to make public or discuss at this time.”

Reporter Craig Wall tweeted this photo of his notes from Drew Peterson's 2012 trial ready for recycling.

Reporter Craig Wall tweeted this photo of his notes from Drew Peterson’s 2012 trial ready for recycling.

Some anniversary updates:

“I’m not going to stop until she’s found. I will leave no stone unturned until I bring my sister home.”

Stacy’s Aunt Candace wrote a poem to commemorate the anniversary of the disappearance (used with her permission).

SEVEN YEARS!!!!

Seven Years and so many tears,
And still no answer to our fears!
Stacy Ann I love and miss you so much,
And your special endearing touch!
You left a big hole upon my heart,
Its hard to know where to pick up and restart!
It feels like life is empty space,
because not one can take your place!
It’s still so hard without you here,
You were so precious and so dear!
I miss you running all around,
And your voice I love the sound!
I still have your # in my cell,
How many times I call you, I never tell!
It feels like you’ll call me again someday,
But then, it’s only your message I can play!
You’re in my heart forever, you know,
And to your house, I love to go!
But for now I keep you here,
In my heart, you’re always near!
I know I’ll see your face again,
Although I don’t know exactly when!
I just know it will be a wonderful day,
Because God has ordained it that way!!!!
I love and miss you Stacy Ann!!!

Aunt candy

Drew Peterson case inspires proposed bill to strip pensions from convicted felons

Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville

Rep. Darlene Senger

A new bill currently making its way through the General Assembly could make it a lot easier for the Bolingbrook Police Pension Board to take away the pension of convicted murderer, Drew Peterson.

Proposed Illinois House Bill 5816 would let pension boards consider some new criteria with regards to dispersal of pension benefits.  The bill which was introduced last month would let boards consider official misconduct and felony convictions grounds for forfeiture.

It says if you have been convicted or pleaded guilty to corruption charges, then the board can withhold your pension,” said 41st District Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, the bill’s sponsor.

But, more pertinent to the Drew Peterson situation, the bill would also make a felony grounds for possible forfeiture, stating:

..if a member or participant of a pension fund or retirement system established under the Code is receiving an annuity or pension from a pension fund or retirement system established under the Code and is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, a felony…then the board of trustees of that fund or system shall suspend the payment of that annuity or pension during that individual’s incarceration for that offense.

In Peterson’s case, that would be 38 years.

The Naperville Sun reports that Senger’s motivation for the bill arose from the current Drew Peterson situation. The Bolingbrook board voted last week to hold hearings to decide whether they should put an end to Peterson’s benefits, something that may be difficult to do under current law which is protective of civil employees.

There is another part to the proposed legislation, however, that could allow Peterson to continue collecting his annual $79k payout. It would allow pension boards leeway when the beneficiary of the pension is a child.  That part of the bill has not yet gone to a vote.

Currently, Peterson’s adult son, Stephen, is receiving his father’s pension benefits and has custodial care of his father’s two minor children. Their mother is Stacy Peterson who has been missing since October 2007. Drew Peterson is the only named suspect in connection to her disappearance and Stephen lost his job when he failed to tell his superiors about accepting guns and money from his father immediately after Stacy went missing.

Peterson’s attorneys have filed an appeal of his murder conviction and it is expected to be argued in appellate court some time in the Fall of this year.

Also, in “this is starting to feel like a prolonged case of déjà vu” news, the Illinois Supreme Court has denied Stephen Peterson’s request to appeal the Appellate Court decision that upheld the Village of Oak Brook’s decision to terminate him from his position with the Police Department.

I guess he’ll have to seek solace by buying more Blackhawks tickets with his dad’s pension benefits…
steve-peterson-hawks

From the March Illinois Supreme Court Docket:

117194 Stephen Peterson, petitioner, v. Village of Oak Brook, etc., et al., respondents.
Leave to appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.

Sources:
Illinois House Bill 5816 text
Illinois House Bill 5816 Summary
Naperville Sun
My Suburban Life

Attorney hired by Bolingbrook recommends going after Drew Peterson’s pension

Drew Peterson Mugshot as of January 2014
Today the Chicago Tribune reported that after a 9-month review, attorney Charles Atwell sent a letter to the Bolingbrook Police Pension Fund stating his opinion that there is enough evidence to challenge Drew Peterson’s $79k yearly pension.

Atwell, a public pension expert, was hired in March of last year to study the transcripts of Peterson’s trial for the murder of ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, and to determine if the convicted man had used the knowledge and skills gained as a police officer in the killing.

Under Illinois law, if challenged Drew Peterson would have the right to a public hearing which would be somewhat like a trial, in that the hearing would be public, board members would testify, and Peterson could call witnesses in his defense. He would also have the right to attend the hearing.

While serving his 38-year sentence for murder at the Menard Correctional Center, Peterson’s pension checks have been given over to his adult son, Stephen, who allegedly has been using the funds to raise Lacy and Anthony Peterson, the young children of Stacy (Cales) Peterson, who went missing in the Fall of 2007 and is presumed dead (at the hands of her husband).

Stephen Peterson lost his job as a police officer for the Village of Oak Brook in 2011 when it was determined that he used poor judgement and obstructed an investigation when he agreed to receive money and guns from his father in the days after Stacy Peterson went missing.

Bolingbrook Police Pension Board attorney Richard Reimer says, “The pension board will schedule a special meeting to decide whether or not to pursue that hearing. Reimer expects that to occur in “the next couple of weeks.” He also indicated that if the hearing does occur, Peterson will most likely attend via video-conference, rather than being transported to Bolingbrook.

Peterson’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, has pooh-poohed the idea of his client losing his pension, stating, “There is absolutely no basis in law or fact. This is simply the flavor de jour to pile on Drew. At some point, I hope, they will start applying the same laws that apply to everyone else to Drew Peterson, and make it a fair fight.

Kathleen Savio’s sister told the Tribune, “As a police officer, you’re supposed to serve and protect. He didn’t protect. He used his law-enforcement skills and knowledge to go out and murder my sister. If you do the crime, you should pay the full price. There shouldn’t be any exceptions.

Meanwhile Naperville pastor, Neil Schori, who testified at Peterson’s murder trial to incriminating statements told to him by Stacy Peterson, is afraid that Stacy’s children would suffer if their father was stripped of his pension. He tweeted:

In other news, Joel Brodsky appears to have abandoned his defamation lawsuit against former co-counsel, Steve Grenberg, Stacy St. Clair (Chicago Tribune), and Joe Hosey (AOL Patch). Back in September Greenberg tweeted that Brodsky had to withdraw the complaint because of errors in the filing. Joel Brodsky says that he has dropped the suit for now because of the ill health of the attorney representing him. The complaint was filed by Walter Maksym, who was reprimanded in 2011 for filing a bizarre and nonsensical brief.

Read it here: Drew Peterson’s appeal of murder conviction

ARGUMENTS

I. DREW WAS DENIED A FAIR TRIAL WHEN ATTORNEY HARRY SMITH TESTIFIED ABOUT A PRIVILEGED CONVERSATION WITH STACY THAT HAD BEEN RULED INADMISSIBLE, AND WAS HEARSAY OPINION INSINUATING DREW WAS GUILTY OF MURDER.

II. DREW’S PRINCIPAL ATTORNEY, BY SIGNING A MEDIA RIGHTS CONTRACT WHEN RETAINED, CREATED A PER SE CONFLICT.

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW IN ADMITTING PASTOR SCHORI’S TESTIMONY, BOTH AT THE FORFEITURE BY WRONGDOING HEARING AND AT TRIAL, IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE CLERGY PRIVILEGE DOCTRINE.

IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING INTO EVIDENCE, VIA THE FORFEITURE BY WRONGDOING DOCTRINE, HEARSAY STATEMENTS THAT THE COURT HAD PREVIOUSLY FOUND UNRELIABLE.

V. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN ADMITTING JEFFREY PACHTER’S TESTIMONY BECAUSE THE STATE FAILED TO PROVIDE PROPER NOTICE OF THE TESTIMONY UNDER RULE 404(b), WHICH WAS PREJUDICIAL PROPENSITY EVIDENCE.

VI. DREW WAS NOT PROVED GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT

VII. THE CUMULATIVE ERRORS DENIED DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AND CAST DOUBT UPON THE INTEGRITY OF THIS PROCEEDING.

See the comments thread for more information.

Drew Peterson appeal of murder conviction to be filed soon

UPDATE: 1/13/14: Steven Greenberg reports that he has mailed the appeal.
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Drew Peterson’s attorneys have until January 14, 2014 to file an appeal of his conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

Although limited to 50 pages, they have been asking permission to submit something more along the lines of a novella – 175 pages: 50 pages outlining the facts of the case and another 125 pages of arguments. Apparently they feel that the publicity garnered by the case merits a more verbose appeal. Or perhaps the inflated egos of Peterson’s battling counselors require bloated prose. Whatever the case, the third district appellate court has again shot down the request and they will be obliged to stick to the limit.

Peterson’s appeal is set to be filed within the next three weeks but the oral arguments for and against are not expected to be heard until late 2014.

Attorney Steven Greenberg says that the appeal will focus on hearsay evidence which was admitted to trial and on allegations of ineffective counsel. Motions filed after Peterson’s conviction and prior to his sentencing asked for a re-trial on the same grounds but were denied by Judge Edward Burmila.

Sources:
Chicago Tribune
ABC 7

Thoughts on Stacy Peterson: Six years gone

Stacy Peterson, missing since 2007

Today is the anniversary of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance. In observance I am re-running a blog post from a year ago. Stacy Peterson is still much in the thoughts of those who knew her and they are still seeking answers about her whereabouts. If you have any information that can help this ongoing investigation, please contact the Illinois State Police.

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Stacy Peterson was last heard from six years ago, today. On a lazy Sunday morning, she texted a friend that she wasn’t ready to get out of bed and go help with some painting and then…silence. No more texts, no phone calls, no email, no sightings of her since that moment.

Her sister, Cassandra Cales, had been with her the night before and was already nervous about Stacy’s well-being. She knew that Stacy wanted to divorce her police officer husband, Drew, but that she was afraid he wouldn’t let her go. Her neighbor, Sharon Bychowski, had seen her sitting on the curb and crying in the days prior to her disappearance and had been told that she thought she would not make it out alive. She had confided a terrible secret to at least three people in the weeks before–that her husband had killed his third wife and that she had provided him with an alibi.

Stacy thought that this information might buy her and her children an escape from Drew, but it may well have cost her her life instead.

During Drew Peterson’s murder trial I received a lot of emails from people–really great emails for the most part filled with support for this site as well as the Savios, the Cales, and the prosecutors. Of course there were a few nutty negative emails as well, but those were expected.

But beyond that, there were also a few troubling emails. These came from people who, although they believed Peterson was guilty of killing Kathleen Savio, had difficulty accepting the idea that Stacy knew about her murder but did nothing about it until three years later when she wanted out of her marriage. These emails were from the nicest people you could imagine, who believed that Peterson killed not only Kathleen but Stacy as well, and they asked about this facet of the case tentatively, obviously not comfortable sharing their thoughts in the comments sections of the blog.

One woman, hoping that someone might have the answer just asked:

“I hope you can answer a question for me. After Neil Schori’s testimony yesterday, I have to wonder why Stacy Peterson waited until August of 2007 to tell her secret? That’s almost 3 1/2 years after Kathleen’s death. Why did Stacy wait so long to speak up?”

Another person took a few paragraphs to get to the point and then finally came out with it:

“Shame on Stacy. I don’t think she had one ounce of self-esteem and had no way of knowing right from wrong…She raised Kathleen’s son’s knowing their dad killed her. That’s messed up.”

It’s true that Stacy was not always kind to Kathleen during the first part of their relationship and that she later kept Drew’s dark secret for three years. However, she was only a teenager when they met and was no doubt under a good deal of control by Drew, so I factor that in when I think about her behavior towards Kathleen. I admit with some discomfort that I do find Stacy culpable to a degree for protecting Drew and providing him with an alibi.

That said, I guess I don’t dwell on it or feel anger towards her at this point because although I learned those facts of the case very early on, they were so eclipsed by the transgressions of Peterson himself.

In our country you have the right to be tried for your crimes and judged by a jury of your peers. Stacy Peterson was robbed of that right while her husband received the full benefit of the legal system. In my opinion, Drew Peterson was Stacy’s self-appointed judge, jury and executioner and he meted out a death sentence not as a matter of justice, but in order to hide a crime of his own. I think someday it will be proven in court that he killed her out of cowardice and greed. No matter what she might have been charged with, the sentence would not have been to be murdered at the hands of someone who had sworn to love and protect her.

I never think “shame on Stacy” because she never benefited from her right to representation and never got a fair day in court. She was abruptly silenced and denied the chance to either explain her actions or to defend herself against the slanderous accusations that have been made by Peterson and his lawyers since her disappearance.

It’s especially galling when you think about the fact that while Drew Peterson has now been convicted of the murder of Kathleen Savio, he still has parental rights over Stacy’s children and can legally keep her family from spending time with them.

Even if you feel that Stacy Peterson deserved punitive measures for not speaking up about the murder sooner, I don’t think there are many who would say that she hasn’t paid the price ten times over and then some.

She didn’t deserve to be killed and her children didn’t deserve to be robbed of their mother.

I try to take my cue from the Savio family who have found it in their hearts to put aside any resentment and have stood by the Cales to work towards getting justice for both Stacy and Kathleen. If the only people in the world who have a legitimate reason to be angry have demonstrated that they can get over it, so can you.

And of course there’s only one appropriate question to ask today: Where is Stacy?

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Three of Drew Peterson’s old attorneys return to his defense – Joel Brodsky calls them a pathological narcissist, an alcoholic, and a novice

The Chicago Tribune reports that attorneys Steve Greenberg, John Heiderscheidt and David Peilet have been rehired to try to overturn Drew Peterson’s murder conviction for the killing of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio.

The three lawyers turned his appellate case over to the state defender’s office last March but Peterson has now decided he wants the help of his old team. attorney Steve Greenberg says,

After the case was over, he needed to think about what he wanted to do. We needed to let things calm down before making those decisions.

The appeal, which is expected to be filed within the next 90 days, will be based on the admission of hearsay, the admission of testimony by Stacy Peterson’s pastor, a jury pool left in limbo for over two years and the ineffective counsel of Peterson’s lead attorney, Joel Brodsky. Brodsky responded to the news last night in an acerbic Tweet:

joel-comment

The Tribune reports that Peterson is biding his time at Menard Correctional Center, in protective custody. He has no cellmate and no job there. He gets five hours of recreation time each week and is allowed to see visitors twice a month.

Since his sentencing, Peterson’s yearly police pension of almost $80k has been challenged by Bolingbrook Village officials. It may take months before the outside attorney hired by the pension board makes a recommendation.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune