Believing Stacy Peterson was in the blue barrel he helped his stepbrother haul to a waiting get-away car, Thomas Morphey said he tried to kill himself by swallowing bottles of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety pills.
Morphey survived the attempt but does not know if this makes him lucky.
“It kills me,” said Morphey, who broke a near 17-month silence to speak out last week. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could take back the events of that day.”
Morphey is talking about Oct. 28, 2007. That’s when Drew Peterson, he said, came out of the master bedroom in his home pushing a blue barrel and asked Morphey for a hand in carrying the barrel downstairs.
“I asked him, ‘Shouldn’t we have gloves on?’ He said, ‘No, don’t worry about it,” then hushed Morphey to be quiet.
“That leads me to believe the kids were home, in their rooms,” Morphey said.
Peterson and Stacy, his fourth wife, have two children who lived with them in their Bolingbrook home. Peterson and his third wife, Kathleen Savio, had another two children together who also lived with Peterson and Stacy after Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004.
State police are still investigating the Savio homicide, just as they are probing the October 2007 disappearance of Stacy, a case they consider a “potential homicide.” Morphey said he is quite certain there is nothing “potential” about Stacy being the victim of a homicide. And what he has to say about it led State’s Attorney James Glasgow to offer an immunity deal three days after Stacy was last seen alive.
Morphey got the deal while recovering from an overdose of Paxil and Xanax at Linden Oaks Hospital on Halloween 2007. However, Morphey has yet to deliver it in a courtroom. No arrests have been made in connection with Stacy’s disappearance, and Morphey has not even been called before the grand jury reviewing the cases of both Peterson’s last two wives.
The near year and a half that has passed since he first told police and prosecutors his story has spurred him to question what progress has been made in the case, and to speak out publicly about the last time he was in his stepbrother’s house.
Morphey said the day before the blue barrel incident, Peterson showed up at his home, ostensibly to take him to a nearby Meijer store, where Peterson, the overnight sergeant for the Bolingbrook Police Department, had supposedly lined up a job interview for Morphey.
But Peterson and Morphey never made it to Meijer. Instead, Morphey said, Peterson drove him to a park off Remington Boulevard.
“We went to that park to discuss Stacy cheating on him, and he had to take care of the problem,” Morphey said.
He assumed Peterson planned to murder someone but that his target was Stacy’s supposed boyfriend.
“I didn’t think for a minute he was going to try to kill her,” he said. Then Peterson started asking strange questions.
“How much do you love me?” Morphey said Peterson asked him, and Morphey answered that he did love him, a lot.
Peterson then asked, “Enough to kill for me?” “No, I couldn’t live with myself,” Morphey said.
Peterson pressed on, asking, “Could you live with knowing about it?”
Morphey replied, “Yeah, I guess. We always figured you killed Kathleen.”
Morphey said Peterson then drove him to a storage facility and asked him to rent a unit, using his own name. Morphey had not brought along his required state identification. Peterson, fearing that leaving to get it and then returning would attract undue attention, dropped Morphey at home, Morphey said.
A few hours later, Morphey said, he called Peterson and told him this was something he couldn’t get involved with. Peterson, he said, replied, “OK, I can respect that.”
Morphey said he feared a life was at stake, but did not know where to turn because Peterson was a police officer. “It’s just something I have to live with,” Morphey said. “I grew up Catholic. I believe if you take another life, you go to hell.”
Morphey and Peterson forged a relationship in the mid 90s, after the marriage of Morphey’s father and Peterson’s mother. After Morphey’s own marraige broke down, he moved in with a sister in Bolingbrook. That’s when he got to know Drew Peterson.
“My son’s a cop there,” Morphey recalled his new stepmother telling him. “He’ll take care of you.”
Since Stacy’s disappearance and the revelation that police believe Morphey helped Peterson dispose of her body, Peterson has repeatedly disparaged his stepbrother.
Told of the interview with Morphey, Peterson said Monday, “He’s lying. He’s hallucinating.” Just last week, Peterson’s attorney, Joel Brodsky issued a statement in which he said Morphey “has a documented history of severe mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction.”
Morphey concedes he has been diagnosed as manic-depressive, was arrested twice for driving under the influence, and did a stint in rehab in the wake of his mother’s death.
Since then, he said, he has straightened out his life. He has lived with the same woman, Sheryl Alcox, and her three sons, 11-year-old twins and an 18-year-old, for almost nine years. The three young men excel academically, and Morphey¹s life would be back together, he believes, if his stepbrother had not come calling the weekend of Oct. 27, 2007.
Cell phone calls
The night after their trip to the park on Remington, and then the storage facility, Morphey said Peterson showed up again. Morphey admits he’d been drinking beer, but claims to have a clear recollection of what transpired.
“He just started driving,” Morphey said. The two men got coffee at a Starbucks drive-through before heading to a park off Weber Road. There, Morphey said, Peterson handed him a cell phone, told him not to answer it, then left.
Morphey said he paced back and forth in the dark, wondering, “Is he killing someone?” About 45 minutes later the phone rang. Then it rang again. Both times, the caller ID showed “Stacy’s cell,” he said. It was then he “got a pretty good idea” that Peterson was not scheming to do in anybody’s boyfriend.
“Really, all I could think when I saw “Stacy” on the phone was he was killing her while I was standing there,” he said.
Peterson returned to the park within an hour of the phone calls, Morphey said, and Drew insisted he help him “at the house moving something.” They went inside the Peterson house, and Morphey noticed all of the children’s bedroom doors were closed. They took the barrel “right out the front door” to Peterson’s Yukon Denali, which was parked in the driveway, Morphey said. Part of a thick plastic bag was protruding from the lid of the barrel, he said.
After loading the barrel, Morphey said, Peterson dropped him off at his home and told him, “This never happened.”
“I said, ‘Don’t worry. I won’t say a word.”
But it did not take Morphey long to talk. Frantic, he left his house and went up the street to see his friend Walter Martineck. He told Martineck everything and stayed at Martineck’s until Alcox called and told him to come home.
Morphey spent the next day at the hospital with Alcox. He spoke on the phone with Peterson, he said, telling him he wanted to hang himself. Peterson, he said, told him not to worry.
When he got home that night, Morphey started drinking again. He spoke on the phone with one of his brothers. He had told the brother some of the details from the past weekend, and the brother told him he called the FBI about it.
Morphey said he hung up on his brother, ate two bottles of pills, and got in bed. He says he tried to kill himself to keep his girlfriend and her sons safe from Peterson. But Morphey’s brother called 911, and soon emergency responders were banging on the door.
On that Tuesday morning, after returning from Edward Hospital in Naperville, Alcox said Peterson showed up at their door, not long after she saw a story on the TV news about Stacy’s disappearance.
She told Peterson about Morphey’s suicide attempt. He offered his help but said nothing about his wife’s disappearance, she said.
Martineck then arrived and drove Alcox to District 5 State Police Headquarters in Crest Hill. Soon after, troopers headed to the hospital in Naperville. But before they got there, Peterson paid his stepbrother a visit, one Morphey remembers only through the haze of medication. Martineck said the state cops just missed him.
The next day, Morphey got his offer of immunity. Glasgow showed up himself to grant it. He had a couple state troopers with him, and they talked to Morphey in a coffee room.
“It was the first of many interrogations,” Morphey said. “They went easy on me there.” But the grilling got tougher, he said, with police accusing him of killing Stacy. Morphey figures he underwent about 40 hours of interrogation that included threats to pull his immunity.
Morphey said he spent about five months away from his family for his own protection. The state police first put him and Alcox up in a motel about two hours from his home. Alcox returned after a long weekend.
“I was put at various locations,” he said. “I didn’t know where I’d be staying from one night to the other.” In December, the state police found a permanent location for Morphey out of state, but by “February or March, I just decided enough was enough,” he said.
Police, he said, reluctantly agreed to let him return home.
That was a year ago. And Morphey has yet to speak a word to the ongoing grand jury convened to hear evidence about Stacy¹s disappearance and Savio’s death.
“All contact’s pretty much been broken,” he said. And Morphey feels “betrayed.”
Charles B. Pelkie, spokesman for the state¹s attorney¹s office, said he was precluded from discussing Morphey’s story. “I can’t comment on any aspect of a pending investigation,” he said.
The state police have told Morphey to keep his mouth shut, Morphey said. But he wants to know what the police are waiting for. “I just feel like the truth needs to be told at some point,” he said. “…I don¹t know if I’ll get my day in court.”
Morphey doesn’t know if Peterson will have his day in court, either.
“I know what I know,” he said. “Drew knows what I know.”