David Murray was gracious enough to answer some questions regarding the original Kathleen Savio investigation. We thank him for his time.
[Excerpt From Chicago Magazine, May, 2008]: Chicago magazine’s unofficial Bolingbrook bureau, David Murray writes this month in the Reporter column Unanswered Cries about the death of Kathleen Savio, Drew Peterson’s third wife. Making appearances are the chief of police, the Will County state’s attorney, and Bolingbrook mayor Roger Claar (whom Murray profiled in Chicago’s October 2007 issue). “I don’t think [the Peterson saga] could have happened in Chicago,” Murray says. “It’s specifically a story about Bolingbrook and Will County.” Explosive population growth and its concomitant problems have come to the new southwestern suburbs in the past few decades, but in many cases, the towns are governed by the same people who governed them when they were smaller. “They are seriously in the big leagues,” Murray says.
When you were writing the Unanswered Cries piece, did you uncover anything or learn anything in particular that gave you a reason to conclude how accident was listed as Kathleen’s cause of death? Cover up, incompetency, complacency? What is your opinion?
I’d say incompetence due to complacency, and then kind of a queasy cover-up. A longtime Will County watcher I spoke with called the politicians and law enforcement people out there “a bunch of chicken farmers.” Meaning, most of them rose through the ranks many years ago when Will County was basically Joliet surrounded by farm country and some villages—long before it became a Chicago-like bustling population center with a high volume of exotic crimes and other problems. The feeling I got as I grilled various Will County officials about why they didn’t take this Savio story more seriously from beginning to end (and after the end) was kind of a self-pitying: How could we have known this was going to become such a big deal? To be honest, I felt for them—and hoped voters would put them out to pasture on the nearest remaining chicken farm. Or maybe they’ve learned their lessons and are getting up to speed. You guys would know that better than I would.
Did you interview anyone who wasn’t comfortable with the findings regarding Kathleen’s death, but, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t or couldn’t come forward?
Not that I recall. There were some people who I wanted to talk to who I couldn’t reach—Savio’s boyfriend for instance—and didn’t have the resources to track down. Did I walk away from this story believing there was more to it than I had written down? Yes.
Did you interview anyone within the BB village that gave you the impression Peterson was their dirty little secret, but they were willing to turn a blind eye for unknown reasons? Do you think his superiors, or Village officials, were willing to short circuit a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding his ex-wife’s death?
Mayor Claar had a relationship with Peterson and I’m sure would have rather kept this story inside Bolingbrook and maybe tried to hush it, perhaps sympathetic to Peterson’s characterization of his wife as a “hellcat.” But had he believed Savio was in real danger I don’t think he would have protected Drew. And I never found any evidence that Claar had any influence on the state police investigation of Savio’s death or on the coroner’s jury.
Do you have an opinion how a police official testified before the panel who wasn’t even present at the death scene, and had no firsthand knowledge of the crime scene investigation?
No. I told Coroner Pat O’Neil that I thought he should have postponed the coroner’s jury until the state police’s lead investigator could appear, and he simply said that wasn’t done. I got the feeling it would be done from now on.
Do you have an opinion about whether the political BB incumbents are either hampering or helping in the present investigation of what’s now been classified as a homicide of Kathleen Savio?
As far as I know, BB authorities—from mayor to the new police chief—haven’t been involved in the investigation—but I haven’t been on this for more than a year, so maybe you know something I don’t. I appreciate your continuing to follow this case, and will look to your blog to keep myself up to speed.
Line and paragraph breaks are automatic in comments. The following HTML is allowed if you want to use some:
<a href=""> <abbr> <acronym> <b> <blockquote> <cite> <pre> <em> <i> <q> <strike> <strong>