Stepbrother: Drew asked if I’d kill for him
BOLINGBROOK — Drew Peterson’s stepbrother pieced together the accused wife-killer’s allegedly murderous schemes and revealed how he was supposedly roped into helping dispose of Stacy Peterson’s body. Morphey, whose father is married to Peterson’s mother, told his shocking tale from the witness stand on the second day of a historic hearing to determine what hearsay evidence will be allowed at Peterson’s murder trial. Peterson faces murder charges in connection with the March 2004 apparent bathtub drowning of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Prosecutors are trying to prove he killed Stacy Peterson so she could not testify against him. Stacy Peterson vanished in October 2007. The state police believe she may have been slain and have named Peterson their only suspect in the case but have yet to make an arrest.
Morphey’s testimony mirrored an exclusive account he gave The Herald-News in March. In that interview, and in court Thursday, Morphey told how Peterson asked him, “Do you love me?’ and when Morphey said he did, continued with, “Enough to kill for me?” When Morphey said he could not live with himself if he killed someone, Peterson asked if he “could live with knowing about it,” to which Morphey replied, “I always assumed you killed Kathleen.” Morphey also told how Peterson dropped him off in a park with a cell phone for about an hour the night after Stacy was last seen alive. He said Peterson told him not to answer the phone when it rang. The phone rang twice, Morphey said, and both times the caller ID showed Stacy’s name. Peterson then picked up Morphey and brought him to the Peterson residence. The two men went inside, Morphey said, and carried a blue plastic barrel weighing about 150 pounds downstairs to Peterson’s sport utility vehicle. Distraught at the notion of aiding Peterson in the murder of his wife, Morphey attempted suicide by overdosing on tranquilizers. The state police interviewed him in the hospital and State’s Attorney James Glasgow granted him immunity for his testimony. Morphey also said Peterson confided that Stacy was cheating on him with two possible lovers, one of whom he wanted to frame for Stacy’s murder. Peterson asked him to drive Stacy’s car to Shorewood, where one of Stacy’s men lived, and leave the car there with the keys in the ashtray in an attempt to lead the cops there, Morphey said. He also said Peterson tried to get him to rent a storage locker in Romeoville. “He said he wanted it in my name, that he would pay me $200 up front to rent it and when that ran out, he (would give) me more money. Concerned about a decomposing body beginning stink, Morphey said he asked, “What about the smell?” but Peterson reassured him. “He said a sealed container, he said it would be air-tight,” Morphey said. “He said I should check it from time to time to make sure there was no odor.” “He’d leave the container there for six months until the smoke cleared and then he’d dispose of it,” Morphey said, and “If something happened to him, if he had a heart attack, to dump it in the canal.” Morphey said Peterson told him Stacy was demanding a divorce. She wanted Peterson out of the house in four days, was seeking custody of their two children along with the two born to Savio, who she adopted, and had her eyes on quite a bit of her old man’s assets. “She wanted half his pension, which meant he had to work for the rest of his life,” Morphey said. Peterson was also worried that if Stacy had custody of his kids, her brother, convicted sexual predator Yelton Cales, could get at them, Morphey said.
‘He’s a very ill man’
During the hearing, Glasgow played a telephone conversation between Peterson and Morphey that was taped by the state police. On the tape, Peterson orders Morphey not to talk to the press or the police, and warns him about discussing things on the phone. One of Peterson’s attorneys, George Lenard, raised the issue of Morphey’s drug and alcohol problems, pointed out that he suffers from bipolar disorder and claimed Peterson just wanted to rent the storage locker so he could hide things in it before Stacy filed for divorce. Another of Peterson’s attorneys, Joel Brodsky, attacked Morphey’s credibility during a break in the hearing.
Drew’s son speaks Morphey was followed to the stand by Peterson’s estranged son Eric Peterson. The older of two children born to Peterson’s first wife, Carol Brown, who is neither missing nor murdered, Eric Peterson, 31, recounted a savage tale of domestic abuse he says Drew Peterson perpetrated on Savio in 1993. Eric Peterson and his younger brother, Stephen Peterson, were visiting their father and Savio for the weekend when Drew hauled his wife through the front door by her hair. “She was being dragged and fighting to stop being dragged,” Eric Peterson said, adding that Savio was shouting obscenities at her husband, begging the children to call the police and “screaming for help.” Eric Peterson said his father ordered his sons upstairs and pulled Savio down to the basement. He said the commotion downstairs sounded like a train ran through the house. One of Savio’s sisters and the police later showed up. The next morning, Eric Peterson said, there was no sign of Savio, but the house was strewn with broken glass and overturned furniture. Eric Peterson said it was apparent that Savio was drunk the night Drew Peterson dragged her around. Eric Peterson said he has not spoken to his father since January 2003. “I don’t love him or hate him,” Eric Peterson said of his father. “It’s separate of emotion. It’s indifference.”
Sergeant takes stand
The last witness called Thursday was retired state police Sgt. Patrick Collins, who headed up the Savio death investigation. In his 22 years as a detective, Collins said he had never handled a homicide. And the Savio case would not be his first, as he and two other investigators decided about a half hour after showing up at Savio’s house that her death was likely accidental. Savio’s death would be officially classified as such following a coroner’s inquest that featured testimony from a state police special agent who said investigators found no sign of foul play. Collins said Peterson told the state police that he and Savio had an amiable relationship at the time of her death and did not stand to profit from her dying. “He said basically he would gain nothing because during the divorce Kathy changed some of the paperwork,” said Collins, whose testimony will continue today.
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