Pathologist: Savio was victim of homicide
February 5, 2010
By JOE HOSEY
JOLIET — The forensic pathologist who determined Kathleen Savio was slain spoke publicly for the first time aout the autopsy performed on her exhumed body.
Dr. Larry Blum testified Thursday that a laceration to Savio’s head and the bruises and scrapes on her body could not have been caused by an accidental fall in her bathtub, as state police concluded after investigating her March 2004 death.
Blum was on the witness stand for most of the 13th day of the pivotal hearing to determine what hearsay evidence will be allowed at Drew Peterson’s upcoming murder trial.
Peterson is charged with drowning Savio, who was his third wife, even though the police maintained for three and a half years that she died accidentally. State police changed their tune after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished.
Peterson faces no charges in connection with Stacy’s disappearance, but prosecutors are trying at the hearsay hearing to prove he killed her to keep her to keep her from testifying against him.
Proving that will allow some second-hand statements to be used in court during the Savio murder trial, per a relatively new Illinois law.
Soon after Stacy vanished in October 2007, Savio’s grave was dug up in Hillside’s Queen of Heaven Cemetery was dug up. At the request of police, Blum performed a new autopsy on her badly decomposed remains. for police
At the request of Savio’s family, celebrity medical examiner Michael Baden also conducted an autopsy, parts of which were broadcast on Fox News Channel without showing Savio’s body.
Both Blum and Baden determined Savio was the victim of a homicide.
One of Peterson’s attorneys, Joel Brodsky tried for hours without success to get Blum to concede that Savio’s death might have been a suicide or an accident. He also pieced together various speculative scenarios, such as Savio slipping on a bar of soap, striking her head and drowning.
“The ugly facts of the injuries destroy that beautiful theory,” Blum said.
Blum also pointed out that there was no sign of blood or hair on the walls or tub, which led him to believe Savio’s head had been struck by something else.
Blum’s findings did not differ greatly with those of the first autopsy, performed just after Savio’s death by forensic pathologist Bryan Mitchell, but Blum did say he gathered more samples and performed additional tests, including one to tell whether Savio was sexually assaulted.
Mitchell did not perform this test because he was told “it wasn’t foul play,” Blum said.
“The state didn’t want to do it,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen him do one.”
It turned out Savio had not been sexually assaulted.
Blum said he visited the death scene, which was something else Mitchell did not do, and even climbed into the bathtub.
“I wanted to get a feel for the size of it and I wanted to put myself in her position,” he explained.
Cops not ‘on her side’
Before Blum took the stand, a friend and classmate of Savio’s from the Joliet Junior College nursing program testified about threats Peterson allegedly made to his third wife.
“More than once she told me he could kill her and no one would know and no one would find out,” said the friend, Mary Parks of Joliet.
Savio believed Peterson was stalking her, Parks said, and she showed her red marks on her neck she claimed Peterson put there when he pinned her down with his hands.
Parks said she urged Savio to call the police but Savio did not see the point.
“She felt that the police weren’t on her side or interested in hearing her side,” Parks said. “She thought it would just make it worse.”
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