Book: Susan Murphy Milano’s Holding my Hand Through Hell

I can’t recall the first time I heard of Susan Murphy Milano. I know it was in the first few months after the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and the re-examination of the events surrounding what was initially ruled the accidental death of Kathleen Savio.

Most likely it was a post on her blog that came up during a search for information, or maybe someone left a link to a podcast of the show Justice Interrupted hosted by Susan, Stacy Dittrich and Robin Sax. Whatever the case, I was immediately struck by her passion, her energy and her fearlessness when it came to discussion of not only the anti-hero Drew Peterson, but the system and the players who had failed his two wives and especially Kathleen Savio.

Even after run-ins with Drew Peterson’s lawyer, Joel Brodsky, Susan still spoke her mind about the case with a sharpness and sense of humor that showed everyone that she was not the kind of person who could be easily intimidated.

This summer I was very sad to learn that Susan Murphy Milano was diagnosed with stage four multi-organ cancer. This month she made the decision to suspend treatment and allow the natural course of events to take place as they will.

This decision coincides with the release of her latest book, Holding My Hand Through Hell, which is Susan’s autobiography and a fitting swan song to her life as a tireless champion of the abused.

Susan’s story begins in a middle-class home in Chicago, presided over by her alcoholic police officer father, whose horrific abuse of the family is told with Susan’s typical candor. The helplessness she felt when law enforcement would look the other way out of “professional courtesy” will strike a chord with anyone who has been following the Peterson cases.

The eventual murder/suicide of her parents started Susan on a crusade to aid and empower victims of abuse – an effort that touched the lives of many women and gave Susan a measure of celebrity but which also took a toll on her private life, straining relationships with those closest to her and even alienating her son.

Susan takes you along with her as she experiences her hopes, her victories and her disappointments, the struggle to trust and love after growing up in a violently dysfunctional family, and the relentless drive to help others even when her own life has been shattered and then pieced back together and held in place by the barest of support.

~By commenting you agree to be bound by the rules of this blog. You can contact admins directly by sending an email to

The following HTML tags are allowed: <a href=""> <abbr> <acronym> <b> <blockquote> <cite> <pre> <em> <i> <q> <strike> <strong>


59 thoughts on “Book: Susan Murphy Milano’s Holding my Hand Through Hell

  1. Susan realizes more than most that time can be short. She has lived life fully grasping it and making the most of it, and she will leave behind a larger legacy than most can ever hope to leave behind. So I know I speak on behalf of Susan when I say these words, fight the fear, follow your dream, seize the day, don’t be afraid to love, take a chance. You never know when your time might be up.

  2. Well no wonder the Peterson case struck a cord to her and is so important to her, it is very similar to her life growing up and her home life with a abusive father who happens to be a cop where others looked the other way because he was a cop the same way for Drew.

  3. Sue speaks in Madera, California today:

    Sue Savio
    Mitch and I arrived yesterday in california and the wheather is 88 degrees !!! Got my shorts on. This morning i met with the manager at medera womens shelter to go over my presentation on wendsday. We so far have over 100 ppl in attended !! Went to united church where i will speak on wensday and met some very nice people. It brings me so much joy to speak on behalf of kathleen. My hope is to reach out to the victims in this community in honor of my sister, and so they will not have to suffer like she did. She will never be forgotten ! She is my angel !!!

  4. Chicago Crime Commission to honor Drew Peterson prosecutor
    Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow to receive Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award

    Chicago, IL – Wednesday, October 17, 2012 –The Chicago Crime Commission announced that Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow will be honored on Wednesday, November 7th at its Stars of Distinction, 2012 Awards Dinner. Glasgow will receive the prestigious Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award for his outstanding effort in the prosecution of former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

    “We are pleased to recognize the efforts of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow by honoring him with the Chicago Crime Commission’s Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award,” according to J.R. Davis, President and Chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission. “His unrelenting commitment to justice prompted the passage of legislation that will forever affect how prosecutorial procedures are carried out in Illinois,” he added.

    After nearly two years of litigation before the Third District Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court, State’s Attorney Glasgow and his team were granted a ruling that would change the course of the case. In April 2012 the Third District Appellate Court effectively overturned Judge Stephen White’s earlier decision by ruling that the prosecution team could use eight statements made by both the victim prior to her death and by Peterson’s still-missing fourth wife, Stacy, prior to her disappearance.

    The Peterson prosecution was a five-year process that involved a number of groundbreaking initiatives. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office conducted an 18-month Special Grand Jury investigation following the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. In addition, State’s Attorney Glasgow filed a petition to exhume the body of Kathleen Savio, after which second and third autopsies revealed compelling new evidence that assisted him in proving she was murdered and not the victim of a slip-and-fall accident.

    State’s Attorney Glasgow also worked with the General Assembly to draft and enact new legislation that placed the concept of “forfeiture by wrongdoing” into the Illinois criminal rules of evidence. Forfeiture by wrongdoing enables prosecutors to enter relative and probative hearsay statements into evidence if they can prove a defendant killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying. The Illinois Supreme Court eventually adopted the common law doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing in its decision regarding a DuPage County murder case and then adopted the federal rules on forfeiture by wrongdoing.

    On September 6, 2012 after a lengthy and contentious trial, a jury convicted Drew Peterson of the first-degree murder of Kathleen Savio. He currently awaits sentencing. “Through patience and diligence, James Glasgow brought a guilty man to justice. He truly exemplifies the meaning of the title ‘Prosecutor’,” Davis commented.

    The Chicago Crime Commission Stars of Distinction Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award is named after the late assistant U.S. Attorney who is credited with convicting some of Chicago’s most notorious organized crime figures in the Operation Family Secrets trial. “As a recipient of the Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award, Glasgow finds himself in the company of some of Illinois’ finest prosecutors,” Davis continued. “Past recipients of the award include state and federal prosecutors responsible for ridding our communities of street gang leaders, outfit members, drug dealers and murderers,” he added.

  5. Statement from State’s Attorney James Glasgow regarding Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award

    “I am truly honored to accept the distinguished Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award on behalf of the entire Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and the extraordinarily talented prosecutors who helped secure this important verdict,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “This five-year battle made it all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court and back before culminating with a critical victory for battered and abused women across Illinois. Successful prosecutions like this are only possible through the hard work and dedication of every attorney, legal secretary and administrator in my office. I am blessed to have such an excellent staff.”

  6. I second winsome, above. Thanks, Facs. Susan MM has made a profound difference, and her influence will only grow. It is a bit sobering to think that it will now be up to the rest of us to build on her achieivements if we can.

    Congratulations to SA Glasgow and his ‘firm’. 😀

  7. Sure, why not?

    ‘World’s Most Litigious Man’ Files in Peterson Case, Says He’s Drew’s Lover
    A Pennsylvania man famous for filing bizarre lawsuits is now part of the Drew Peterson case.
    By Joseph Hosey

    Former federal prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches has sued Bill Belichick, George W. Bush, Steve Jobs and Perez Hilton, and now he’s filed a motion in the Drew Peterson case claiming he was the convicted wife-killer’s lover.

    “Drew Peterson and I were in a sexual relationship in the 1990’s and Drew forced me to commit identity theft to finance his sexual lifestyle,” Riches wrote to the court in a “motion for the right to be heard under the victims rights act.”

    Riches claims he used a stolen credit card to “buy Drew Peterson a sex outfit from adam & eve of officer friendly and Drew forced me to wear it for him while we watched the 1980’s police academy series and Drew used to call me hightower and Drew and I went to dance against my will in will county at the blue oyster bar and we did karaoke with tom cruise before he was a top gun pilot and Drew used to chase me in my neighborhood as the dukes of hazzard and boss hog was sold to muslims under drews direct orders.”

    In his letter to the court, Riches claims his alias is the name of alleged Aurora, Colo., movie theater murderer James Eagan Holmes.

    Riches does quite a bit of name-dropping in his Drew letter, claiming connections to Rod Blagojevich, the actual James Eagan Holmes, the Masons, President Obama, Sirhan Sirhan, Morgan Freeman, Jerry Sandusky, O.J. Simpson, Hurricane Katrina, Jimmy Hoffa and Rihanna.

    Riches, 35, was released from federal prison on April 30. He did time for wire fraud. According to his letter to the court and his Facebook page, he now lives in West Chester, Penn.

    The Guinness Book of World Records planned to honor Riches as the World’s Most Litigious Man in 2009, according to an ABC News story. Riches responded by suing.

  8. Congratulations to Jim Glasgow, and his staff. I am so happy you won such a prestigious award, for all the hard work you have done on this case. You, and your staff, truly deserve this kind of recognition.

    I can’t help compare what is going on in your life, and what is happening to the defense side.

    How much better your life is going, than their’s. As it should be. Your dedication to this case, has been relentless, and you deserve all the best.

  9. So sorry to hear about Susan Murphy Milano.
    She is an incredible woman, and an amazing advocate for all abused women. It is my understanding that she “passed the torch” to Neil Shori, a while back, who she wanted to carry on her work for abused women.
    She made a very wise choice in Neil. I wonder if he would give us a statement? Would be good to hear from him, about this. Maybe later, he will talk about it.

  10. Jeannie. I join you in congratulating James Glasgow. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to quietly persevere in the face of all that Brodsky and Drew public nonsense.

    It took a real man to back away from the legislation that he had pushed for when it became clear that it wasn’t going to help him with this case. Unlike the defense attorneys, he was able to put his ego on check when he needed to, and pursue the legal remedy that would result in justice for Kathleen Savio and her family.

    I’m not sure that the press release above accurately describes the situation. “Forfeiture by wrongdoing” was already an accepted exception to the hearsay rule in Illinois and the new hearsay statute was almost the undoing of the state’s case. But I do believe Glasgow deserves accolades for his dedication to the people of Illinois and the Kathleen Savio case. It could not have been an easy one.

  11. Facs,
    Thank you for posting Neil Schori’s contribution to Susan. It had me in tears. How very touching. Like I said, I feel Susan is a very wise woman, and couldn’t have made a better choice than Neil, to help carry on her work. He is very dedicated to helping abused women, since he was drawn into Stacy’s and Kathleen’s cases. Amazing how these two women, whose lives have ended so tragically, have united so many people, to come together for the good of abused women, everywhere.

  12. Facs,
    On your comment about Jim Glasgow. You said it so much better than I did. You put into words, my very thoughts and feelings, about this man. And I do mean Man. I said before, and I will say it again. He is the Only Real Man of the lot, between the prosecutor’s side, and the defense side.

    You explained it so well, when he had to back off of his own legislature, to go with what was already a law, to win the Justice for the people of Illinois, and for Kathleen, and her Family, that they so deserved, and had been waiting on for so long. He has won a lot of respect, along with winning this case for Justice.

    I sure wish the press would get that straightened out, about the difference in those laws, and which one Jim Glasgow had to use in this case to win Justice.

    Thanks to you Facs, for your relentless research, and steadfastness, in this case. I think this blog is one of the few places, that have truly gotten that correct. I hope more people read your comment and see just what that man went through, to win this case.
    We need more prosecutor’s like him, who are willing to put their ego’s aside, and put the good of the people, Before their ego’s.
    I can’t imagine what these 5 years have been like for him, except when I saw and heard the passion in him, as he gave his first statement to the press After the Trial and Conviction of Drew Peterson. I was elated for him, and I think he was Finally vindicated for everything he had to put up with, from Drew and Brodsky.

    The people of Illinois are very lucky to have such a man, that cares so much, and has no fear, of doing what is Right, and in the face of such adversity, in the Courts, and the Press, he prevailed, and got Justice. Where lesser men, may have given up, long ago, and forgotten this case, he prevailed in the face of evil. And now, evil sits locked up, where he belongs!!!

  13. Kudos to James Glasgow and his team. Their perseverance and dedication brought justice for Kathleen and hope for other victims of abuse. It was a long, hard fight, and they deserve to be honored.

  14. Thanks for participating in the Virtual Book Tour and your great review!

    Many of us have always wondered what made this woman so passionate, so outspoken, so unafraid to face down the dragons for other women, Holding My Hand Through Hell explains it all, and also shows us Susan’s vulnerabilities, the little girl who couldn’t save her mother.

    Before the Illinois hearsay law was passed, Susan was working with victims using the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, ( which essentially addresses the forfeiture clause as well as the confrontation clause in Crawford v Washington and California v Giles.

    Her legacy will be carried on through Document the Abuse with Neil Schori, Sandra L. Brown and myself putting together a network of committed people across the country.. Hopefully she will be proud.


  15. I asked Jeff Ruby via Twitter and he said that Stephen White will be representing him (as Anna thought) but that he doesn’t have court tomorrow. Will County Circuit Court says he’s got a status hearing tomorrow but it wouldn’t be the first time that the site was wrong…

  16. I am so glad he’s going to represent Jeff Ruby….he only said what we’ve been thinking ….Judge White was excited the day he was arrested…I’d like to be a fly on the wall….keeps us informed facs…you are a bucket of information…thanks for everything….

  17. I like Judge/Attorney White. When he was presiding over the Peterson trial I really didn’t get a feel for him, but post-retirement his In Session commentary during the trial was always really good and he came off as very personable.

  18. Susan Savio Doman spoke at the Soup Bowl Event in Madera to tell the tragic story of her sister’s murder by her husband, Drew Peterson.

    Peterson, a former Illinois police officer, was convicted in September for killing Kathleen Savio.

    The case gained national attention because Peterson is also suspected in the disappearance of his 4th wife.

    Peterson’s former sister-in-law is now telling the story to save other women from a similar fate.

    Susan Savio Doman said, “I believe that she fought for her life. She reached out to everyone for help and no one helped her, so this is a story that may be able to help others in the same situation, but they may want to do things a little bit differently.”

    October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

  19. Well, what do you know. The nutty guy who mentioned Drew Peterson in a law suit recently is the same guy who named him in another frivolous suit back in 2008

    I thought it seemed familiar:

    Riches v. Savio et al
    Plaintiff: Jonathan Lee Riches
    Defendant: Kathleen Savio and Drew Peterson
    Case Number: 3:2008cv00447
    Filed: January 22, 2008
    Court: California Northern District Court
    Office: San Francisco Office [ Court Info ]
    County: San Francisco
    Presiding Judge: Hon. Martin J. Jenkins
    Nature of Suit: P. Petitions – Civil Rights
    Cause: 42:1983 Prisoner Civil Rights
    Jurisdiction: Federal Question
    Jury Demanded By: None

  20. Riches’ wife, Naomi, is also in on the action:

    Naomi Riches, of Pennsylvania, is suing Casey for, get ready for it, $3 billion! You may ask; what egregious act could be worth such a suit?

    According to the lawsuit posted by RadarOnline, Riches say Casey is an “Illuminati actress” who made threats to kill her and has caused “severe psychological damage.”

    We can’t comment on the Illuminati allegation, but the psychological damage part is coming through loud and clear.

    In the lawsuit, Riches also claims, “Casey Anthony called my house August 2011 and told me that my life was being exploited and that I was a hated nation wife…”


  21. whenever you file and are awaiting a court date there is a fee….I don’t know how much …it depends where you live or file…nothing is free…it scares me to think the Riches are voting in Nov….hello are they for real…

  22. Sheesh! Can’t believe Mrs. Riches is doing it too – guess we have to look at the bright side and enjoy a few laughs 🙂

    Facs, thanks for the info on Judge/Attorney White (or should I say Drexel?) I became a big fan during his In Session appearances. Such a pleasant personality combined with wit, and a fountain of information. Wish we had a hot-line to him so we could pick his brain every day!

  23. Anna, I wouldn’t be worried about the Riches voting in November. Most likely they’ll be writing in Atilla the Hun, or Obi Wan Kenobi.

    Some of Riches’ defendants are not even people or potentially sueable. These include “Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party” and the “13 tribes of Israel.”[23] One lawsuit, which includes George Bush, also includes another 783 defendants that cover 57 pages. They include Plato, Nostradamus, Che Guevara, James Hoffa, “Various Buddhist Monks,” all survivors of the Holocaust, the Lincoln Memorial, the Eiffel Tower, the USS Cole, the book Mein Kampf, the Garden of Eden, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Appalachian Trail, Plymouth Rock, the Holy Grail, Nordic gods, the dwarf planet Pluto, and the entire Three Mile Island.[24]

  24. Ruby is being represented by former Judge Stephen White, who was set to preside over Peterson’s murder trial in July 2010. A last minute appeal by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow put the case in a two-year limbo. In the meantime, White retired from the bench and went into private practice.

    On Friday, White spoke of settling the contempt case.

    “We’re working toward a resolution so that justice to all sides will be upheld and satisfied,” he said.

  25. does brodsky have to be there….he was the one that had him arrested…I wish he would have done it to brodsky as well…he only did what everyone else wanted to do…but didn’t have the opportunity…Ruby is my hero….

  26. From JB’s Facebook page. Hmmm does he know its October????? And Mancow? He is moving up in the world, isn’t he LOL

    I’m on Mancow’s debut TV show Monday (August 22nd). I bet it will be quite a show. Mancow is one of the good guys, brutally honest, tells it like it is, and (even though it’s not the popular thing to do) is in favor of freedom.

  27. After five years as a key player in the Drew Peterson saga, the Rev. Neil Schori ’97 is looking to turn his surreal experience as a murder-trial witness into a new mission – stopping domestic violence.

    Schori testified this summer during Peterson’s murder trial, recounting a 2007 meeting over coffee with a distressed member of his church whom he was counseling, Stacy Peterson, who went missing months later. Schori told authorities that Stacy Peterson implicated her husband, Drew, in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Schori’s hearsay evidence became a centerpiece of the prosecution’s successful conviction of Peterson in September.

    Stacy Peterson has never been found, but the pastor says she has been his inspiration for pivoting from Drew’s case toward domestic violence awareness. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
    “My entrance started with Stacy. She was the catalyst for all of it,” Schori said.

  28. Pfffft. Mancow. Honest? The guy will say anything in order to appear controversial or relevant. He changes his tune to suit the ratings. (This clip was from several years ago, before Peterson started making appearances on his show)

  29. Went back to read posts from April 1, 2009, as I wasn’t familiar with Mancow. What a horrible bunch of scum Peterson has attracted over the years while he thumbed his nose at justice and decency! Loved the “pfffft” for Macow, Facs. Ditto.

  30. it’s amazing what people will do for 5 mins. of fame…it seems they come out of the woodwork…drew and his team of idiots…are in remission …there names or faces haven’t been in the news for over a week…brodsky is pacing the floor waiting for the phone to’s time to tell us where Staci is …I promise you …you’ll get your day in court…with all the media attention….

    MOD EDIT/ Anna, her name is spelled Stacy. 🙂

  31. Carlson has criticized Glasgow for taking the role of lead prosecutor in the Peterson case, a rare move for an elected prosecutor and one of only a handful of cases he had tried during his 16 years in the post from 1992 to 2000, then from 2004 to now. In the courtroom, Glasgow was “rusty,” Carlson said, and committed errors that caused the judge to consider a mistrial.

    Glasgow says he took the lead because he reopened the investigation of Savio’s death and had an integral role in building the case and the former Bolingbrook police officer’s smirking contempt for the investigation made him an especially galling defendant.

    “I took the case, because it was my case,” Glasgow said. “No one has ever gone and killed two of their wives and given the justice system the finger the way Drew Peterson did. He laughed at us. He mocked us.”

    Glasgow is happy to go on the attack against Carlson, noting that Carlson worked as an assistant prosecutor under Jeff Tomczak both when Kathleen Savio was killed and in another sensational murder case that was botched, the 2004 murder of 3-year-old Riley Fox.

    Tomczak filed murder charges against Kevin Fox, Riley’s father, and Glasgow dropped them after winning re-election, after DNA evidence pointed to another suspect.

    “Dave Carlson was there then, and he didn’t make a peep about either one,” Glasgow said.,0,7347102.story

  32. In my opinion Glasgow did a good job in a very difficult investigation. And he’s dead right about DP (and JB, imo) giving the law the finger, and he most certainly is right not to tolerate it. He does it on our behalf, remember.

  33. I know it’s doubtful, but my heart still jumps a little when I see a story like this:

    At about 1 p.m., a fishing crew who were on the Cal Sag Channel fishing for Asian Carp discovered a skull which is suspected of being human, police said.

    The crew found the skull on the southwest bank of the channel near the 13200 block of South Indiana Avenue, police said. Chicago Police Marine Unit officers responded.

    Investigators also found additional skeletal remains in the area, police said.

    Officials were trying to determine if the remains were human.,0,7383253.story

  34. I have always felt Drew dropped Stacy down an old well or mine. Some place off the beaten path and not a likely place to look. Bodies surface too often in water. Being a cop, Drew would have known that.

    However, Lisa Stebic (sp?) has never been found either.

  35. I’ve been following this case since Stacy went missing…only because how do you have 2 wives missing or dead….drew being a cop had access to some off the beaten path places…or he could be arrogant enough to put it in our faces…I don’t live in Illinois…but places like that are everywhere….how long would he have left his kids alone to sleep…one hour two….if she’s in a blue barrel …he could have buried it….

  36. Over the years the Cal Sag channel/Sanitary Shipping Canal has been a dumping place for bodies and cars that people want to get rid of. One thing that’s indisputable is that Drew Peterson was near the Shipping Canal on the night of the day that Stacy disappeared. There have been at least two underwater searches of the area, based on Drew’s cell phone pings and sonar tips, but so far no sign of Stacy Peterson (although another family did get closure on the remains of their loved one due to efforts of searchers).

    When I see Cal Sag Channel it does pique my interest (since it’s part of the canal) but it’s true, Stacy could be anywhere. We know that Tom Morphey has said the plan was to put the container that held her body in a storage unit. But he also said he and Drew never carried through on renting one. So much time has passed that she could be anywhere.

    Morphey said one plan was to leave her car near Scott Rossetto’s house, which was in Romeoville (near the canal) which is a less than 15-minute drive from Bolingbrook. So to me, it makes sense that Drew was in that area in order to create the cell phone pings that might cast suspicion on Rossetto (using Stacy’s phone), and maybe dumping Stacy’s body at the same time.

    It was Cassandra Cales calls to his cell phone that created the pings that proved Drew Peterson was near the canal. According to Drew he was just driving around and looking for Stacy.

  37. Facs, thanks for recap of events after Stacy’s disappearance, and for keeping us updated on the human skull in Cal Sag Channel. Takes the breath away for a second whenever something like this occurs, because we’re hoping…

Comments are closed.