Stacy Peterson was last heard from five years ago, today. On a lazy Sunday morning, she texted a friend that she wasn’t ready to get out of bed and go help with some painting and then…silence. No more texts, no phone calls, no email, no sightings of her since that moment.
Her sister, Cassandra Cales, had been with her the night before and was already nervous about Stacy’s well-being. She knew that Stacy wanted to divorce her police officer husband, Drew, but that she was afraid he wouldn’t let her go. Her neighbor, Sharon Bychowski, had seen her sitting on the curb and crying in the days prior to her disappearance and had been told that she thought she would not make it out alive. She had confided a terrible secret to at least three people in the weeks before–that her husband had killed his third wife and that she had provided him with an alibi.
Stacy thought that this information might buy her and her children an escape from Drew, but it may well have cost her her life instead.
During Drew Peterson’s murder trial I received a lot of emails from people–really great emails for the most part filled with support for this site as well as the Savios, the Cales, and the prosecutors. Of course there were a few nutty negative emails as well, but those were expected.
But beyond that, there were also a few troubling emails. These came from people who, although they believed Peterson was guilty of killing Kathleen Savio, had difficulty accepting the idea that Stacy knew about her murder but did nothing about it until three years later when she wanted out of her marriage. These emails were from the nicest people you could imagine, who believed that Peterson killed not only Kathleen but Stacy as well, and they asked about this facet of the case tentatively, obviously not comfortable sharing their thoughts in the comments sections of the blog.
One woman, hoping that someone might have the answer just asked:
“I hope you can answer a question for me. After Neil Schori’s testimony yesterday, I have to wonder why Stacy Peterson waited until August of 2007 to tell her secret? That’s almost 3 1/2 years after Kathleen’s death. Why did Stacy wait so long to speak up?”
Another person took a few paragraphs to get to the point and then finally came out with it:
“Shame on Stacy. I don’t think she had one ounce of self-esteem and had no way of knowing right from wrong…She raised Kathleen’s son’s knowing their dad killed her. That’s messed up.”
It’s true that Stacy was not always kind to Kathleen during the first part of their relationship and that she later kept Drew’s dark secret for three years. However, she was only a teenager when they met and was no doubt under a good deal of control by Drew, so I factor that in when I think about her behavior towards Kathleen. I admit with some discomfort that I do find Stacy culpable to a degree for protecting Drew and providing him with an alibi.
That said, I guess I don’t dwell on it or feel anger towards her at this point because although I learned those facts of the case very early on, they were so eclipsed by the transgressions of Peterson himself.
In our country you have the right to be tried for your crimes and judged by a jury of your peers. Stacy Peterson was robbed of that right while her husband received the full benefit of the legal system. In my opinion, Drew Peterson was Stacy’s self-appointed judge, jury and executioner and he meted out a death sentence not as a matter of justice, but in order to hide a crime of his own. I think someday it will be proven in court that he killed her out of cowardice and greed. No matter what she might have been charged with, the sentence would not have been to be murdered at the hands of someone who had sworn to love and protect her.
I never think “shame on Stacy” because she never benefited from her right to representation and never got a fair day in court. She was abruptly silenced and denied the chance to either explain her actions or to defend herself against the slanderous accusations that have been made by Peterson and his lawyers since her disappearance.
It’s especially galling when you think about the fact that while Drew Peterson has now been convicted of the murder of Kathleen Savio, he still has parental rights over Stacy’s children and can legally keep her family from spending time with them.
Even if you feel that Stacy Peterson deserved punitive measures for not speaking up about the murder sooner, I don’t think there are many who would say that she hasn’t paid the price ten times over and then some.
She didn’t deserve to be killed and her children didn’t deserve to be robbed of their mother.
I try to take my cue from the Savio family who have found it in their hearts to put aside any resentment and have stood by the Cales to work towards getting justice for both Stacy and Kathleen. If the only people in the world who have a legitimate reason to be angry have demonstrated that they can get over it, so can you.
And of course there’s only one appropriate question to ask today: Where is Stacy?
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