Has Stephen Peterson come to accept that his father is a murderer?

Yesterday the Lifetime Movie Network aired the season 2 premiere of their show, Monster in My Family, with Drew Peterson as the subject.

The somewhat exploitative show features the family members of convicted murderers telling of the struggles they face due to the nefarious actions of their loved ones and meeting with the families of victims to ask for forgiveness.

Kathleen Savio’s sister, Sue Doman (Savio), appeared in this episode as did Drew Peterson’s adult son Stephen Peterson.

It was surprising to see Stephen Peterson taking part in the show since he has eschewed interviews during the nine years or so since Stacy Peterson disappeared and his father became a household name.

It was more surprising, yet, that LMN promoted the show by saying that Stephen has now accepted that his father is a killer and that he had sat down with Kathleen’s sister in an attempt at reconciliation between the two estranged families.

Surprising, because Stephen has been taking care of Drew Peterson’s children since his father was arrested for murder in 2009, and lost his job on the Oak Brook police force when it was determined that he had interfered with an investigation when accepting guns and money from Drew in the days after Stacy’s disappearance.

Although Stephen has shied away from the publicity that his father eagerly courted and never publicly stated his stance, it has long been assumed that he supported Drew and was at best ignorant of his father’s crimes – at worst aided and abbetted them.

For years Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, has stated publicly that she is not allowed to visit with her young niece and nephew because Drew has told Stephen not to allow it.


I watched the show with some interest but came away with more questions than answers about Stephen Peterson and his relationship to his father, and to the Savio and Cales families.

The show’s host, Melissa Moore, daughter of Keith Hunter Jesperson, known in the media as the “Happy Face Killer”, first interviewed Stephen asking, “Do you think your dad killed Kathleen?”

“I’d probably say so…That’s probably the first time I ever said out loud that I think he probably did it.” He replied. He expressed disappointment in his father that he says grew over time. “I don’t think he realizes what he’s done to Stacy’s family, Kathy’s family, our friends the kids – everybody.”


He said he didn’t agree with Stacy adopting Tom and Kris after Kathleen’s death because it erased Kathy from her sons’ birth certificates, but Drew did it anyway. Stephen thought it was done as a ploy to keep Stacy from leaving.

As for agreeing to meet with Sue Doman in a sort of Catfish type of set up, Stephen said he was willing to do it so that she and everyone else would see that he is not his father. “I would love some sort of closure for her or the kids but you know it won’t come from him (Drew).”

At the meeting Sue told Stephen that she hated Drew and had hated Stephen as well, believing him to possibly have been involved in her sister’s death. He told her that he was not and that he had thought Drew was innocent at the time of the murder.


There was discussion about the rift between the two families and the fact that the Savios had been cut out of the lives of Kathleen’s sons. Stephen said he hoped that would change.

This part of the discussion struck me as odd since Thomas and Kris are now adults and living independently. They are free to now see whoever they wish and I know that Sue and Tom have been in contact on Facebook, so this isn’t really an issue that Stephen has any control over.

On the other hand Stacy’s children are still minors and living with Stephen at Drew’s home, yet there was no mention of attempting to reconcile with the Cales family or grant Cassandra the visitation that she has long been asking for.

If Stephen has truly had a change of heart and wants to do right by his father’s victims, why on earth wasn’t this addressed during the show?

I try not to be cynical but I am fearful that Stephen Peterson isn’t sincere about the change to his attitude and beliefs.

I find it interesting that the turnabout has come only after another 40-year sentence has been tacked on to Drew’s prison time, essentially convicting him for life, and after Drew finally lost his pension – the pension that Stephen was receiving to help raise Stacy’s two children.

Somehow, I can’t help but believe that this late game change of heart has come about either at the behest of or with the blessings of Drew Peterson, in hopes that public opinion of Stephen Peterson will be swayed and with it, the return of Drew’s pension.

I do think it’s wrong to punish the child for the crimes of the father but I’ll have an easier time believing in Stephen Peterson when his transformation is complete and publicly includes both the Savio and the Cales families.

New Drew Peterson documentary

For the last month or so CNN has been working on a new documentary about the Drew Peterson trial, his new conspiracy charges and the lives of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson.

For weeks they were doing research here on the blog and I was contacted by a producer named Max Newfield for help with source materials.

Sue Savio, sister of Peterson’s third wife, was interviewed for the special report and went to Facebook with her hope that her interview will help in her fight against domestic violence.


Pastor Neil Schori, who was the confidant of Stacy Peterson, had a positive experience with the production as well, stating that correspondent Jean Casarez was “great” and that she gave him “a chance to talk about how we can help victims” of domestic violence.


Even Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s controversial lawyer,  seemed to have enjoyed his involvement.


But not everyone was thrilled to see the cameras. When Drew’s son, Stephen, spotted them in front of his father’s Bolingbrook house, he referred to the crew from CNN as “F’ing vultures” and bemoaned that “it never ends.”


From the ad on CNN’s site, it looks as if Stacy’s Aunt Candace Aikin was interviewed as was Joe Hosey, author of the book Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson which was adapted for the Lifetime Movie, Drew Peterson:Untouchable.

CNN Special Report, Married to a murderer: The Drew Peterson Story, airs on Tuesday, June 30 at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific time. Check your local listings for channel.

UPDATE JULY 7: Peterson’s trial for the solicitation of murder (of State’s Attorney, James Glasgow) has been rescheduled for November 13. His lawyer wants to hire an expert witness and give them time to research, etc.

06/18/2015 Motion to Continue on file. Petition to Approve Expert Witnes Retention and Funding on file.

07/07/2015 Parties appear; motion hearings continued to 9-1-15, 9am; case set for jury trial selection on 11-13-15, 9am; jury trial set 11-16-15, 9am. Agreed Case Management Order on file. *copies given to all parties.

Sue Savio, sister of Kathleen Savio, to speak about domestic violence at Spring event

Sue Savio awaits the verdict outside the courthouse at the trial of Drew Peterson for the murder of her sister

Sue Savio awaits the verdict outside the courthouse at the trial of Drew Peterson for the murder of her sister

The Zonta Club of Kankakee will conduct its annual luncheon, The Diamond Within…celebrating the Strength of the Human Spirit, on April 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverstone Conference Center of Kankakee.

The special guest speaker will be Sue Savio, sister of Kathleen Savio, who will speak from personal experience about the effect of domestic violence on a family.

The public is invited to attend. Advance reservations and payment required. The cost of the luncheon is $40 per person; $25 for children ages 13 and under, with parental caution regarding the topic of the luncheon.

The Zonta Club of Kankakee will also honor the 2013 Woman of Achievement and the 2013 Young Woman in Public Affairs recipients at the luncheon.

The Zonta Club of Kankakee was chartered in 1956 and is a member of Zonta International, a worldwide service organization of executives in business and professions working together to advance the status of women. Locally, the Zonta Club of Kankakee supports the efforts of Harbor House, Kankakee County-Center Against Sexual Assault (KC-CASA), and Center of Hope nonprofit agencies.

Reservations and payments for the luncheon can be sent to: Zonta Luncheon, 106 Julie Drive, Kankakee, IL 60901. Mailed invitations are not being sent for this event. For program sponsorship and advertising opportunities, contact Amy Carmack at 815-715-7635 for more information.

2012-14 Zonta Service Projects

• Harbor House: An agency whose mission is to provide services to the victims of domestic violence in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties in Illinois.
• KC-Casa: An agency that provides assistance to victims of sexual abuse.
• Center of Hope: An agency that provides car repair grants for women.
• Child Network Grandmother Project: Provides encouragement and support for girls who have been abused or neglected and are now in the court system.
• Kankakee Valley Adult literacy Project: An agency that provides a broad range of tutoring with more accessibility for under-educated adults.

Drew Peterson trial – day eight. Savio’s sister, boyfriend, neighbor plus Drew’s ex-mistress testify

UPDATE 04:12:

State calls Savio neighbor Dominick DeFrancesco to the stand
He says he spoke to Savio on the Sidewalk at 11 am Saturday.
DeFrancesco says he came home at 2am on Sunday Feb 29 2004 and saw Savio’s bedroom light on.
State finishes. Defense begins cross.
In police report DeFrancesco said his mother thought it was odd the light was on – he testified the second day that he found it unusual.
“we [mother and himself] made the remark at the same time. We both thought it was unusual she be up at that time.”
Lopez insinuates that DeFrancesco’s mother actually noted the light rather than himself. Asks is he wouldn’t correct her because he grew up in a traditional Italian family. Objection.
It’s only when they came to you in December of 2007 that you said anything? “Yes.”
They wanted to know if you had a sexual relationship with Ms. Savio, didn’t they? “Yes.”
And they even asked you to take a lie detector test, didn’t they?
Defense done
Patton on brief re-direct: When you went to the police department, you freely cooperated and answered all their questions? “Yes.”
And you offered to provide the police with fingerprints, polygraph, and everything they asked? “Yes.”
You told the police you were reluctant to come forward because you were afraid to contradict the police? “Yes.”
Nothing further from defense, jury dismissed.
Trial resumes Tuesday.

UPDATE 04:00:

State calls Susan McCauley to the stand
On March 20, 2004, did you see the defendant that night? “Yes, at the bowling alley in Bolingbrook”
Did you ever work for the defendant? “Yes, between 1997 and 1990, at Suds Pub in Montgomery.”
McCauley said Peterson said “they’ll be fine – she was crazy” when she asked if the kids were okay [after Savio’s death].
“I still don’t understand – how did she die in a dry bathtub? Drew Peterson said it was a newer tub, in drains in X amount of time”
“He said that she was taking anti-depressants and that she had been drinking, there was a wine glass in the tub.”
“I thought what he said was cold.”
“Well, you must have a lucky horseshoe place somewhere. I could have used another word. Now you don’t have to pay child support, you get the house, you get your pension. He laughed it off, and made a couple jokes.” That ends the direct examination of this witness.
Defense begins cross.
The witness admits that she had “a few beers” on the night in question.
You said, ‘You must have a horseshoe up you ass’? “Yeah.”
You were joking, right? “Yeah.”
You didn’t really think he had a horseshoe there?
State has nothing further.

UPDATE 03:33:

Judge Burmila is back on the stand. He sends for the witness and the jurors.
Prosecutor Connor begins his redirect examination.
Did you have an attorney with you when you signed this? “No.”
Have you ever dealt with the entertainment industry before? “No.” “
Have you made any money off this contract? “No.”
And when you signed this contract in 2009, it was supposed to last for two years? “Yes.”
If there was an advance of any sort, how much of that went to you? “Nothing.”
That ends the redirect examination.
Defense moves for a mistrial on prejudice, again.
judge rejects mistrial request because Sue Doman had testified about Savio saying Peterson threatened her with a knife.
Judge wants to get through two more witnesses today.
Lopez on re cross-examinatino
In this contract, you waived your rights, didn’t you? “Yes.”
So they can write pretty much whatever they want? “Pretty much.”
Lopez gets a warning from Burmila on stepping on the witness’ answers.
This contract is still pending, because the trial isn’t over? “No.”
That ends the testimony of this witness, and she is excused.

UPDATE 02:27:

Attorney Joe Lopez begins cross-examination
Lopez asks Doman to review transcript of what she told the Grand Jury – that Kathleen Savio was taking Zoloft and prescription for a heart murmur.
Isn’t it true that Drew never told your sister that he was going to kill her? “That isn’t true.”
Isn’t it true that at the grand jury you said Drew said he COULD killer? “I believe so.”
You know that on the day your sister was found in the bathtub, she and Drew were divorced? “Yes.”
You also brought a wrongful death suit against Drew Peterson, on behalf of the children? “Yes.”
The sidebar ends. The jurors and the witness have been excused from the courtroom. The judge notes that there’s been no testimony to suggest that Susan Doman has ever been a party to the lawsuit in question. Judge: “Is the suit still pending?” Connor: “It is still pending. But there’s been no indication that she’s a party.” Judge: “If the only issue for Mr. Peterson is that she might be a witness, that does not go to bias. And I’ll rule for the State. Tthe objection is going to be sustained.” The judge sends for the jury.
Lopez hammering Doman over book/movie deal (with Larry Garrison). Doman said contract said she’d make at least $30K
Doman: “This book is about domestic violence.”
Well, you don’t want anything negative coming out about your sister? “I want the truth to come out. Positive and truth are the same to me.”
Well, if Drew were found not guilty, that wouldn’t be a very good movie, would it? “To me, it would. It’s about domestic violence. It’s about my sister’s story.”
The book contract is projected. This was signed in October of 2009? “That’s right.”
The witness is shown a copy of the Oct. 9, 2009 contract for her book deal. It is then moved into evidence.
If there’s a need to fictionalize this story, to make either you or Kathy more colorful, you’ve given them permission to do that? “Yes.”
What does ‘colorful’ mean? “I think to be positive. Whatever the story was, I wanted it to be true.”
But you agreed they could fictionalize the story? You agreed to this? “Yes. I did sign that. But I believe I have the final say on that.”
Lopez ends cross by asking Doman if anything will happen with book/movie deal until after trial. Doman: No
Doman done with cross examination. Kept her composure throughout. Did not get as emotional or as antagonistic on cross as expected.
Cross-examination of Sue Doman is over.
Judge Burmila calls for a ten minute recess.

UPDATE 02:00:

Doman says she saw Drew wiping down blood in the bathtub. He went through the house with a laundry basket.
Did you discover a locked box in your sister’s house that day? “Yes, I found a metal container under my sister’s bed. Drew said if I wanted to open it he could open it. And he pulled out a key out of his pocket, and he opened it. And it was empty.”
Doman asked Peterson what happened to Savio “he didn’t know he had to wait til the coroner office finished the report”
Doman on what Peterson said as he gathered clothing and pictures from Savio’s home “Tell your sister Anna ‘Hahahah – I got the will.”
Defense doesn’t want the jury to hear any of the comments about the will. Greenberg: “But it paints him as a mean-spirited person. None of it should be allowed in; none of it has anything to do with anything. I think all of it’s irrelevant. It wouldn’t do anything other than to paint him in a bad light; it’s inadmissible character evidence. It’s prejudicial . . . and it’s just not fair.” Connor responds, say this is not only appropriate but it’s already been litigated.
Judge: “This statement could be taken more than one way. I understand the defendant’s objection, but I believe that it is probative. The inferences that will be drawn from it will be determined by the jury.”

UPDATE 01:26:

Both sets of attorneys are now inside the courtroom. Judge Burmila returns to the bench. Prosecutor Connor says that the next witness will be Susan Doman. After Doman, we’ll hear from either Susan McCauley or Dominick DeFrancesco. The judge sends for the jurors.
Prosecutor Connor begins direct
Sue Doman says that Kathleen Savio was her sister. Testifies to how long she has known Drew Peterson. Says she has seen him both happy and not happy.
Doman says that her sister would wear her hair up with a comb when getting ready to bathe.
“She had told me that she was in the basement, and her husband Drew had a wife by her throat. And he said that he could kill her, and make it look like an accident. She was terrified.”
Defense objects to hearsay. Attorneys go into sidebar, jury leaves the courtroom
Attorneys are arguing about some testimony coming in. Connor says it was the same issue as with Kristin Anderson so the Judge should rule the same. Transcripts of Anderson’s testimony are dug up. Doman and the jury return.
Doman resumes testifying. The prosecution is trying to bring in the new information about Kathleen telling Drew she was going to take the kids on Monday but there is an objection.
Doman on a phone call with Savio a week before death: “She said for me to take care of her boys.”
Sue Doman said she asked Drew Peterson “Did you kill my sister?” He said he wouldn’t kill the mother of his children. He “kind of choked” when she asked the question. She said he was “very surprised.”

UPDATE 11:36:

Under cross-examination Maniaci says that he and Kathleen had sex from behind on Friday night, with Savio on her knees. They were not on the stairs. He used a condom and knows that it was found in the kitchen waste basket but doesn’t know who put it there. It wasn’t dark in the room (where they had sex). The kitchen light was on.
Lopez to Maniaci: I’m not trying to embarrass you, I’m just trying to get an idea
Maniaci uses a laser pointer to indicate in an exhibit where he and Kathleen had sex.
You did tell police that it’s possible she had some bruises from having sex? “It wouldn’t have been anything other than scuffs on her knees, or something like that. But that was nothing I did not see.”
Going back to being a little hung over on Saturday.
Prosecutor Koch says he has no further questions. The witness is excused.
The jurors are then excused, as the attorneys announce that they need to put some things on the record.
Attorneys and judge discuss upcoming witness testimony. The prosecution wants Sue Savio to be able to say that Kathleen told her that she told Drew she was keeping the kids on Monday. The Prosecutor Patton says that McCauley should be allowed to say that Peterson told her “he would never leave. He would never get a divorce, because he didn’t want Kathleen to get half of his pension. And in another statement, he said that Kathleen would never get his pension. It was the end of 1997, 1998 when he said these things.” Judge bars mention that Susan McCauley and Drew were having an affair. They can say that they were close friends. More discussion about McCauley and her talk with Drew in a bowling alley. McCauley would testify that Drew told her he would never divorce Kathy because he would lose half his pension.
Break for lunch.

UPDATE 10:50:

Short Court Recess.
Attorney Joseph Lopez begins his cross-examination
When they met, both he and Savio were working at a company called Die Masters. He had always liked her.
Maniaci did go to Kathy’s house when Drew Peterson was still living in there – but staying in the basement. Only when he went out of town.
He describes how he introduced a lawyer to Savio, and that lawyer’s partner was Harry Smith who began to represent her.
He goes back over visiting arrangements between the households. Time spent with the kids.
Maniaci answers questions about his last phone conversation with Savio and how she wanted to discuss marriage but he didn’t want to just then. She hung up on him.
He gave it a day and didn’t call her again until Monday.
Maniaci says he and Kathy would take baths together tho it was a tight fit to put two people in the tub.
Questions about Savio wearing contacts but also sometimes glasses, about the gray cat she had, the spot cleaner.
Sometimes there was a rug on the bathroom floor, sometimes not. There were many bottles around the tub – “decorative”.
Lopez asks is Kathy had a “cabinet full of pills” and if she bruised easily.
Maniaci says the hole in the bedroom door was there for about a year.
Lopez asking if Maniaci was drunk after going out with Savio on Friday night, isn’t that why she drove home? Was he not hung over the next day and that’s why they ate at Steak ‘n’ Shake?
Maniaci says “drunk” is a relative term and that he was tired the next morning and he wanted a burger.
Again Maniaci describes playing with his band that day. He talked to Savio but neither wanted to go to the other’s house to get together. She called him later that night and was kind of mad at him.
Lopez: She was kind of a fiery, feisty girl, wasn’t she? “She could be.”
She was half-Italian, wasn’t she? Objection/Sustained.
Maniaci mentions that Monday was Casimir Pulaski Day “Some people call it a holiday.” Judge: “I call it a holiday.” Courtroom laughs
Q & A about what he did on Monday, the fact that although he couldn’t reach Kathleen by phone he didn’t call any of her friends about it. Mary Pontarelli called him while he was out at a bar with friends.
Lopez asks if Maniaci told police that Savio had been having chest pains. “If I did, I did” and if he knew she was taking medication for a heart murmur. “No, I did not know that.”

UPDATE 10:21:

Prosecutor Koch resumes the direct examination.
Maniaci says they went to Steak and Shake for breakfast Saturday morning. He went to his band’s practice for 3 hours Saturday night. He went home at 9:30 pm.
Kathleen called around midnight upset he didn’t come over Saturday night.
Maniaci had breakfast with his father Sunday morning/afternoon.
He went to bed about 10 or 11.
Maniaci said he went to work on Monday, March 1. When he got home he noticed someone broke into his house. Judge tells jury to ignore it.
Maniaci was unable to reach Savio Mon. He called 6 times. Mary Pontarelli called to ask if Savio was with him and said they were going to enter Savio’s house.
When he got home from bar he called Mary immediately and she told him that Kathy was dead. It took him about 25 minutes to get to Savio’s house.
He saw Drew writing a report underneath a street light and he approached him.
“First I said, ‘Drew, I sure hope you didn’t have anything to do with this.’ And he said that he didn’t. There was a little bit of small talk, and I said, ‘Boy, this sure worked out well for you.’” Drew replied. “She would have lost anyway.” He describes Peterson as very calm that night.
Maniaci says he was interviewed in Steve Carcerano’s basement immediately afterwards and not again.
He states that he didn’t have a key to Kathleen’s house. He was given a garage door opener to use once but he gave it back.
He’s shown phone records for 2/28/04 that show a phone call with a 41 second duration placed to his house. He IDs Kathleen’s phone number as having placed the call.
He says the boys were at Drew Peterson’s that weekend.
End of direct examination

UPDATE 09:45:

Maniaci looks at a photo of Savio’s bedroom door and describes that it has a deadbolt on it and a hole drilled above.
Maniaci and Savio went to dinner at the Samba Room with another couple on Fri Feb 27th 2004. They came back home after going to a bar called The Lantern and sat in the living room of Savio’s home. Savio changed into a robe and got some leftover food from the to-go bag.
Maniaci says that they then had sex. At the time her body looked normal and unbruised.
He’s shown photographs of her body. He says he sees bruises that were not there when they had sex.
Judge calls attys to a sidebar. Jury taken out, court takes a brief recess.
The judge is back on the bench. He sends for the witness and the jurors.

UPDATE 09:00:

Some of defense team still en route to courthouse.
Judge Burmila has received two more letters from inmates. They are apparently big fans of the media coverage and are following closely.
Jury is entering court
The Sate calls its first witness of the day: Steve Maniaci
He IDs a photo of Kathleen Savio and says that he met her back in the ’80’s – they worked together.
He met Drew Peterson in the early 90’s at a company reunion.
At the time he started seeing her, Drew was living in the basement. Their marriage was not good. They were getting divorced.
Drew moved out of the house March or April of ’02.
Maniaci on Savio’s sons: “I was introduced to them pretty early, they were around often.” Says they went out to dinner with the boys often.
Looking at photo of Savio’s house: “I had changed the codes for the garage door February or March of ’02”
Question about how the kids would enter Savio’s house.
Maniaci say she would park on the street and enter through the garage or through the front door if he couldn’t access garage. Storm door and front door were always locked.
He’d ring the doorbell and wait for someone to answer.
Maniaci says he saw Kathy for 2 1/2 years. He would sometimes spend the night at Savio’s house. He observed her in the shower and bath. She would usually remove her jewelry to bathe but not always.
Savio would put her hair up when she took a bath. “Usually there was a floor mat in front of the vanity, and I believe in front of the bathtub.”

Drew Peterson’s trial for the murder of Kathleen Savio continues today. Yesterday classmate and friend of Kathleen Savio, Mary parks testified. She riveted the courtroom when she testified that Kathleen Savio showed her marks on her neck and told her that Drew Peterson had choked her and asked her, “Why don’t you just die”? The jury was sent home early while attorneys and Judge hashed out issues related to divorce lawyer, Harry Smith, lock picking and the blue towel shown in evidence photos.

Yesterday Savio’s youngest son, Kristopher, was at the courthouse to sign his name to papers removing himself from the Savio family’s wrongful death suit against Drew Peterson. He was allowed to enter courtroom 403 and talk to his dad for a few moments–the first face-to-face time for the two in three years (Peterson doesn’t want his kids to see him in jail). Kristopher will start college at Western Illinois University in a few weeks.

Possible witnesses for today include Kathleen Savio’s sister, Sue Doman, and Kathleen’s boyfriend at the time of her death, Steve Maniaci; as well as Susan McCauley, who had an affair with Drew at one time, and Teresa Kernc, a Bolingbrook cop. Also possibly taking the stand will be another Savio neighbor, Dominick DeFrancesco.

As always, we’ll have our eyes and ears open and will be posting updates. Check back throughout the day for the latest news and don’t forget to check the comment thread.

We’re following:
Jon Seidel
Adam Grimm
In Session
Glenn Marshall
Diane Pathieu
Kara Oko
Dan Rozek

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