Sunday, September 30, 2012

Peterson Tragedies: Murders, Suicide, Disappearance, Accidents, Mysteries

Kathleen Savio (2004) and Stacy Peterson (2007)
Kathleen Savio, third wife of Drew Peterson

Earlier this month, on September 6, Drew Peterson, a former police officer in Illinois, was convicted of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. Initially Kathleen’s death was declared to be an accidental slip and fall in the shower. However, her body was exhumed and re-examined after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007. After the re-examination of Kathleen’s body, the forensic evidence led to a change in the cause of Kathleen’s death. It was ruled a homicide. Drew Peterson was arrested. 

At Peterson's trial, a new law (dubbed “Drew’s Law”) allowed the introduction of hearsay evidence – specifically the words of the victims. Peterson will appeal this as a violation of his constitutional rights. No one has been charged in the disappearance of Stacy, as no body has ever been found.

Drew Peterson with fourth wife, Stacy, before she went missing n 2007.
Laci and Conner Peterson (2002)

The surname Peterson has become almost synonymous with murder after Drew Peterson’s reign of terror. But even before Drew, there was another monster --  Scott Peterson. Remember him? He was the smug husband of 27-year-old Laci Peterson, who went missing on or about Christmas Eve, 2002. She was 8 months pregnant with their son, whom they planned to name Conner if he had been allowed to be born in February of 2003. Like his mother, his life was cut short by a depraved narcissist.
In January of 2003, stories surfaced of a number of affairs in which Scott had been involved. Finally and tragically, Connor’s body washed ashore on April 14, 2003, from an inlet off the San Francisco Bay. Scott had admitted from the start that he had gone boating on that body of water on the day that Laci disappeared. Part of the torso of Laci’s body washed ashore the next day, a few miles from the home that Laci shared with Scott. Scott was arrested on April 18 at a golf course where he was preparing to play a round with his father and brother. He had cut and dyed his hair blond, and in his possession were items that led police to conclude that he was planning to flee the country.

After a six-month trial and jury deliberations, Scott Peterson was convicted of the murder of Laci and their unborn child in November of 2004. He was sentenced to death and sits on death row in San Quentin.

Kathleen Peterson (2001)

Although Laci Peterson died before Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson, she was not the first female with a husband with the surname Peterson who has died of suspicious causes since the turn of the millennium. A year before Laci went missing, Kathleen Peterson, a telecommunications executive, died in her home in Durham, North Carolina, of a supposed fall down the stairs. It was December 9, 2001, and her husband, a novelist and news columnist, reported to police that he found her body at about 2:40 a.m. Although many of Kathleen’s injuries were caused by the fall down the stairs, there was also blunt force trauma to her head that possibly caused her death. These suspicious injuries led a grand jury to indict Mike Peterson on December 21, 2001.

During the investigation, it came to the attention of authorities that another lady friend of Mike Peterson had died of a stroke 16 years before Kathleen died. Coincidentally, this other lady friend's body was found at the foot of a staircase in the house in Germany where she died in 1985. A neighbor stated that she had seen Mike Peterson hurriedly leaving the dead woman’s home around the time the woman reportedly died. The body had been brought back to the U.S. and was buried in Texas. Authorities exhumed her body and determined that she also had a fractured skull and lacerations to her head, and that she did not die of a stroke.

On October 10, 2003, Mike Peterson was convicted of the murder of Kathleen Peterson. He was subsequently sued civilly by Kathleen’s loved ones. Peterson has appealed his case several times. The latest news I found on the case is that on December 14, 2011, just over 10 years after Kathleen’s death, a judge ordered a new trial in Michael Peterson’s case.

Kathleen, Matthew, Christopher and Albert Peterson (2012)

Now to this week. Twenty miles from where I live, in a suburb near Dulles Airport, another Kathleen Peterson lost her life under unspeakably tragic circumstances. Sometime between last Sunday evening and Monday morning (September 23-24), Albert Peterson (age 57) shot and killed his wife, Kathleen (age52), their son Matthew (age 16), and their  son Christopher (age 13). Then, reports are, Albert took his own life.

Albert and Kathleen Peterson
Christopher Peterson, 8th grade student at Rachel Carson Middle School
Matthew Peterson, Sophomore at Westfield High School
When the children did not show up for school Monday or Tuesday morning, and Kathleen and Albert did not report to work, police were dispatched to their home in Herndon, Virginia. There they found the horrific murder/suicide of the family.

Law enforcement roped off the corner lot while they investigated the crime scene on Tuesday.
One of the first reports of the tragedy that I have seen came out on Tuesday afternoon, September 25, around 3:00. This report has comments from a neighbor who mentions that the father, Albert, often sat on porch, waved to people entering the neighborhood, and even put his snow plow on his truck to help clear the neighborhood when it snowed. Their house is one of the first that you see when you enter the neighborhood from West Ox Road.
The neighborhood is in proximity to Dulles Airport, 20 miles northwest of Washington, DC.

The Peterson home is in a close knit neighborhood off of West Ox Road.

The house stands sentry at the entrance to the development.

 Although police did not officially announce the names of the deceased, the address was known to everyone in the neighborhood, including their Methodist pastor. He issued a message that afternoon to his congregants online and arranged a prayer vigil for the following evening. He issued a second message two days later to comfort the grieving family, friends, co-workers, teachers, and fellow students.

A story by the local CBS station on the afternoon that the bodies were found mentions a neighbor who says the the father was on heart medication and that his personality had recently changed. Oddly, the only story that I have seen that includes pictures of the parents is from a British website. Notably, and this is quite striking, this is one of the only stories that mentions a concerned friend saying that s/he was concerned that Albert Peterson might commit suicide.

In addition, this story states that Albert Peterson feared Obama winning a second term, and he did not want his children stuck with the country if Obama wins again. No other major news sources have dared to reveal this fact. However, one neighbor does say that Albert tried to commit suicide before.

My husband and I drove out to the location of this tragic event today (Saturday, 9/29).

I feel such a sadness for the people who knew the Petersons. I was reminded of being in Ottawa on 9-11-2001, and the need I felt to be with other Americans who were feeling the same despair that I was. I just felt the need to be connected to the grieving people. I cannot explain it. The possibility that this man was so despondent over the path this country is headed down is compelling, heartbreaking. I get close to despair at times also. I hope that, if this IS part of the reason for this tragedy, it is not suppressed. It is scary to think that this happened so close to where I live, in a community similar to my own.

The pickup remains in front of the home, and the champagne colored minivan is in the driveway.
Mourners have left flowers around this tree...
... and around the mailbox.
May the Petersons rest in peace.

We also know from the stories that Albert Peterson was a defense contractor. This week the Obama administration asked defense contractors not to issue pink slips before the November election. This is intended to prevent 100s of employees from getting notices they will lose their jobs on January 1. Employers are required to give 60 days’ notice to anyone whose job is being terminated. With cuts in defense spending from Obama’s policies set to take place January 1, 2013, that places the 60 day notice requirement right at Friday, November 2, which is the Friday before the national election. Again, if this has anything to do with this tragic event, then it needs to be made clear.

In closing, I find it ironic that I came across this "reflection" on a website I have never visited before this evening. 

Dear Ones,

I come today offering my love and protection.  
I offer my protection, because I see much fear among you.  
Do not let fear get a foothold in your life, 
as once you allow it to take hold, 
it becomes where you focus your energy 
and that only increases the fear. 
It is important to realize that the more you fear, 
the more that fear is projected into the world 
and the greater the number of people living in fear, 
the more this energy encompasses the world you live in.

This reflection was written by a woman who calls herself a "certified advisor." Her name is Kathleen Peterson.


No comments:

Post a Comment