Last week, In Session senior producer Grace Wong and I were driving through the Bolingbrook, Illinois, neighborhood where Drew Peterson once lived with his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. The two homes are about a mile apart.
It was a scorcher of a day; we had arrived in Illinois a few hours earlier and headed directly to Bolingbrook from the airport.
Drew Peterson’s house is on a quiet cul-de-sac. His son, Stephen, 33, now lives in the home his father once shared with Stacy and their two children, Anthony, who's now nine, and Lacy, seven, as well as his father’s two sons from his marriage to Savio, Thomas, 19, and Kris, 17. Stephen, a divorced father, is raising his half brothers and sister, and his own daughter, who is three.
Stephen and the children moved into Peterson’s house after Peterson’s May 2009 arrest and indictment for the murder of Savio. According to Stephen, the neighbors were considerate and took down memorials and signs from their front lawns that honored Anthony and Lacy's missing mother. There have been no dust-ups with the neighbors; it’s apparently been congenial and quiet for the past few years -- a contrast to the weeks and months after Stacy went missing in October 2007. Thomas is now enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania and Kris is heading to college in the fall.
We knocked on the door, initially to notify Stephen that we were going to take some photos of the exterior of the home. We were a bit surprised when he stepped outside, leaving the children in the house, to talk to us on the front porch.
Stephen was amiable, chatty, and seemed to be a doting father. He has avoided the media for the past five years. In fact, he said our chat on that sweltering afternoon was the most he had spoken to anyone in the media since 2007.
Stephen kept an eye out for his brother Eric, who was expected home soon; they were taking the kids swimming that afternoon. Eric has been estranged from their father for years, but apparently that has not affected the brothers’ relationship with each other. Stephen said he and Eric get along just fine.
According to Stephen, the younger children now know their father is in jail, in part because of comments from classmates in school. Anthony and Lacy don’t visit their father in jail, though they speak to him regularly by phone. Jailhouse visits would be via video link anyway.
Lacy, who peered through the window once while we chatted outside, is a miniature version of her mother, Stacy. She is pretty with long dark blonde hair, and seems to be full of energy. Lacy was recently placed in the gifted student program at her school. When I asked if Anthony and Lacy ask about their mother, Stephen was evasive.
Stephen has been out of work for a few years, suspended, then fired, from the nearby Oak Brook Police Department. He has challenged his termination for obstructing an investigation when he allegedly hid his father’s guns and money in the days after Stacy’s disappearance. Stephen hopes to learn in early August if he will get his job back. That date will fall in the middle of his father’s murder trial. Since his termination in February, 2011, Stephen has supported himself and the children with his father’s police pension.
It was eerie to look at the cars in the driveway. Stacy’s Pontiac Gran Prix is still there, parked in front of Drew Peterson’s GMC Denali. The Denali is the vehicle some believe he used on October 28, 2007, to allegedly dispose of Stacy’s body. Right after Stacy disappeared, Peterson consented to a search of Stacy’s car, but would not let police search the Denali. Police eventually seized the vehicle and examined it for evidence.
Stephen was reluctant to talk about the murder charges against his father. He referred to life before and after the arrest as “before all this happened” or “after all this happened.” It was impossible to tell whether he thinks his father will be home soon, or will spend the rest of his life in prison.
While Stephen has been described as deceptive because he allegedly obstructed the investigation into Stacy’s disappearance, he did not appear so last week as he chatted amicably in triple digit temperatures.