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Vigil held for former cop’s wife

Sun., Nov. 18, 2007, midnight

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. – Armed with anger, hope and candles, participants in a vigil for a former police officer’s missing fourth wife left a pink placard reading “Where’s our sister Stacy?” – along with several other signs – on the man’s porch Saturday.

Former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson rumbled away on his motorcycle before vigil participants arrived but told reporters afterward that the ordeal has been hard on his children.

The group of about 30 people, led by relatives of Peterson’s third wife – whose death, officially an accidental drowning, has come under renewed scrutiny since Stacy Peterson’s disappearance – stood in front of his home anyway in this middle-class Chicago suburb, clutching candles and demanding answers.

“I miss Stacy, and I’m not giving up,” said the missing woman’s younger sister Cassandra Cales, choking back tears.

Stacy Peterson, a 23-year-old mother of two, has been missing since Oct. 28, and police have named Drew Peterson as a suspect in her disappearance. The vigil came the same day an independent pathologist concluded that the death of Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, was a homicide.

Savio was found dead in 2004 in a bathtub in her home, just a few minutes’ walk from the house Drew Peterson shared with Stacy. Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, said he analyzed Savio’s remains Friday at the request of her relatives. He concluded that she died after a struggle and that her body was placed in the tub.

Officials are re-examining the circumstances of her death. Results of a separate, official autopsy will not be available for several days, authorities said.

Peterson, 53, who resigned Monday, has not been named a suspect in Savio’s death. He has denied any involvement in either case and said he believes his wife left him for another man and is alive.

After the vigil, Drew Peterson – who has two children, ages 2 and 4, with Stacy Peterson and two teenage sons from his marriage to Savio – returned home and briefly looked over each of the signs on his porch.

He told reporters that his wife’s disappearance has been hardest on his oldest children, who have to face questions at school.

“They’re at that age where people like to tease and talk to them,” Peterson said.

Asked what he planned to do for the next few days, Peterson answered, “Live my life.”

Henry Savio, Kathleen’s brother, said at the vigil that when his sister died, Bolingbrook police refused to accept that one of their fellow officers could have been responsible. But Stacy Peterson’s disappearance changed that, he said.

“They said he didn’t have any skeletons in his closet,” he said. “Well, now he does.”

Savio’s body was exhumed Tuesday at the request of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who has said after examining evidence he believes her death was a homicide staged to look like an accident.

The state’s attorney’s office allowed Baden to use the county morgue for his work, and a state’s attorney’s investigator attended the autopsy, spokesman Charles Pelkie said.

The color of bruises on Savio’s body, much of which was preserved because of clothing, indicate “blunt force” injuries shortly before death, Baden said.

“It was consistent with a beating,” he said.

Documents released by Savio’s family indicate she believed, at least briefly, that Drew Peterson would kill her.


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