Story Summary

Drew Peterson Guilty of Murder

Former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson was convicted in 2012 of killing his third wife Kathleen Savio.

Savio was found dead in a dry bath tub in her home in 2004, just before the estranged couple was to begin a bitter divorce court proceeding.

Drew Peterson remains a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy who has been missing since October 2007.

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Drew Peterson soon could find himself fighting to keep his pension, as an investigator hired by the Bolingbrook Police Pension Fund has found there’s enough evidence to begin forfeiture proceedings against the retired sergeant.

Attorney Charles Atwell forwarded his decision after a nine-month review that included examining court transcripts and other records to determine whether Peterson’s murder conviction meant he should be stripped of his pension. In a brief letter sent to village officials the earlier this month, Atwell said state statutes would support holding a hearing to consider terminating the benefit.

Under Illinois law, the board could revoke Peterson’s $79,000-a-year pension if it finds he used his law-enforcement powers or skills to drown his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

“By reason of the aforesaid felony conviction, I believe there exists sufficient evidence, upon which the Board may proceed to conduct a hearing to consider termination of Peterson’s pension benefits,” Atwell wrote in the letter, which the Tribune obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Atwell’s findings mark an ironic turn in the high-profile case, given that prosecutors argued that Peterson killed Savio partially because he did not want to share his pension with her. They also come as welcome news to Savio’s sister, Sue, who believes Peterson has long held himself above the law.

“As a police officer, you’re supposed to serve and protect. He didn’t protect,” Sue Savio said. “He used his law-enforcement skills and knowledge to go out and murder my sister. If you do the crime, you should pay the full price. There shouldn’t be any exceptions.”

Peterson’s pension, however, cannot be stripped without a public hearing at which he could call witnesses and board members would act almost like jurors. He has a right to attend the proceedings, too, which could create a logistical nightmare for village officials.

The hearing cannot be held at Menard Correctional Center – the maximum-security facility where he’s currently being held – because it would violate state laws that require such proceedings to held in an open forum. It’s also unlikely a court would force the Illinois Department of Corrections to transport Peterson to Bolingbrook for a pension board meeting, board attorney Richard Reimer said.

“If the board decides to move forward, there would be a lot of issues that need to be figured out,” Reimer said.

Peterson, 60, retired in November 2007 while under investigation for Savio’s death and the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy. He has not been charged with Stacy’s vanishing, but he remains the only suspect.

A Will County jury convicted him of Savio’s murder in September 2012, after a seven-week trial that made national headlines. He was subsequently sentenced to 38 years in prison.

Bolingbrook’s five-member pension board – which contains three current or former officers who worked with Peterson – still must decide whether it wants to bring proceedings against him. The trustees are slated to meet next in April, but they most likely will hold a special meeting before that time to discuss the Peterson issue, board attorney Richard Reimer said.

Proving a direct connection between Savio’s death and Peterson’s municipal employment won’t be easy, experts have said.

Will County prosecutors were never able to pinpoint an exact time of death in the largely circumstantial case, but the evidence suggested that Savio drowned when Peterson was off-duty. They also could not prove the events leading up to her drowning, which could make it difficult to determine whether he used police training or know-how to commit the murder.

Other pension boards have faced such situations after high-profile convictions, only to find themselves unable to revoke the retirement. For example, disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge — who was fired in 1993 after years of allegations of police torture under his watch — still receives his $3,000-a-month pension check despite a felony conviction for lying about interrogation techniques.

There are instances in which Illinois pension boards have determined that the skills that public servants develop on the job facilitated off-the-clock criminal behavior. In 2011, for example, a state appellate court upheld the city of Chicago’s decision to strip a firefighter of his pension after he was convicted of committing multiple arsons. Although they occurred when he was off-duty, the court found that the firefighter had “specialized knowledge” gained from his department experience and training that helped him ignite the fires.

Though authorities believe Peterson was off-duty when he killed Savio, he was on the clock when he helped neighbors discover her body and when he was questioned by investigators. Prosecutors also suggested that his training as a crime scene evidence technician allowed him to stage the death to make it look like an accident.

None of those things will be enough to take his retirement away, his attorney Steve Greenberg said.

“There is absolutely no basis in law or fact (to strip his pension),” Greenberg said. “This is simply the flavor de jour to pile on Drew. At some point, I hope, they will start applying the same laws that apply to everyone else to Drew Peterson, and make it a fair fight.”

Peterson’s retirement checks currently are being used to care for his two young children, both of whom are still in grade school, his attorneys said. Stephen Peterson, one of the former officer’s sons from his first marriage, has been taking care of his half-siblings since his father’s arrest in May 2009.

Peterson formally appealed his conviction earlier this month, arguing that mistakes by both the judge and his former lead defense attorney denied him a fair trial.

By Stacy St. Clair Tribune reporter

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Drew Peterson has formally appealed his conviction for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Peterson is serving 38-years.

In a letter mailed to a state appeals court Monday, Peterson’s lawyers argue, the trial judge unfairly admitted hearsay evidence from wife Stacy’s pastor and divorce lawyer.

As a consequence, the appeal argues, Peterson didn’t get a fair trial.

The lawyers also say, Peterson was convicted with no physical evidence, and he got bad legal counsel.

Former Bolingbrook Police Sergeant Drew Peterson is expected to formally appeal his conviction next month.

Peterson’s attorneys have submitted several requests to file longer briefs than allowed, but the court has denied those requests so far.

Attorneys argue that the extra length is necessary because Peterson’s murder trial generated too much material to respond to.

Peterson was convicted last year of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

He was sentenced to 38-years in prison in February.

Peterson’s appeal must be filed by January 14.

drew-peterson-carouselDrew Peterson has hired some of his former defense attorneys to handle the appeal of his murder conviction.

The former Bolingbrook police sergeant is in protective custody at the Menard Correctional Center.

In February, he was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.


He has re-hired three of his former lawyers– but not lead defense attorney Joel Brodsky.

The Chicago Tribune reports, Peterson’s appeal will accuse Brodsky of giving ineffective counsel

Drew Peterson’s former lead defense attorney may face discipline for some remarks he made on WGN-TV.

In the wake of Peterson’s murder conviction, attorney Joel Brodsky said it was Peterson himself who demanded that Harry Smith, the divorce lawyer for his estranged wife Kathleen Savio be ordered to testify at his trial.

Smith’s testimony ended up convincing jurors to convict Peterson.

Will County Judge Edward Burmila says he was shocked that Brodsky would publicly discuss his trial strategy, and he’ll ask the state’s lawyer disciplinary commission to punish Brodsky.

Brodsky insists he had every right to publicly defend what he did.

Convicted murderer Drew Peterson has moved to another prison.

Peterson is now at Menard correctional center in downstate Randolph County.

He just started serving a 38-year sentence for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

Peterson has already spent time at Statesville and Pontiac prisons.

The Department of Corrections gave no reason for his transfer.

Menard prison is known to be one of the toughest prisons in the state.

It’s currently on lock-down because of a recent assault on staff members.

Convicted murderer Drew Peterson woke up Saturday in his new home for the next 38 years.

It’s the Pontiac Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison that has a protective custody unit.

After Thursday’s sentencing for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, Peterson started out at the Stateville prison Friday morning in suburban Crest Hill, but was quietly transferred to Pontiac.

He was processed there and prison officials released his new mug shot, shown here.

Peterson is 59 years old, and pending a successful appeal by his attorneys, he won’t be eligible for parole until 2047.

Convicted murderer Drew Peterson’s newest home is the Stateville Correction Facility, where he was transferred Friday morning.

Peterson, 59, was sentenced to 38 years in prison Thursday for the murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio.

drew-peterson-carouselUntil now, Peterson has been behind bars in solitary confinement at the Will County Jail.

He shouted in court Monday that he did not kill Savio.

Savio’s sister susan doman told WGN News Friday morning his speech was “vintage Drew.”

Barring a successful appeal which his new team of defense attorneys plan Peterson will remain behind bars until he’s in his nineties.

“You know, I guess I feel vindicated,” Brodsky said with a shrug Thursday outside the courtroom where Drew Peterson was sentenced for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. “The judge said there was a strategy.”

After years of investigating and prosecuting, the area’s most notorious former cop is headed to prison.

Drew Peterson was sentenced today to 38-years behind bars for killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Peterson was emotional as he spoke at today’s sentencing, at one point screaming out “I did not kill Kathleen!”

Peterson went on to say, “Until this happened, I thought I was a great guy,” he said. “And in moments, the media turned me into a monster. As soon as I get a chance, I’m going to get a tattoo on my back, from shoulder to shoulder, that says, ‘No good deed goes unpunished. “
Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, his fourth wife.

He has not been charged in that case.