Illinois prison officials fight to keep Drew Peterson’s location secret

CHICAGO — Where in the USA is cop-turned-convicted killer Drew Peterson? He was transferred out of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on Dec. 6 on orders from the Illinois Department of Corrections. An IDOC spokesperson only said Peterson is “in a state facility not located in Illinois.” Peterson’s attorney Steve Greenberg tells WGN he has not heard from his client and has no idea where he’s being imprisoned.

Now, IDOC has denied an open records request from WGN Investigates seeking information about Peterson’s location. The denial states the release of the records “may endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel or any other person.” Illinois and other states have publicly searchable databases of inmate locations so family, friends and other members of the public can correspond with, visit or generally be aware of the location of an offender while in custody. WGN is appealing that denial to the Illinois Attorney General’s public access counselor arguing the agency shouldn’t be allowed to simply make inmates “disappear” from the public record.

While WGN did not request Peterson’s medical records, the IDOC denial stated “a portion of the records regard[ing] Mr. Peterson’s medical condition are denied.” It’s unknown of a health issue led to Peterson’s transfer.

Peterson was involved in an altercation with another inmate shortly after he arrived at the federal prison in Terre Haute in 2017. However, he told WGN Investigates in April 2019 that his life was fairly good behind bars. “I’ve only been attacked in here once,” Peterson said in a phone interview in April. “I didn’t even fight back… the guy hit like a girl.”

IDOC said Peterson’s police background is also a factor in keeping his location a secret: “Due to the nature of the holding offense and the offender’s identity as a former law enforcement officer IDOC is keep this offender’s location confidential for his own safety.”

IDOC officials have also removed former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke from its “inmate search” database.  Van Dyke was attacked shortly after being transferred to a prison in Connecticut. It’s fairly uncommon, but not unheard of, for inmates in the custody of one state to be transferred to a prison in another state.

During the April interview, Peterson said he has received death threats, not because he was convicted of killing his third wife or suspected of killing his fourth, but of his police past.

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