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The Police Officer's Wives: Kathleen Savio & Stacy Peterson

On October 28th, 2007, Cassandra Cales was trying to reach her sister, twenty-three-year-old Stacy Peterson. They had plans together that day, but Stacy was not answering her phone. She went to Stacy’s home to find both Stacy and her husband Drew’s cars gone. Stacy’s stepson told Cassandra that his father and Stacy had a fight and Stacy left. The little boy said Drew was out looking for Stacy. Cassandra contacted Drew, who seemed out of breath, and he informed Cassandra that Stacy had run off with another man. By the next morning, Cassandra went to the police.


Stacy Peterson (left) was born Stacy Ann Cales on January 20th, 1984, to Christie and Anthony Cales of Downer’s Grove. She has an older brother, Yelton, and older sister Jessica. Jessica died in a house fire before Stacy was born. After Stacy was born, the family welcomed Cassandra and then another baby named Lacy. Lacy passed away as an infant as a result of sudden infant death syndrome. Christie Cales also had another daughter, Christie Toutges, born before her marriage to Anthony Cales.

While the Cales children were still very young, depression and alcoholism took control over Christie Cales life. According to Joseph Hosey’s book “Fatal Vows”, Anthony and Christie Cales both abused alcohol and neglected their children. Christie had several arrests in the late 1980’s and 1990’s for DUI, shoplifting, child neglect, and domestic violence (ACandyRose). In 1990, Anthony filed for divorce. When Christie failed to show up to court, Anthony Cales was given custody of his children and Christie Toutges, known as Tina, was put into foster care. Christie would disappear on and off throughout her children's lives, failing to provide any consistency. She eventually went missing in 1998 and has not been seen or heard from since. To this day, her children are not sure if she is alive or dead.

The instability in the family surely contributed to the dysfunction that followed. Yelton Cales was sent to prison in 2005 for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor. Tina, after being released from foster care at age 18, married but tragically passed away in 2006 at age thirty of cancer. Stacy Cales' life took a different turn when she was just sixteen years old and met Bolingbrook Police Officer Drew Peterson.

Drew Peterson was born January 5th, 1954. He graduated from Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, Illinois. After high school, Drew joined the United States Army. He eventually moved to Virginia and began working as a military police offer. He married his high school sweetheart Carol Brown in 1974. He moved back to the Chicago area and began working for the Bolingbrook Police Department in 1977. He was part of a narcotics unit and won “Police Officer of the Year” in 1979. Carol and Drew welcomed two sons during their marriage, Stephen and Eric. However, Drew demonstrated a pattern of infidelity leading to a divorce in 1980.

After his divorce from Carol, Drew married Victoria “Vicki” Connolly in 1982. The two opened a bar together. Carol’s daughter lived with the couple. True to form, however, Drew Peterson was repeatedly unfaithful to Vicki, ultimately leading to their divorce in 1992. At the time they divorced, Drew was having an affair with Kathleen Savio. Years after the divorce, Vicki and her daughter alleged that Drew had been violent and controlling during the marriage.

Drew married Kathleen Savio (right) in 1992, just months after his divorce from Vicki. Kathleen was born June 13th, 1963. Drew and Kathleen welcomed two sons: Thomas, born in 1993, and Kristopher, born in 1994. By 2001, however, Drew was once again being unfaithful. In fact, he was sneaking his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Stacy Cales, into his basement for sex. When Kathleen learned about the affair in 2002, she kicked Drew out and filed for divorce.

Drew purchased a house down the street from Kathleen and started living with his young girlfriend, Stacy. Between 2002-2004, several domestic disturbance calls were made to the street that both Kathleen and Drew and Stacy lived on. Kathleen and Drew accused each other of physical abuse and failure to exchange their sons at the agreed upon times. This divorce was tumultuous to say the least. In 2003, Kathleen and Drew agreed to a bifurcated divorce. This meant they were legally divorced, but hearings would still need to happen to divide the marital assets. Drew fought for this so he could marry Stacy, who was now nineteen and pregnant.

Drew and Stacy married October 18th, 2003, the same month that his divorce was granted from Kathleen. They welcomed a son Anthony in 2003. The legal battles and domestic battles between Drew and Kathleen continued however, with reports accusing each other of violence and harassment. Kathleen allegedly threatened Stacy and called her derogatory names when she came with Drew to pick up the boys. The financial settlement in the divorce was still pending in 2004 as Kathleen sought to keep the house she lived in and once shared with Drew as well as half of his pension and assets, which were sizeable.


On March 1st, 2004, Drew went to Kathleen’s house after she failed to answer his phone calls. He had their sons and was due to return them to their mother. When he couldn’t reach her, he asked a neighbor to go into the house and check on Kathleen while he waited outside. He said he didn’t want to go inside because Kathleen would not appreciate him coming into her home. He did come in, however, when the neighbor let out a scream. In the upstairs bathroom, Kathleen Savio was found dead.

The investigation into Kathleen’s death was short and not very thorough. The crime scene investigator believed that woman had accidently drowned in the bathtub, despite the bathtub being dry. Drew and Stacy were questioned, and Stacy claimed Drew had been at home with her and the kids all night. Officers at the scene knew Drew and did not suspect him of any wrongdoing. A coroner’s inquest jury was formed and the facts around the death reviewed and ruled an accidental death. Kathleen’s family was convinced, however, that Drew had murdered her. Even more shocking, a handwritten will was presented that granted Drew’s uncle full control over Kathleen’s estate.

Stacy and Drew welcomed another child, a daughter, in 2005. They named the baby girl Lacy after Stacy’s late sister. Following the birth of her second child, Stacy underwent a tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and orthodontic care including braces. According to some who knew her, she did these things at Drew’s insistence. However, Drew claimed that Stacy wanted these procedures, and he spoiled his wife. Then in 2006, Stacy’s sister Tina passed away from cancer. Stacy took it hard, and her marriage began to suffer.

Everyone who knows Stacy says she was a dedicated mother who lived for her children, her two biological and the two she adopted after Kathleen died. In the months before she disappeared, friends claimed she expressed discontent in her marriage. In fact, she had told her neighbor and sister that she wanted to get divorced. She said Drew became possessive, controlling, and abusive. When Stacy went to have lunch with a male friend, Drew showed up and interrogated the man wearing his police uniform. He used his authority as a police officer to control his wife. Stacy was so unhappy in her marriage that she had been texting flirty messages to another guy she had gone to high school with. However, her friends and family said she never would have left her children with Drew.

On October 29th, 2007, Stacy Peterson was reported by her sister as a missing person. Drew claimed that Stacy had run off with another man and he found her car at a local airport. He said he returned the car to the house and was upset about her leaving but did not believe she was in danger. He referenced her mother’s disappearance and suggested that Stacy had run off and abandoned her children just as her mom had. The nonchalance he displayed angered her family and friends who were convinced he had done something to Stacy.

The police conducted a massive search, but there was no sign of Stacy. They traced her last phone ping to an area nearby the man Stacy had been texting. The man admitted to exchanging flirty text messages with Stacy but denied any physical relationship. He also had an alibi for the time Stacy disappeared. When the media learned that Drew Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, had died a few years earlier under suspicious circumstances, the story went national and global. Everyone was looking for Stacy Peterson.

Drew Peterson became a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson rather quickly. One reason was due to his uncaring attitude about her being missing. He told the Today Show “I’m not trying to be funny here, but Stacy would ask me for a divorce on a regular basis, and it was based on her menstrual cycle” (Biography, 2017). He spoke often to the press, frequently demonstrating his arrogance and narcissistic personality. He was a very unlikeable figure. In January of 2008, he was regularly speaking on a local radio show and a contest called “Win a Date with Drew” was announced. After much backlash, the contest was cancelled.

Drew resigned from the police department November 12th, 2007, after twenty-seven years of service. He began to collect a large pension while he raised his four young children. His two eldest children were now adults. The media circus around Stacy’s disappearance reignited the investigation into Kathleen Savio’s death. States Attorney James Glascow reopened the case and an exhumation and second autopsy were ordered. The second autopsy found blunt force trauma injuries to Kathleen’s body and determined her cause of death to be homicide.

In May of 2008, Drew turned himself in on a weapons charge unrelated to the disappearance or homicide case. He was released on bail and eventually the gun charges were dropped. He remained in the media spotlight, demonstrating his lack of concern regarding his wife and saying, “Why would I look for someone I don’t believe is missing?” (Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery, 2017). By December of 2008, Drew announced his engagement to a twenty-three-year-old woman. However, this woman left Drew a few months later.

A murder indictment was issued charging Drew Peterson with the murder of Kathleen Savio on May 7th, 2009. The primary evidence against Drew was a history of domestic disturbances between Drew and Kathleen Savio, the second autopsy, and the motive: Drew benefited financially from Kathleen’s death just a month before their finances were to be divided. There was no physical evidence that could tie Drew to the murder, but there was some bombshell evidence about to come out.

First, Drew’s stepbrother came forward with a shocking story. He said on the night before Stacy went missing, Drew took him to lunch and told him that Stacy wanted a divorce and he had a problem he needed to take care of. He gave his stepbrother his phone and told him not to answer it. Drew then allegedly left, and the phone rang a few minutes later with the caller ID saying it was Stacy. His brother, an alcoholic with a criminal history, did as his police officer brother told him and did not answer the phone. This call was the last one made from Stacy’s phone. Soon after Drew returned.

Drew’s brother said that later that night, Drew called him and said he needed help moving something. He said that he went upstairs to Drew and Stacy’s bedroom and there was a big blue barrel. He said that he and Drew carried the barrel, which was warm, to Drew’s vehicle. He said Drew left and he didn’t know what happened after that. He started drinking and doing drugs when he realized he may have helped dispose of Stacy’s body. He was hospitalized for a suicide attempt two days after Stacy disappeared. Drew said his brother was a drug-addicted liar and denied the claims.

Then, another person came forward. Stacy’s pastor came forward and told authorities that Stacy met with him a few weeks before she disappeared and told him that she had lied to police in 2004. He said that Stacy told him that Drew left that night and came back to the house later with bloody clothes that he immediately washed. According to the pastor, Stacy believed Drew killed Kathleen Savio and that she had helped him get away with it.

Authorities were not able to use the statements Stacy made to the pastor at the time because it violated Drew’s rights since Stacy was unable to testify. However, a new Illinois law was introduced specifically related to this case that now allows hearsay evidence to be entered under certain circumstances. This allowed the pastor to testify as well as family members of Kathleen who claimed she feared her husband and thought he would kill her. Another witness testified that Drew Peterson offered him $25,000 to kill Savio, but he declined the offer. Kathleen Savio's divorce attorney testified that Stacy Peterson called him shortly before she disappeared and asked if she could get more money if she told authorities how Drew killed Kathleen.

On September 6th, 2012, Drew Peterson (right) was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Kathleen Savio. Peterson was sentenced to thirty-eight years in prison. Authorities believe that he murdered Stacy Peterson but are reluctant to charge him without a body. However, Drew found himself in more trouble by 2015. While serving time at Menard Correctional Center, Drew tried to arrange a murder for hire plot to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. During this trial, tape recordings obtained via an inmate wearing a wire were played and proved Drew was trying to have the prosecutor killed. He was found guilty and sentenced to forty years in prison for this crime in addition to his current sentence.

Stacy Peterson remains missing to this day. In fall of 2021, Cassandra Cales and the FBI searched a canal near Lockport, Illinois. However, no trace of Stacy Peterson was found. “I’ve basically devoted my life to searching” Cassandra Cales said, “I’m not going to stop” (Wallace, 2021). Drew Peterson has filed multiple appeals and is expected to return to court in February of 2022 for an appeal hearing regarding his murder conviction in the Kathleen Savio case (Associated Press, 2022). Drew’s younger children from his marriages with Kathleen and Stacy are being raised by his son Stephen.

In November of 2021, Drew Peterson spoke to Dateline, for his first media appearance in years. He continued to maintain his innocence and claimed to be a loving husband. When asked how he feels about his four younger children growing up without their mothers, Drew said that his son Stephen was raising the kids and they were thriving so “maybe having a mother isn't all it's cracked up to be” (Dateline, 2021).


References

Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery (2017) Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery; Watched on Investigation Discovery

Fox News (2009) Stepbrother says he thinks he helped Drew Peterson dispose of wife’s body; Fox News; Retrieved at: Stepbrother Says He Thinks He Helped Drew Peterson Dispose of Wife's Body | Fox News

People V. Peterson (2011) The people of the state of Illinois V. Drew Peterson; Retrieved at: PEOPLE v. PETERSON | FindLaw

The Charley Project (unknown) Stacy Ann Peterson; Retrieved at: Stacy Ann Peterson – The Charley Project

ACandyRose (unknown) Did Christie Cales really walk out on her children or was she murdered?; Retrieved at: stacy_peterson_christie.htm (acandyrose.com)

Wikipedia (unknown) Drew Peterson; Retrieved at: Drew Peterson - Wikipedia

Associated Press (2022) Drew Peterson’s hearing on murder conviction appeal delayed; ABC News; Retrieved at: Drew Peterson's hearing on murder conviction appeal delayed - ABC News

Biography (2017) Drew Peterson; Retrieved at: Drew Peterson - Movie, Stacy Peterson & Sons - Biography

Dateline (2021) Infamous; S. 30 E. 9; Watched on Peacock

Wallace, D. (2021) FBI search for Drew Peterson’s missing 4th wife turns up empty, sister continues to hunt with sonar; Retrieved at: FBI search for Drew Peterson's missing 4th wife turns up empty, sister continues hunt with sonar | Fox News

Babwin, D. & Tarm, M. (2012) Drew Peterson murder trial under way; Southern Illinoisan; 01 Aug 2012; Retrieved at: 01 Aug 2012, Page 16 - Southern Illinoisan at Newspapers.com

Hosey, J. (2008) Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson; Joseph Hosey & Phoenix Books, Inc. ISBN-10: 1-59777-606-8

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