11/12/2007 (www.chicagotribune.com) Chicago Tribune

“Search firm's chief heads to South to help find missing teens”

(Tim Miller and Texas EquuSearch Leave Bolingbrook)



Search firm's chief heads to South to help find missing teens

Crews to focus on water before ice sets in

By Alexa Aguilar, Tribune staff reporter

November 12, 2007

The director of a national search firm that has been scouring fields and woods for Stacy Peterson said Sunday he is leaving Illinois to start searches for two missing teens in the South.

Tim Miller, founder and director of Texas EquuSearch, has been organizing daily searches for the mother of two who was last seen by her husband Oct. 28.

Miller said he spent Sunday reviewing last week's findings, including hundreds of aerial images. In the coming days, volunteers will scale back the ground search and concentrate on bodies of water before icy temperatures make those searches impossible, he said.

"I don't think it's going to be long" before searchers uncover something, he said. He added, however, that he felt the same way last Monday.

Miller said he is leaving because of searches for missing teenagers in Alabama and Georgia but would return to Bolingbrook midweek.

"I will be back," he said.

On Friday, Illinois State Police named Drew Peterson, 53, a suspect in the "potential homicide investigation" of Stacy Peterson, 23, his fourth wife. Bolingbrook police suspended Sgt. Drew Peterson without pay the same day.

Drew Peterson said he last heard from his wife the night of Oct. 28, when she called to tell him she was leaving him for someone else. Family members discount that, saying she would never leave her two small children.

Also Friday, Will County State's Atty. James Glasgow announced that the body of Drew Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, would be exhumed and undergo a second autopsy, adding "that there are strong indications that it was a homicide."

Savio, 40, was discovered by a neighbor in her home March 1, 2004, face down in a dry bathtub. Her hair was soaked with blood, and there was a gash on the back of her scalp.

An autopsy determined that she drowned, and a coroner's jury ruled months later that the death was accidental.

Savio had recently divorced Peterson, but the financial settlement was pending.

Drew Peterson has not been charged in connection with either case.

Early Sunday morning, Paul Peterson, Drew Peterson's brother, left the Petersons' house on Pheasant Chase Court in Bolingbrook to pick up doughnuts.

He said his family was thankful for the media coverage of the search for Stacy Peterson, and said, "Keep it on the front page."

On Saturday, however, Drew Peterson told Fox News Channel that "the media has done nothing but harass my family and terrorize my children. ... The damage done by the media I'm going to have to live with long after this is over."

Stacy Peterson's family and friends assembled Sunday at the house next door to the Petersons' to rest and regroup. About 30 volunteers showed up throughout the day willing to search but instead were given fliers to hand out at malls and stores. Volunteers would start searching again Monday morning, said Kerry Simmons, Stacy Peterson's stepsister. Simmons said all signs are "pointing to this not ending well."

She said she crossed the yard to the Petersons' home Saturday night to see their two small children. Though the exchange with Drew Peterson was uncomfortable, he let her in, telling her, "You don't have to be afraid," she said.

She said the children, ages 2 and 4, are fine and seem unaware that anything is amiss.

Simmons said that Miller and his volunteers have taught them how to conduct a search and that volunteers will continue daily searches.

"We'd really like some closure," she said.

Freelance writers Matt Baron and Rhianna Wisniewski contributed to this report.