11/14/2007 (www.nbc5.com) NBC Today Show

“Matt Lauer Interviews Drew Peterson”



Below is a transcript of Drew Peterson's appearance on NBC's "Today" on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007.

Drew Peterson segment #1 (7:16)

MATT LAUER, co-host:And former Sergeant Drew Peterson is here for an exclusive interview this morning. Mr. Peterson, good morning, nice to have you here.

Mr. DREW PETERSON (Suspect in Fourth Wife's Disappearance): Good morning.

LAUER: I was watching your face as you were watching that report. And the image of your third wife's casket being taken out of the ground by that crane. And now that you know that the body has been exhumed and forensic experts are going over it, what's your response to this development?

Mr. PETERSON: It's a shame that the--her rest-in-peace has to be disturbed for something like this when they did it once, now they're doing it again.

LAUER: Do you think there are no mysterious circumstances surrounding her death? You don't understand why the police are doing this?

Mr. PETERSON: I understand exactly why. But I really have no opinion on...

LAUER: You think it's a wasted effort, they're not going to find anything?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't know. If there was anything that happened to her, you know, it should be found out.

LAUER: You flew here from Chicago last night accompanied by one of our producers who told me that there's quite a scene outside your home right now.

Mr. PETERSON: Correct.

LAUER: There's an enormous media presence there.

Mr. PETERSON: For the last two weeks.

LAUER: Right. Give me an example, or just tell me a little bit about what your life has been like for you and for your two young children. You've got a two-year-old and four-year-old, Lacy and Anthony.

Mr. PETERSON: Right. And I have two teenage boys, also, 13 and 14. I think this is weighing a little harder on them than the two young ones. The two young ones we can play with and they pretty much accept their circumstances. But the older boys, it's harder on them. We basically have to sneak them in and out of the house in the morning to go to school and--or out to see friends or just engage in their normal school activities. So it's been very hard on them.

LAUER: You say you can play with the two younger ones, the two-year-old and the four-year-old, but what have you told them about their mom's disappearance? What do they know? How do you explain why mom isn't home?

Mr. PETERSON: Basically, mom's gone on a vacation. And every time anything comes on the television, we go ahead and just kind of shuffle them out of the room or we go to another room to watch the story.

LAUER: When Stacy went missing on October 28th, police questioned you, they came to your house, there was a search warrant. They've come twice, by the way. You were initially labelled by police as a person of interest and you're a police officer, or were a police officer. You know all about these labels. You know what this means.


LAUER: Since that time, though, with further investigation, they've decided that you are in fact a suspect in this case. Why do you think, in your opinion, they've changed their characterization of you?

Mr. PETERSON: I think they've always considered me a suspect. You know, the husband always did it. And I think it's just a title to basically progress our case or try to progress their case.

LAUER: So you think the only reason you're considered a suspect right now is because the husband is always considered a suspect?

Mr. PETERSON: Pretty much. And I believe I was a suspect from the beginning when they first started talking to me.

LAUER: Let me go over a couple of things that have raised some eyebrows. Stacy went missing, as I said, on October 28th. According to reports, she had asked you for a divorce just two days earlier. Stacy wrote an e-mail to a friend on October 17th--so we're talking about a little more than a week prior to her disappearance this is wh it said. Quote, "as I mature with age, I'm finding that the relationship I'm in is controlling, manipulative and somewhat abusive. If you could keep me in your prayers, I could use some wisdom, protection and strength." What do you think she meant by that?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't think that's her words. That doesn't sound like a thing that she would say. And that vocabulary is certainly out of line for her. So I think this was fabricated, as a lot of things have been throughout this case, and this is a made-up e-mail.

LAUER: Stacy's stepsister, Kerry Simmons...


LAUER: ...was on this program, and let me play you a portion of what she said to Meredith earlier.



(Beginning clip from Meredith's interview with Kerry Simmons)

Ms. KERRY SIMMONS: It was the end of pretty much every conversation that we had when we were together or spoke on the phone with both of us that, you know, if one day she never answered her phone or if we couldn't get a hold of her, that, you know, we would need to look for her, that something happened.

(End of clip)

LAUER: That we would need to look for her, that something happened. Why do you think Stacy was concerned that something was going to happen to her and that they would need to look for her?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't know. I don't know.

LAUER: Well, then describe the relationship. What was your relationship like with Stacy?

Mr. PETERSON: Our entire relationship was--in the beginning it was very romantic. And after her sister passed away with cancer, she took a serious downslide of her emotions. She lost her faith. She was very religious before this time. And ever since her sister died, we actually had her go to a psychiatrist. And she was on medication, mood medication. And every day with her thereafter, after her sister passed away, was basically an emotional roller coaster. Every day...

LAUER: Emotional for Stacy or emotional between the two of you? Would you describe your relationship as volatile, was it ever violent?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't believe it was ever violent.

LAUER: You'd either know it was violent or not violent.

Mr. PETERSON: There was--there was a few instances where like Stacy and I would have like verbal confrontations and I would be in her face and she hated being cornered and one time she hit me in the head with a frozen steak. And, OK, I walked...

LAUER: Did you ever hit her?

Mr. PETERSON: Never.

LAUER: Never raised a hand to her?

Mr. PETERSON: Never raised a hand to her. There was an incident where we tried throwing her in a swimming pool at a party, but that was in jest and she came up swinging and she was very angry at that happening, but we were playing.

LAUER: You have said on occasions that Stacy came to you and said she was seeing someone else, that there was another man. Is it fair to say that you believe that Stacy right now is with that other man?

Mr. PETERSON: She never told me she was seeing another man. She--well, maybe she did. But I believe she's with somebody else right now.

LAUER: Let me just go back to, did she or did she not say to you, `I'm seeing someone else, Drew?'

Mr. PETERSON: It wasn't put like that. She found somebody else. That was her exact words.

LAUER: And you believe that she is now not dead, that she is actually run off with another man?

Mr. PETERSON: I believe that, yes.

LAUER: You've described her as, although she had emotional issues, as you've said, she was a good mom.

Mr. PETERSON: Great mom.

LAUER: All right. And so how does a good mom of a two-year-old and a four-year-old go off with another man and never call the kids to see how they're doing or to tell the kids that she's OK?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't know. I can't answer that.

LAUER: No explanation for that?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't have an explanation for that.

LAUER: Are you cooperating with the police? There have been conflicting reports. The police, from what I understand say you're not offering much assistance and you've said that you are cooperating. What's the truth?

Mr. PETERSON: I sat down the first night they interviewed me the day after she was missing. That evening they were over at my house. And I gave them a full account of the story, of what took place. And thereafter, I hired some attorneys and the attorneys said don't talk no more.

LAUER: No more. Have you participated--we've seen images of people out in the area where you live searching for Stacy.

Mr. PETERSON: Right.

LAUER: Have you ever taken part in the search for Stacy?

Mr. PETERSON: Well, there's two things. One thing, it's like I'm such a media sensation right now, if I go out and search, I think the search would be hampered by, number one, all the media attention I'd be getting. And, two, why would I look for somebody who I don't believe is missing? She's just gone. She's where she wants to be.

LAUER: Another reason there's so much attention being paid to you, Mr. Peterson, is because of the circumstances surrounding the death of your third wife, Kathy Savio. She drowned in her bathtub, according to the report at the time, an accidental drowning back in 2004. However, at the time there was no water in the bathtub. Her hair was matted with blood and apparently there was a one-inch gash on the back of her head. Now state officials are saying that it looks like an accident staged to cover a murder. What was your impression at the time she died? Did you think it was an accident?

Mr. PETERSON: I was one of the first people there. And I was actually the watch commander of our town at the time that it happened. And I went ahead and met with her best friend because I haven't seen her for a couple of days, which was very unlike her, to not be seen or heard from. So I was planning the next day to go into her home, you know, with her neighbor, and see if she was OK, but her neighbor was upset and her best friend was upset, same person. And she wanted to go in that night. So we called the locksmith, went into the house. I didn't go in the house. I waited outside. Her friend...

LAUER: Why didn't you go in the house?

Mr. PETERSON: Kathy was always accusing me of things like she didn't want me in the house ever because she was afraid I was going to steal something.

LAUER: But you're the police officer...

Mr. PETERSON: Right.

LAUER: ...the watch commander.

Mr. PETERSON: Right, exactly.

LAUER: And it's your job to investigate crimes if they've committed.

Mr. PETERSON: That was Kathy. That was Kathy.

LAUER: You just wouldn't go in the house.

Mr. PETERSON: So when I heard screaming, I went inside and there she was in the bathtub.

LAUER: What did you see? And did it look like an accidental drowning to you at that time?

Mr. PETERSON: I felt the p--I didn't know if she was dead or live, so I felt her pulse and, you know, being a policeman, I basically didn't want to touch anything or disturb anything.

LAUER: True or false: you ended up with a million payout from a life insurance policy you had on her.

Mr. PETERSON: My children did. And that money is in a protected account for them when they turn older.

LAUER: And what was your relationship with Kathy like? Tell me about her. What kind of a woman was she?

Mr. PETERSON: She came from an abusive home life growing up. She had abusive stepparents. At first it was very romantic and, again, after she had children, hormones kicked in and, again, an emotional roller coaster with her. But our relationship was always a one-upmanship relationship. We were always trying to basically outdo each other with different things. Who was smarter, who was stronger, that type of thing.

LAUER: So you describe both of these women, Kathy and Stacy, as having emotional problems?

Mr. PETERSON: Yes, both of them.

LAUER: Both troubled?

Mr. PETERSON: Both came from troubled homes.

LAUER: Both dealing with depression at some point or another?


LAUER: So what drew you to these women?

Mr. PETERSON: Both women were very beautiful, very exciting when I first met them. Kathy was a lot of fun when I first met her. She was good to my kids. Kids from a prior marriage. We went to fun places. We went out to dinner.

We saw shows and we did a lot of fun things together and she was a lot of fun. Very beautiful woman.

LAUER: I have more I want to ask you in our next half-hour, but let me just end this half-hour and ask you to just--you know, you're a police officer. You've probably said this to other people that you've investigated over the years. Can you look me straight in the eye and tell me that you had nothing to do with the death of your third wife Kathy or the disappearance of your fourth wife Stacy?

Mr. PETERSON: I can look right in your eye and say I had nothing to do with either of those incidences.

LAUER: You seem extraordinarily calm and collected. And I guess if I were under the pressure and the scrutiny you're under right now, possible indictment as early as today or tomorrow...


LAUER: ...I think I'd be a little more, I don't know, rattled.

Mr. PETERSON: Basically, I'm not afraid of law enforcement. I'm afraid of the media. And I've been hounded by the media and the media's what's causing my aggravation or me being upset with life and living today.

LAUER: Drew Peterson, we're going to talk to you more in our next half-hour.

I appreciate your being here this morning.


LAUER: But first, this is TODAY on NBC.


Drew Peter Segment #2 (7:32)

MATT LAUER, co-host: But let's start with Drew Peterson, the long-time Illinois police sergeant under investigation today. Did he have anything to do with the fate of his third and fourth wife? We'll talk to him again in a moment in an exclusive interview. But first, here's NBC's Kevin Tibbles.

KEVIN TIBBLES reporting: It's been more than two weeks since 23-year-old Stacy Peterson went missing. Stacy is the fourth wife of Bolingbrook, Illinois, Police Sergeant Drew Peterson. Her family says the couple met when she was just 17 and he was 47. Now married four years, they have two young children. Their relationship began while Peterson was still married to his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was later found dead in her bathtub. Three years ago, Savio's death was ruled an accident. But in light of Stacy Peterson's disappearance, authorities exhumed Savio's body Tuesday to try to determine if her death was truly accidental. Drew Peterson denies any wrongdoing. For TODAY, Kevin Tibbles, NBC News.

LAUER: Mr. Peterson, welcome back.

Mr. DREW PETERSON (Suspect In Fourth Wife's Disappearance): Thank you.

LAUER: So, just real quickly touch on the fact that, as I said, it's said it's--it's reported that Stacy asked you for a divorce just two days before she disappeared. And you--and you combine that with the fact that Kathy died while your divorce settlement was still being negotiated. Do you understand why people see a rather alarming consequence here?

Mr. PETERSON: Sure. However, Stacy--I'm not trying to be funny here--but Stacy would ask me for a divorce after her sister died on a regular basis. I'm not trying to be funny. And it was based on her menstrual cycle.

LAUER: So--so, when Stacy asked you for a divorce on October 26th, it didn't anger you? You weren't upset by it?

Mr. PETERSON: It was like every--any other moment that she had that she was unhappy with something, she would want a divorce.

LAUER: So, when people look at you and they say, `Here's a guy who's been a cop for 30 years, he knows police work, he knows weapons, he probably knows how other criminals have gone about covering their tracks, he's the perfect guy to commit a crime,' how do you respond to that?

Mr. PETERSON: How can I? What can you say? I can't even respond to that.

LAUER: As someone who does know the system and who's understood for years what it takes to piece together a case, to bring together evidence, how does it feel to have the weight of that system now turned and focused on you?

Mr. PETERSON: It's very frightening, very frightening.

LAUER: What are you most frightened about?

Mr. PETERSON: Basically, my legal defense. Talking to lawyers Monday night, it could cost as much as a quarter million dollars to defend one of these cases. So, basically, I'm reaching out to attorneys of America for help. If anybody would like to take my case and help me out here, please call. Let me know what you can do for me. Help me out.

LAUER: The families of Stacy and of Kathy have been very vocal as of late.

Mr. PETERSON: Right.

LAUER: Why do you think they would target you if they think you had nothing to do with either the death or disappearance of their loved one?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't know. Maybe they even are prompted by the media to say this or do that. You know, I had a meeting with Geraldo Rivera and he was at my kitchen table and he asked me to tell my story. And as I'm telling the story, he says, `Well, say it like this, say it like this.' So, everything he said wasn't even my words. And he walks outside and he says, `Here's a man with a noose tightening around his neck.' I mean,...

LAUER: If you were me or if you were the average citizen on the street who's read about this case and seen it on TV, would you think you're guilty, that you had some involvement in this?

Mr. PETERSON: Based on the media coverage, I'm as guilty as they come.

LAUER: And yet, you still maintain there is no guilt?


LAUER: You have no connection to any of these...


LAUER: ...situations?

Mr. PETERSON: And I--I think my silence has basically painted me guilty in the media.

LAUER: A grand jury has been convened in this case. They're starting to question family members of yours, friends of yours. Do you expect to be charged?

Mr. PETERSON: I don't know. I just don't know. I think because of the media coverage and the--the magnitude of this case, I believe somebody has to do something. So, and if they don't do anything, they'll be--they'll be scrutinized for that.

LAUER: Do you have anything you can present to me that might prove your innocence?

Mr. PETERSON: No. I don't know what to tell you. Just let the case unfold as it does.

LAUER: There are--there are probably a lot of legal experts and lawyers out there right now saying, `This guy should not be sitting on this show talking to this guy right now while he's the subject of this investigation, perhaps even these investigations.'

Mr. PETERSON: Right.

LAUER: Why did you decide to do this interview?

Mr. PETERSON: I'm doing all that I can, my God, get the media off my back. Get them off my family's back. That's all I'm asking. And I'm here today in an attempt to basically let them see my face, here I am, please get away from my house and leave my family alone.

LAUER: Do you think this interview will accomplish that...

Mr. PETERSON: I'm...

LAUER: ...or in some ways do you think it might turn up the heat?

Mr. PETERSON: I'm begging that it does. Or if it turns up the heat, then I made a mistake coming here.

LAUER: You know the law, Mr. Peterson, you know that if somehow you're deemed to be involved in the death of Kathy Savio or of the disappearance or perhaps even death of Stacy, you face either life in prison or the potential for the death penalty.

Mr. PETERSON: Correct.

LAUER: Have you thought about it?

Mr. PETERSON: Yes. And it's a frightening thing, but my family's provided for, my kids will be OK. They're with my brother and sister-in-law and my son. And I can go in peace if that happens.

LAUER: And if you can tell the people watching today one thing about you that they clearly don't know and don't understand, what would that be?

Mr. PETERSON: What they're seeing is not me. I'm--I've been a jokester all my life. And it's just like now that they're seeing this serious person in deep trouble, and this isn't me. Me is a guy playing jokes on people and kidding around and trying to have fun with life and living.

LAUER: And if Stacy is out there, as you say, where she wants to be, perhaps with another man, perhaps even watching this interview, what would you say to Stacy, your fourth wife?

Mr. PETERSON: Come home. Tell people where you are. And that's all I can say.

LAUER: Drew Peterson. Mr. Peterson, I appreciate you agreeing to do this interview this morning. And,...


LAUER: ...obviously, we'll keep our viewers posted on--poached--posted on the details of this case.

Mr. PETERSON: OK. Thank you.

LAUER: Thank you very much.