11/17/2007 (www.chicagotribune.com) Chicago Tribune

“Peterson’s 1st Wife Describes Doting Husband” (Carol Brown)



Peterson's 1st wife describes doting husband

By Gerry Smith | Tribune staff reporter

10:07 PM CST, November 17, 2007

Carol Brown was five months pregnant with Drew Peterson's first child when she had a miscarriage. She had been bed-ridden in the weeks before, and Peterson was by her side, bringing her food and "always being very supportive of me," she said.

It would have been the couple's first child, and Peterson was devastated, she said. Speaking publicly for the first time since the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, Peterson's fourth wife, Brown, 50, described her ex-husband's support during the traumatic pregnancy and painted a more nuanced portrait than the increasingly controlling and suspicious husband described by his second wife and relatives of other wives.

In an interview published in the Tribune on Friday, Drew Peterson's second wife, Vicki Connolly, spoke of the extremes she experienced with him: wonderful at times, and "really bad" at others, including threats on her life

Brown said Drew Peterson never threatened her or abused her during their six-year marriage between 1974 and 1980. She acknowledged, however, that he was a study in contrasts, a charming teenager and doting young husband who also could be controlling and, eventually, unfaithful.

Police have described Drew Peterson, 53, as a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and are reinvestigating the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was discovered in a bathtub in 2004.

Asked if she thought Drew Peterson was involved in either case, Brown said, "I can't answer that."

Brown has declined numerous requests for interviews, allowing her current husband of 26 years, David Brown, to speak for her.

Meanwhile, she has watched media reports on the Peterson case in disbelief, never considering that the lanky teenager she met her freshman year of high school could be capable of murder.

At Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, Carol Brown and Drew Peterson met through a friend of Peterson's, who was a senior at the time. Back then, Brown said, she was drawn to his charismatic and outspoken personality.

"He was very outgoing, always told a lot of jokes," she said. "He was very confident."

The couple went on dates, with Peterson bringing her flowers, taking her to movies and his senior prom.

Three years later, in 1974, they married. After Peterson briefly attended the College of DuPage, the couple moved to Falls Church, Va., where he trained as a military police officer.

"That was always his ambition to be a police officer," she said.

They later moved to Bolingbrook, where they went out to dinner with other police couples. She rarely went out on her own, she said.

"He didn't really like me going out at night with friends," Brown said. "But he wouldn't hold me hostage and say, 'No you can't go out.' "

Peterson, by contrast, was out almost every night as an undercover police officer, she said. Then, when she was pregnant with their second child, she discovered that Peterson had been cheating on her.

"I thought he always had respect for me, but I guess when you stray in a relationship, you don't have respect for the person that you were doing that to."

In 1980, Peterson filed for divorce and appointed an attorney. Brown, who was not working at the time, could not afford a lawyer, so Peterson's attorney oversaw the divorce proceedings.

"That would be the controlling-type thing that he would do," she said. "He'd want things his way, and I'd want things my way and I think that's normal in any divorce relationship."

As for Peterson hiring an attorney to mediate the divorce, Brown said, "What kind of ethics did that lawyer have that he would represent both of us?"

Still, Brown was given full custody of their two children, and in 1981, she married David Brown, who was in Peterson's class at Willowbrook High School.

Though she received only $250 per month in child support, "if the kids ever needed anything extra, whether it was sports equipment or extra fees in school, I would ask him and he would pay it," she said. "There was no argument ever."

Peterson rarely attended his sons' sporting events, but Brown and her husband would be joined by Peterson's second wife, Vicki Connolly.

In August, Brown saw Peterson for the first time in years at their son Steve's wedding. By then, Peterson was married to Stacy Peterson, but he arrived at the wedding alone.

"I didn't feel like I needed to have much contact with him," Brown said.