11/30/2007 (www.newsweek) Newsweek Magazine

“Either Get Me or Don’t"

(Peterson kids testified 3 Hrs, Sharon Bychowski on 10/28 Fight)



‘Either Get Me or Don’t’

Under investigation for the disappearance of one wife and the death of another, former police sergeant Drew Peterson tells NEWSWEEK he's anxious for the case to wrap up.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Impatient: Peterson, caught by photographers as he left home this week, says he's tired of the investigation and media scrutiny

By Hilary Shenfeld | Newsweek Web Exclusive

Nov 30, 2007 | Updated: 3:13 p.m. ET Nov 30, 2007

Even though the evidence against him seems to be mounting, Drew Peterson rejects the idea that he'll be arrested in connection with the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, and the death of his third wife. "It's hard to imagine you would be [arrested] if you haven't done anything wrong," the former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant told NEWSWEEK in an exclusive interview Thursday. But Peterson is growing impatient with the investigation, which has caused a media sensation around a man who has been married four times, fathering six children—but whose relationships have ended mysteriously and often acrimoniously. "I wish something would happen one way or the other," he said. "Let's get this going. Either get me or don't get me."

He may soon get his wish—and he seems prepared for the worst, despite his insistence on his innocence. That's why he has arranged for his four youngest children to be taken in by a family member, whom he did not identify, and has set aside money for their care if daddy is taken away in handcuffs. "My children will be provided for," he said.

But Peterson, 53, could not shield his children from the widening investigation into the disappearance of Stacy, 23, who hasn't been heard from since Oct. 28, and the death of Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, 40, who was discovered in a dry bathtub in her home in 2004, her hair bloody and a one-inch gash on the back of her head. Although Savio's death was originally ruled accidental, authorities exhumed her body Nov. 13 to conduct another autopsy. The FBI was brought in this week to help search for Stacy, and results from Savio's new autopsy could be in next week. Peterson told NEWSWEEK that police recently interviewed his 13- and 14-year-old sons by Savio for three hours. Peterson expects his sons' videotaped testimony will be submitted to a grand jury investigating Savio's death and Stacy's disappearance. Peterson also revealed that his son from his first marriage, Stephen, 28, was called before the grand jury on Thursday. Peterson declined to comment about the specifics of his family members' testimony.

But Sharon Bychowski, next-door neighbor of the Petersons, believes the 13-year-old has information that will be helpful to the authorities. A close friend of Stacy's who often watched her kids, Bychowski said she talked to the boy after her disappearance. "I think he heard them fighting. And then he heard them stop fighting," she told NEWSWEEK. "I have no doubt that kid knows something."

Other people may also be in the know. Drew Peterson's stepbrother Thomas Morphey is reported to have come to Peterson's house on Oct. 28 and helped him move a large, heavy, warm blue container from an upstairs bedroom into Peterson's SUV, according to media reports. Morphey later called a friend and said, "I think I just helped Drew dispose of Stacy," according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. Distraught by his realization, Morphey apparently tried to commit suicide two days later. Bolingbrook police confirm an ambulance call to the man's home for a suspected overdose.

Peterson said he was going to visit Morphey in the hospital but didn't seem concerned. Said Bychowski, "[Peterson] said, 'He lost his job. He lost his family. Oh well, go figure'." Bychowski added that police have asked her if she ever saw a large tote owned by the Petersons.

Peterson's lawyer accused Morphey of having a history of alcohol and mental health problems, and Peterson denies the existence of the blue container or asking his stepbrother for help.

The day Stacy vanished, she reportedly told Peterson she wanted a divorce. "She had all his stuff packed up," said Bychowski, who said that her friend had become tired of Peterson's controlling ways. Peterson contends Stacy left him for another man. But Bychowski doesn't buy that, even though an old friend of Stacy's has admitted trading flirty e-mails with her in the weeks before she disappeared. The man, Scott Rossetto, a registered nurse, told the media he hadn't talked to Stacy in years when she called him out of the blue recently, and they resumed their friendship. He denied they had a romantic relationship.

"She thought he might be able to help her with her career," said Bychowski of Stacy, who was taking nursing classes. "It's not possible" she was having an affair, Bychowski added. "That girl did not have five minutes to herself. [Peterson] was always following her."

But Peterson is not looking for Stacy now. He maintains he doesn't know where she is. "Either she's going to see all this media coverage and come out," he told NEWSWEEK, "or she's going to be scared and go deeper."

Peterson lashed out at the families of his third and fourth wives. "I want it out there that these two women had very abusive childhoods," he said. He contends Savio was sexually abused as a child by a stepfather, who is now deceased, and that Stacy's mother had drinking problems and abandoned the family in 1988 after telling them she was on her way to church and never returning. Stacy Peterson's family did not respond to requests for comment. Savio's sister, Anna Doman, 52, denied that Kathleen was sexually abused. Doman said that Kathleen's childhood was "pretty happy" and that she had no out-of-the-ordinary problems with her parents or stepparents. Doman believes Peterson is "grasping at straws right now because he has nothing left. I wish Drew would stop trashing everyone in the world … He must be guilty if he has to make up things to make himself look good."

Peterson, not surprisingly, sees things differently. He said the only reason he is under suspicion is because "the spouse is always a likely suspect." But he noted that in his nearly three decades as a suburban Chicago cop he became known as someone who could defuse tense domestic disputes. "They used to call me the old 'silver tongue'," he said. "I could go into domestic situations, and by the end I had everyone hugging each other." (A fellow officer, though, told NEWSWEEK that Peterson's career was unremarkable. "He was average," said Lt. Ken Teppel.) Peterson maintains he's the wronged party in all of this. "It kind of hurts," he said. "I've led a pretty honorable life."