JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Drew Peterson says Illinois State Police need to apologize to him for suggesting he might have killed his fourth wife, Stacy.
In a news release, Peterson says he is owed an apology because a woman who disappeared 18 years ago was just found alive in California, and he thinks the same could someday happen with Stacy, who vanished four years ago from the family home in Bolingbrook.
KCBS and KCAL-TV Los Angeles reported last week on the case of Judith “Yudith” Bello, who vanished from her home in Stanwood, Wash., in 1993, leaving behind two children. She had been scheduled to pick up her 3-year-old son from daycare, but never showed up, and her car was found abandoned.
But while Bello was feared dead, it turned out that she was actually living in Fontana, Calif., under a new name with a new life and a new family.
Relatives said at the time that Bello, 28 at the time of her disappearance, had run off because her former husband was abusive.
In the news release, Peterson said Bello’s case proves that his statements about what happened to Stacy are perfectly plausible.
Peterson has always claimed that Stacy, 23 when she disappeared, ran off with another man. But Stacy’s own family says there is no way she would have abandoned her two young children.
But Drew Peterson says if Bello abandoned her children and vanished for years, there is no reason to believe that his fourth wife didn’t do the same.
“Suspicion was cast on her husband because they were having marital difficulties,” a news release on Peterson’s behalf said. “Police at the time said that it was unlikely Bello would voluntarily leave because she was a good mother and was close to her family. It turns out that’s exactly what she did.”
Thus, Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, said he is owed an apology by state police for saying Stacy is “missing and presumed dead” and for naming him a person of interest in her disappearance.
“There is a huge cloud of suspicion cast over Drew Peterson because of the Illinois State Police’s statement that Stacy Peterson is presumed dead; however there is absolutely no evidence to support that statement,” Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky said in the release. “They made it seem like no woman, no mother, would ever just disappear, but as this most recent case shows, it does happen. In fact it happens more often than you would think”
Brodsky said when Stacy was a youngster, her own mother disappeared.
“In Stacy’s mind disappearing may be ‘normal,’” Brodsky said in the release.
Drew Peterson remains in custody at the Will County Jail, awaiting trial on murder charges in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub in 2004.
The Will County Coroner’s office originally ruled Savio’s death an accidental drowning. But after Stacy disappeared in October 2007, Savio’s body was exhumed and her death was reclassified as a homicide.
Peterson made the rounds on national talk shows after he became the subject of suspicions, steadfastly proclaiming his innocence and repeating that Stacy had run off with someone else. While Peterson was ultimately arrested and charged in Savio’s murder in 2009, he has never been charged in Stacy’s disappearance.
“I hope you regret what you’ve done, taking someone so sweet and so fragile away from your family and you — and me and my family,” Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli in October. “She meant no harm to you and she wasn’t going to take all your money and everything. You just couldn’t live with her being with another man. She loved you very much and she just couldn’t put up with your jealousy and that’s what we talked about the night before you murdered her.”
Drew Peterson is expected to go on trial in Savio’s murder next year.