JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Drew Peterson’s defense team has reportedly included his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, on the witness list – even though she has been missing for nearly five years and is widely believed to be dead.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, Peterson has not been seen since Oct. 28, 2007 and has long been presumed dead. Prosecutors suspect she died at the hands of Drew Peterson.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

But Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reports Peterson’s defense has filed a witness list that includes Stacy Peterson, indicating a belief that she is still alive – even though her whereabouts is unknown.

Drew Peterson said from the beginning, and continues to maintain, that Stacy Peterson ran off with another man.

While he was named a “person of interest” shortly after Stacy’s disappearance, Peterson is not charged with anything connected to her. Nonetheless, she is a central figure in the case.

It was Stacy Peterson’s disappearance that led to the exhumation of Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in a dry bathtub in 2004.

Following a new autopsy, the ruling that the death was accidental was revised to deem it a homicide. Statements Stacy Peterson made to others before she vanished are part of the backbone of the Will County State’s Attorney’s case.

Will County Judge Edward Burmila ruled in May that there will be no mention that Stacy Peterson is dead or presumed dead, was killed by the defendant, or anything of the kind.

Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, stands charged with murder in Savio’s death. Jury selection for his trial is set to begin Monday.

Watch & Listen LIVE