Details of Disappearance
Stacy's husband of four years, Drew Walter Peterson, says he last saw her leaving their home on Pheasant Chase Court in Bolingbrook, Illinois at approximately 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. on October 28, 2007. She was supposed to go meet a friend and help paint a house, but never arrived.
Drew claims he spoke to Stacy by telephone at 9:00 p.m. that day. She has never been heard from again and her cellular phone has not been used. She was reported missing at 4:00 a.m. the next morning.
After her disappearance, her purple two-door 2002 Pontiac was found in the parking lot of the Clow Airport, about 400 yards from the Peterson home. Drew says Stacy told him she had left it there, and he went there to get it.
Stacy's husband, Drew Peterson, was an officer with the Bolingbrook Police Department at the time of her disappearance. He had worked for the department for 29 years by 2007. He had been fired in 1985 for misconduct. It was alleged that he conducted a self-assigned investigation and failed to report a bribe offer. He was reinstated in 1986 because there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegations.
A photograph of Drew is posted with this case summary. He was placed on paid leave from the police department after Stacy's disappearance, then permitted to retire on a $6,000 monthly pension. Prior to Stacy's disappearance, he had decided to retire from law enforcement in November or December 2007. The chief refused to accept Drew's resignation and wanted him to be fired instead, as he was under investigation for alleged misconduct.
Stacy is Drew's his fourth wife. His third wife, Kathleen Savio, divorced Drew after a troubled marriage. She claimed he had beaten her and threatened her life. Savio was located deceased in a bathtub in March 2004. She was lying face-down in the tub and had a gash in the back of her head. The tub was dry, but Savio's hair was wet and her fingertips were wrinkled from recent water immersion.
Her death was originally ruled an accidental drowning, and Drew collected life insurance policies totaling $1 million, but investigators took another look at the case after Stacy went missing.
Drew initially cooperated with the police investigating Stacy's disappearance. In media interviews, he said he believed she had left him for another man, was safe and simply did not want to be found. He claimed he had received an anonymous letter from someone who had seen Stacy alive and well in Peoria, Illinois.
Drew said Stacy had been under the care of a psychiatrist and was taking medication for anxiety and depression at the time of her disappearance, and that she had been irritable and short-tempered. He said she took some cash, her passport and her bikini when she left.
Stacy's loved ones did not believe she would have voluntarily abandoned her two young children. Her sister stated Stacy had described Drew as controlling and abusive, and that she wanted a divorce.
Police executed several search warrants on the Peterson home in the days and weeks following Stacy's disappearance, and removed bedding, eleven guns, electronic equipment, Drew's 2005 GMC SUV and Stacy's car. Some items, including a nightstand, scuba diving weights and a blue barrel large enough to hold a human body, were said to be missing from the home.
A neighbor reported seeing Drew and another man hauling away the blue barrel around the time Stacy vanished. Drew's stepbrother, Thomas Morphey, says he helped him dispose of the barrel and was paid for his assistance. Afterwards, he believed he had unknowingly helped Drew dispose of Stacy's body and became so distraught he tried to commit suicide. He survived. Drew denied having removed any container from his home and said Morphey has a history of mental illness and alcohol abuse problems.
On November 9, a week and a half after Stacy disappeared, investigators announced they believed she was a victim of foul play. Previously, they had classified her as a simple missing person. Drew was named as a suspect in Stacy's disappearance and presumed homicide. That same month, Savio's body was exhumed from her grave and autopsied. The results indicated she had been murdered and then the scene was staged to make it look like an accident. Savio's family stated they had always suspected as much.
Drew's second wife, who divorced him in 1992, said in media interviews that Drew had repeatedly threatened to kill her and make her death look like an accident. Another woman, who agreed to marry Drew in the 1980s but then ended their relationship, described him as jealous and possessive. Drew become engaged to another woman Stacy's age in December 2008. He is still legally married to Stacy.
In May 2009, Drew was arrested and charged with Savio's murder. The prosecution theorized he killed her to avoid being ruined financially in a divorce settlement. His attorney stated the case against him is weak and one of Drew's sons could provide an alibi for him. Drew was tried for the murder in the summer of 2012 and convicted in September. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison; he could have faced a maximum of sixty.
Stacy's own mother, Christie Cales, disappeared in 1998 and has never been located. The cases are not believed to be connected, however.
At the time of her disappearance, Stacy was a nursing student at Joliet Junior College, which she had been attending on and off since 2001. Foul play is suspected in her case, which remains unsolved.