Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stacy Peterson: Searching Till She is Found

Stacy Ann Peterson vanished on October 28, 2007, from the house in the Illinois suburb of Bolingbrook that she shared with her police-officer husband Drew Peterson, her two children and his two sons, whom she'd adopted.

Within 48 hours, camera crews and journalists besieged the once quiet suburban cul-de-sac. Peterson, then a police sergeant, gave them a show -- a bizarre public display including personal attacks on his wife and her family in the wake of her disappearance. The national media covered Peterson's act like a low-life reality TV show. Each day as Peterson left his house, journalists shoved microphones in his face, hungry for a sound bite for evening crime or news broadcasts. If you were a resident of Illinois during the first three weeks after Stacy vanished, you saw Peterson served up on local, cable and radio programs like a charred chicken flapping its wings almost around the clock.

After several months of being stalked and living under her husband's tight, controlling reins, Stacy Peterson told her husband the marriage was over. In October 2007, Stacy met and consulted with divorce attorney Harry Smith -- ironically, the same lawyerKathleen Savio hired to represent her when she decided to divorce Peterson.

When Stacy failed to show up at her brother's house that late-October day, family members were concerned, especially her sister Cassandra Cales. Just two days earlier, after a cozy family night of movie and pizza, Stacy warned Cassandra that she planned to leave Peterson and said: "If something happens to me, I just want you to know it was Drew." When Cassandra couldn't reach her missing sister, she went to Stacy's house and found the four children home alone, with no sign of Peterson's car. At theBolingbrook Police Department, Cassandra filed a missing-person report.

To me, it seemed Peterson treated Stacy's life as something inconsequential. In his attempts to discredit her during media interviews and up until he was arrested on murder charges for Kathleen Savio, Peterson made comments such as "You know she came from a broken home," or, "Her mother went missing too, so this is not a surprise." Then I heard Peterson say, "Stacy is where she wants to be." My heart sank as I thought of the boys who'd now lost a mother twice.

Seventeen days after Cassandra reported Stacy's disappearance, the Will County State Attorney's Office obtained a court order and exhumed the body of Kathleen Savio. Savio, Peterson's previous wife, was discovered dead in a bathtub in the marital house in 2004. Suddenly, the media and police focus swung from Stacy's disappearance to a new autopsy into the cause of Kathleen's death. The effort to find Stacy lost its momentum. The ground began to freeze, making the search more difficult for family and teams of volunteers. And the media remained hooked on Drew's public displays and his love life, leaving no time to find answers or enlist the public's help in finding Stacy.

In the months that followed, I met with people who knew Stacy personally. From the moment she married Drew, Stacy worked to knit a loving family environment, integrating Drew's then-estranged family into the couple's new life. From all accounts, she had a kind, warm and giving heart. People's eyes sparkled when they spoke of her. She made friends and family feel welcome. When a guest didn't show up for a gathering, Stacy called urged, "Come on," one relative recalled. "We're holding dinner, where are you? We're not starting until you get here."

Another told me: "Stacy was the glue, and that's why her disappearance is so painful to those of us who knew her."

Stacy Peterson's dream was to be a loving wife and mother, an all-around nurturer. She enrolled in nursing classes at a local college. When Stacy could no longer live under Peterson's heavy-handed control and constant watch, she made plans to leave. But like many women in her position, she made a mistake. She told her husband what she planned before she was able to move to a place where she'd be safe from him.

Stacy was silenced in the prime of her life. But there can be no silencing of family and friends who will continue to search for her until she is found. 

 Find out how you can help or offer assistance by going to

If you have any information on this case please contact CUE Center For Missing Persons using the contact form below or contact Cue Center at (910) 343-1131 24 hour tip-line (910) 232-1687.

All information submitted to CUE Center For Missing Persons is confidential.


Document The Abuse
contains vital information on how the EAA can support each case of abuse from the perspective of the first responders and advocates, to an appearance in court.  It explains the legal benefits to the abuse victim, whether they are able to testify or not, how their words are forever documented and hold up in court, much like a Living Will.

Susan Murphy Milano is a staff member of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education as a educator and specialist with intimate partner violence prevention strategies directing prevention for high risk situations and cases.

 A national trainer to law enforcement, training officers, prosecutors, judges, legislators, social service providers, healthcare professionals, victim advocates and the faith based community and author.. In partnership with Management Resources Ltd. of New York addressing prevention and solutions within the community to the workplace. Host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show,"Time'sUp!" . She is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated "The Roth Show" with Dr Laurie Roth and a co-host onCrime Wire. Online contributions: Forbes : Crime, She Writes providing commentary about the hottest topics on crime, justice, and law from a woman’s perspective, as well as Time's Up! a blog which searches for solutions (SOS) for victims of crime.


Anonymous said...

Great reminder of the continuing ordeal of the victims of Drew Peterson.

You have my sincere admiration for what you do. Thank you, sister.

Barb ullivan said...

Prayers to bring Stacy home. Appreciate your dedication to all Susan.

Jackie Jordan said...

Please God bring justice. I'm watching this right now on lifetime. Its evil what happens to women in this world.

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