State

Man who found body of former officer’s third wife defends officer

CHICAGO (AP) — A man who found the body of former police officer Drew Peterson’s third wife in a bathtub three years ago says when Peterson saw the woman for the first time he was obviously surprised — and distraught.

“He checked her pulse right away to see if she was dead or alive. Then he was, ’Oh my god, what am I gonna tell my kids? What am I gonna tell my kids?”’ Steve Carcerano said Friday.

An investigation into Kathleen Savio’s 2004 death in suburban Bolingbrook was launched after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared late last month.

Ruled an accidental drowning at the time, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said after reviewing the case he believes Savio’s death was a homicide staged to look like an accident. Her body was exhumed this week at Glasgow’s request in the hopes that an examination will reveal clues about her death.

Carcerano said he doesn’t know what happened to Savio. But he remains convinced that Peterson, with whom he remains friends, did not know his ex-wife was dead until Carcerano called him to the bathroom after he found her body.

“I looked right into his eyes at this point,” he said in a telephone interview from his Bolingbrook home. Carcerano said he’s been called to appear before a grand jury next week.

The 53-year-old Peterson, who resigned this week as a Bolingbrook police sergeant, has not been identified as a suspect in Savio’s death. But the Illinois State Police have said he is a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, 23. The agency now says the case is being investigated as a possible homicide.

Peterson has an unlisted number. He has denied any role in his ex-wife’s death or current wife’s disappearance.

Carcerano, who has talked to Peterson regularly since Stacy disappeared, also defended his friend amid a swirl of reports that he was psychologically and physically abusive to at least three of the women to whom he’s been married.

He said he never once saw Peterson strike or shout at his wife in anger, though he said he saw Savio attack Peterson.

“I’ve seen her slap him in the face right in front of me, seen her spit in his face and chasing him around with an extension cord, hitting him with it,” said Carcerano.

He said the night he found Savio’s body, it was Peterson who told him to meet him at Savio’s house because he was concerned he had not heard from Savio in a few days. The couple had two children together.

If Carcerano didn’t see Peterson mistreat Savio or Peterson, others — including Peterson’s second wife — say he did.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Vicki Connolly said Peterson struck her and told her that he could kill her and make it look like an accident. Connolly said that while she didn’t believe he would ever kill her, she confided in Bolingbrook police officers she considered friends.

Connolly, who was married to Peterson for 10 years, beginning in 1982, said Peterson took steps to control her, including placing recording devices in their home.

“He was cheating so much he wanted to make sure I wasn’t,” she told the paper. “His whole thing with us is that, ’I need to know my family is safe at home and you’re not going to be doing anything you shouldn’t be doing’ — and that enabled him to do whatever he wanted.”

She said the two divorced after Peterson and Savio started having an affair.

Connolly’s descriptions of Peterson’s behavior are similar to those made in recent days by the families of both Savio and Stacy Peterson, and by Savio herself in court documents.

Savio, for example, reported in an order of protection that she sought and received in 2002 that Peterson threatened to kill her, knocked her down and “left marks on my body all the time.” And in a letter that her family says she sent to authorities, she claimed he held a knife to her throat.

Stacy Peterson’s sister, Cassandra Cales, has said that Peterson followed Stacy and even tracked her with GPS.

But the husband of Peterson’s first wife told a Chicago television station this week that his wife never has mentioned Peterson being violent or threatening.

“She didn’t have any of that kind of problem with him that long ago,” said Dave Brown, who said his wife and Peterson haven’t talked in more than a decade.

Carcerano said he talked to Peterson as recently as Thursday night, and that his friend still believes that Stacy Peterson left him for another man and is alive.

As for Carcerano, though he said he remains convinced that Peterson had nothing to do with Savio’s death or Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, he’s not sure what to think about where Stacy might be.

“I’m sure hoping she’s alive,” he said.

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