Monday, November 19, 2007

Forensics Casebook III: Kathleen Savio, Stacy Peterson, the Chicago Cop & Faking Death by Drowning

As promised in Forensics Casebook II: Kathleen Savio, Stacy Peterson, Dr. Baden, & the Chicago Cop, I'm going to tell you how a homicide can be made to look like a drowning. Given that Savio apparently drowned, battered and bruised, in a dry bathtub, the questions asked in Forensics Casebook II are especially relevant to the mystery of her death.

But first, a PSA (no, not a Public Service Announcement, a Peterson Service Announcement): now that Drew Peterson, the hastily-retired former Bolingbrook police sergeant, has lawyered up, we're all supposed to note a few things. First, Joel A. Brodsky wants it made clear that noted expert Dr. Michael Baden did not identify Peterson as the culprit in any homicide of Kathleen Savio.

In one of the most wasted and uncomfortable interviews in this whole mess, Matt Lauer tackled Brodsky and the snickering Peterson. Brodsky, with Peterson literally jammed up shoulder-to-shoulder and arm-to-arm with him, noted that there is no official linking of Peterson to either Savio's death or the fact that Stacy Peterson, wife #4, missing.

OK, so Peterson's been officially named a suspect in Stacy's disappearance, but there's no linkage between him and the questions about the lives and fates of his wives. There's an entire Peterson laundry list of control factors for the world, announced by his lawyer as Peterson clams up, then tweaked by Peterson when he un-clams.

Like this: Peterson says he's distressed about the effect of media coverage on him. Oh, today's People Magazine shoot? He didn't mean that, obviously. Nor did he think that the People shoot would disrupt his family life. It's so hard, you know, being a media phenomenon: you have to tease 'em with "no," then give 'em a little leg and a little "yes, yes."

But in the middle of all this we find: shattered lives. Back to Baden's autopsy of Kathleen Savio, Peterson's third wife (Stacy, #4, is still missing in case you lost that among all the Drew, Drew, Drew promotions). Funny thing: Baden never said that Peterson did it. He specifically said that "who done it" wasn't part of the responsibility of an autopsy. But apparently Brodsky wanted to make it clear that what Baden didn't say wasn't right.

However, Savio's exhumed body stood as mute witness to her death. Baden, acting for the Savio family, said it was definitely a homicide. Initially, the authorities had ruled it an accident by drowning.

Savio's first autopsy had revealed "moderate edema" of the respiratory system. The head laceration and some bruises were also noted.

There are many good references for forensics. For this, I chose Forensics for Dummies simply because it is accessible to the layperson and forthrightly stated.

Here's they key point: "... If you place a corpse in water, and it remains submerged for a period of time after death, the lungs passively fill with water, and the ME's examination can't distinguish this postmortem fluid in the lungs from liquid that resulted in death."

Savio was in the water long enough to have wrinkled fingers, when found in the dry tub. How long was that? And was the "moderate edema" of the respiratory system caused by water entering the lungs before or after death?

Was Savio unconscious, or even dead, when she was placed in water? There are many things, including inconsistent statements from Peterson and witnesses, that need explaining.


  1. You really have done a lot of work on your blog! Enjoyed the picture and story, "The Peanut Man". Excellent writing.
    (from Greta's blog)

  2. You really have done a lot of work on your blog! Enjoyed the picture and story, "The Peanut Man". Excellent writing.
    (from Greta's blog)

  3. This man has twice said he's guilty. In his first interview with Lauer, he said "I'm as guilty as they come."

    On the second interview, he barely speaks yet he implicates himself again. When Lauer asks if there's anything further Peterson would like to say to his wife, he responds with "I'd like her to SHOW herself so this thing can be dealt with...." A person who is alive and with someone else and who's been very attached to her children and family would find a way to call or send word. He KNOWS she is not alive and I susepct he knows she is not above ground either, given the "show" comment.

    In not one interview has he ever said anything directly to his wife. He has made no pleas and he shows absolutely none of the concern a man who's wife is missing would show. No anger, no sadness, no fear, no expectable emotion.

    As to the lawyer, if there are no charges laid and if, as the lawyer said, they don't expect any charges, why is the lawyer speaking for Peterson? Because they both know that Peterson tells the entire truth every time he opens his mouth.

  4. I'm really hoping that DP will get his wish and Stacy will "show" herself - float to the top, be uncovered, whatever it takes.

    You've done a lot of work here on your blog! Your writing style really draws the reader in. I love it!

    And I can't believe there's really a Forensics for Dummies! That's too funny, but you know I'll be checking it out at the bookstore.

    I've bookmarked you and will be back to read more.

    Donna (Pixie from Greta's blog)

  5. Anonymous, you are so right on. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


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