Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Searching for Truth: The Peterson Follies
After decades of covering many types of news stories, one thing I've learned is that truth is always stranger than fiction. But even given that axiom, the Drew Peterson case has soared into galaxies of previously unexplored weirdness.
As I write this, the Peterson home is again being searched by law enforcement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. It's the fourth time the house has been searched--including a sweep by cadaver dogs--since Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in October.
Meanwhile, attorney Joel Brodsky has alleged that the entire Bolingbrook, ILL police department, where Peterson was a career cop, routinely uses police databases to conduct illegal investigations for personal reasons. Brodsky, who once lost his law license for signing a dead man's checks, declared that his client should be excused for using those databases for stalking his wife (or wives), because everybody does it.
It's the first time I've ever seen a defense attorney admit that his client has committed what Police Chief Ray McGury says is a felony-level offense. McGury, who inherited the entire Peterson mess from his predecessor, told Brodsky to provide details about officers routinely commiting these offenses.
Brodsky, whose media performances have become the equivalent of an amateur rhinestone-spangled trapeze act in a very low-rent circus, fired back that he doesn't have to prove his allegations. Question: what happens if McGury launches an investigation and calls Brodsky as a witness? It would be "put up or shut up" time for Brodsky.
Brodsky, upset over his less-than-stellar showing during Fox News' Greta Van Susteren's "On the Record" last night, fired off a rambling, angry email to the veteran lawyer-journalist. In it, he announced "Secondly, as to the chief’s challenge for me to provide him with the names of people that have misused the databases, and the times of the acts of misuse, this makes no sense."
Let me translate this into everyday terms. "Officer, yes I saw someone rob the jewelry store. Yes, I called you to report it. You want a description of the suspect? That makes no sense."
If this were a circus, the number of smear attempts on everyone in pop-gun firing range and the increasingly bizarre comments spewed by Brodsky and Peterson would be like the rickety, never-ending clown car act.. Just when you think you've seen more nutsy things crawl out of the car than is realistically possible, out pops one or two more.
Theme song for this act: "a little song, a little dance,a little seltzer down the pants."
Meanwhile, the real issues include: what happened to Stacy Peterson, now missing for more than a month after asking Peterson for a divorce? And what happened to third wife, Kathleen Savio, who drowned in an empty bath tub? Presiding at the processing of the "accident"--Drew Peterson, then St. Peterson, who inherited more than one and a half million dollars in various assets.
From money to malice, this story has more twists and turns than a stripper working a pole. There's the truckers who say Peterson and a sidekick tried to bribe an off-the-record load outta town, a suicidal step-brother who's afraid he helped lug Stacy's body out of the home at Peterson's behest, and then the decades of women who Peterson was a stalker and abuser.
Plus Savio's pleas for help, including 18 domestic disturbance calls and a head injury after Peterson knocked her into a coffee table during a fight. And women who say that Peterson bragged he could kill them and make it look like an accident.
Massive searches for Stacy by volunteers, 64 Illinois law enforcement investigators, and the FBI have continued for weeks. Peterson's focus, however, has been his love-hate relationship with the media, from People Magazine's cover to his childish filming of the media to strike back at them.
Then there's Peterson's attempt to derail a prayer vigil for Stacy last weekend. As law enforcement announced a new focus on searching a specific nearby canal, Peterson's still doing the "poor me" soft shoe. His story is that he's an abandoned spouse whose nutsy, "spoiled" wife ran off with another man. Just in case we don't buy that, an anonymous message detailing a sighting of Stacy in Peoria was sent to Peterson--rather than to a tip line offering a $25,000 reward. Afterwards, Peterson made sure he was photographed checking his mailbox.
The archives tell the many tales of Drew Peterson. With questions now being raised about other bodies linked to Peterson, this story, at its core, asks: was there a Bluebeard with a badge on the prowl?
No one really knows yet, just as we don't know what really happened to Stacy or Kathleen Savio. But we do know this: there are four children in a house with a man who at least one ex-wife says was abusive to his older children. The most recent two, of course, are dead and missing.
If this were a play, it would be Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author." As the master crafter of the balance between reality and fiction declared: "Yes, but haven't you perceived that it isn't possible to live in front of a mirror which not only freezes us with the image of ourselves, but throws our likeness back at us with a horrible grimace?