JOLIET, Ill. — A pastor told jurors Thursday at Drew Peterson's murder trial that the former suburban Chicago police officer's fourth wife tearfully recounted to him how her husband mysteriously disappeared from their home around the time of his third wife's death, then later coached her about how to lie to investigators.
The Rev. Neil Schori, offering the most dramatic testimony yet at Peterson's trial, told jurors about Stacy Peterson's description of events around Kathleen Savio's death in March 2004. Prosecutors say Drew Peterson killed Savio, 40, because he feared a divorce settlement would ruin him. Peterson, 58, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Peterson's fourth wife spoke to Schori — a counseling minister at the time — on Aug. 31, 2007, just months before she vanished. Her disappearance prompted authorities to re-examine Savio's death, initially found to be the result of a slip in her bathtub.
"She was very scared," Schori said of 23-year-old Stacy Peterson as she told him Peterson warned her police would interview her.
She did lie to investigators, Schori said, after Savio's body was found in a dry bathtub at her home blocks from the Petersons'. He didn't go into detail about the lies, but they apparently involved Peterson's whereabouts.
Schori was one of the last witnesses for prosecutors, who said they expect to rest their four-week presentation of evidence today. Prosecutors have called about 30 witnesses in a challenging case where a lack of physical evidence has led them to rely on hearsay testimony. Hearsay, statements not based on a witness' direct knowledge, usually is not admissible in court, but Illinois passed a law in wake of the Peterson case that allows it in certain circumstances.
Prosecutors suspect Drew Peterson killed Stacy Peterson because she knew too much about Savio's death, though he has never been charged and her body has never been found.
The judge has prohibited prosecutors from mentioning Stacy Peterson's disappearance.