Witness: Drew Peterson’s ex-wife slept with knife under mattress, put deadbolt on bedroom door

By Don Babwin, AP
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Witness: Peterson’s ex-wife slept with knife

JOLIET, Ill. — A friend of Drew Peterson’s ex-wife testified Wednesday that she was so afraid of her ex-husband that she installed a deadbolt lock on her bedroom door and slept with a knife under her mattress.

Kristin Anderson, who stayed with her family at Kathleen Savio’s home for two months in 2003 while her own home was being built, said Savio told her Peterson had dressed in his SWAT uniform, held a knife to her throat on her staircase and threatened to kill her.

“She was so convinced that that’s what he was going to do — that he was going to follow through with his threat,” said Anderson.

Anderson’s testimony came during a hearing to determine what hearsay evidence, if any, will be allowed at Peterson’s upcoming murder trial.

Hearsay, or statements not based on the direct knowledge of a witness, usually isn’t admissible in court. But Illinois judges can allow it in murder trials if prosecutors prove a defendant may have killed a witness to prevent them from testifying. There’s little available forensic evidence in Savio’s case, so prosecutors are expected to rely on statements Savio allegedly made to others saying she feared Peterson could kill her.

Peterson, a 56-year-old former Bolingbrook police officer, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Savio’s 2004 death, which was initially ruled accidental but later reclassified a homicide after the 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

Peterson has not been charged in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, but authorities say he is a suspect.

Like another friend of Savio’s who testified Tuesday, Anderson said she told state police she feared Peterson might have been involved in her friend’s death. She testified that she told state police about the alleged incident on the staircase, but that she didn’t hear back from investigators until after Savio’s body was exhumed following Stacy Peterson’s disappearance.

Prosecutors have raised serious questions about the original investigation by the Illinois State Police into Savio’s death and the determination that her drowning in her bathtub was accidental.

Earlier in the hearing, the lead investigator, retired State Police Sgt. Patrick Collins, conceded he believed Savio’s death was an accident from almost the minute he stepped into her suburban Chicago home. And he agreed he conducted a less-than-thorough investigation, even failing to collect any forensic evidence from the scene.

Also on Wednesday, Savio’s sister Anna Doman testified that she viewed the disappearance of Stacy Peterson as an opportunity to “raise awareness” about her long-held suspicions that Savio’s death was not an accident.

Doman testified that she gave to the media some of the contents of a briefcase that Savio, before her death, had told Doman to retrieve from her house if she died.

Doman did not say exactly what was in the briefcase, but testified it contained items such as a police report and letters concerning Savio and Drew Peterson’s marriage and divorce.

Later, Anderson also said she saw some of what was in the briefcase and testified that Savio told her it contained a letter Savio wrote to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office outlining her fears of Drew Peterson. That letter was widely reported in the media.

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