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Crime & Courts

Drew Peterson wrongful death lawsuit dies

Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County courthouse Friday, May 8, 2009 for his arraignment in Joliet, Ill.
Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County courthouse Friday, May 8, 2009 for his arraignment in Joliet, Ill.

An effort to resuscitate a wrongful death suit against murderous ex-Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson failed when lawyers for his slain third wife’s family missed court Monday.

The lawsuit accused Peterson of carrying out a plan to “stalk, attack, repeatedly beat, then drown” his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and claimed he had the means to sneak into her home and, in fact, did so twice before she was found dead in her dry bathtub.

In one instance, according to the lawsuit, Peterson cut a hole in the wall of her house and slithered inside.

The suit, filed on behalf of Savio’s sister, Anna Doman, and father, Henry Savio, was brought three weeks before Peterson, 65, was charged with Kathleen Savio’s murder.

Kathleen Savio’s body was discovered in the bathroom of her Bolingbrook home in March 2004, but a coroner’s jury determined her death was a freak bathtub accident.

Her death was revisited after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously vanished in October 2007. Stacy remains missing. Peterson was convicted of killing Kathleen Savio in September 2012. Prosecutors relied on crucial hearsay testimony to secure the guilty verdict.

“The criminal conviction has procedural and factual deficiencies that should trouble every resident of the state of Illinois,” said attorney John Heiderscheidt, who represented Peterson in the civil case.

“It was popular at the time to want to convict this person,” Heiderscheidt said, “but the principles and tactics used to convict this person could be used to convict any resident of this state without sufficient evidence.”

The lawsuit was dismissed for want of prosecution in April, following the the U.S. Supreme Court declining in October to hear Peterson’s appeal of his murder conviction. In May, the attorneys for Savio’s family filed a motion to vacate the dismissal.

On Monday, the attorneys representing Savio’s family failed to appear for a hearing on their motion to vacate the dismissal.

Martin Glink, an attorney representing Savio’s family, could not be reached for comment on the case.

Two and a half years after he was convicted of killing Savio, Peterson was charged with attempting to orchestrate the murder of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. He was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison, two more than he got for actually killing Kathleen Savio.

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