Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I take what I do very seriously and it has saved many lives

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Drew Peterson: A View From Two Perspectives

by Susan Murphy-Milano

(Part 2: The Violence Expert Version)

Twenty years as a violence expert was never an intended career choice. It did not evolve from sitting behind a desk, researching the subject, blogging or reading journals from a crime periodical. It was harvested like a crop in the fields. Like adding another candle on a birthday cake every year, the violence escalated in my home and the screams for help turned into an important lesson in survival.

My own
Mother died on my watch, so to speak. After years of violence by my father, a Chicago police detective, they finally divorced. Within 6 months of my mother’s false belief she was safe, I discovered her dead body in the kitchen of the former marital home she and my father once shared.

Similar to
Drew Peterson and other perpetrators of violence in the home, my father was not going to allow my mother to benefit in any way from the divorce. This included her own personal freedom which he owned like the title to a car, until the day she died.

We have not heard much about Kathleen Savio other than she died of an accidental drowning in a bathtub. Her body exhumed 4 years later only because Stacy Peterson had vanished after a botched investigation.

In 1992,
Kathleen Savio was an accountant in her late twenties when a mutual acquaintance who happened to be a police officer’s wife set up a blind date for her to meet Drew Peterson. Friends and family members recall how happy Kathleen was with Drew. A few short months after the couple began dating Drew popped the question. Kathleen felt safe and secure knowing she was marrying a man who made her feel safe and secure. Shortly after the couple’s second child was born, the marriage began to crumble. Drew was beginning to shout the national anthem, a theme used among most abusers maintaining power and control. “Bitch,”, you “whore.” "You look like a dog." You f..king slob.” When that did not have the affect Drew was looking for, with his open hand he punched and slapped her as evidenced by medical reports and photo’s taken after a violent outburst.

Similar to other abusers Peterson began setting the stage with his fellow officers in his department, and later on, under his command. Carefully strategizing how “crazy” Kathleen had become in an effort to minimize police response just in case she called and tried to report him for threatening and physically harming her. Obviously his plan worked because when officers from the Bolingbrook police department responded to the 19 documented calls and another 78 calls magically removed from the police log as responding officers did nothing more than as if someone was trying to "band aid a boo boo.” This case is just one example of the clear reluctance on the part of responding officers to use their police powers in the homes of fellow officers. The hesitation to deal professionally with this crime in my opinion increased the danger to Kathleen’s life. Looking the other way enabled Drew Peterson to increase his threats and violence to his then wife.

Once the couple filed for divorce,
Drew continued his threats of violence and terrorism. Kathleen took out an order protection and was pressured into dropping it. And she did write in her own words on more than one occasion that Drew had “threatened to kill her.” He was furious at the thought of splitting his hard earned assets with Kathleen. This included the bar jointly owned in Montgomery, IL, sold for $325,000 and the martial residence sold at $287,000, half of his pension and shelling out monthly child support payments for his children.

Peterson had a history of abuse from undocumented allegations from Vicki Connely, wife #2 to a serious relationship with a girlfriend who claimed Peterson was stalking her. It is a fact, many officer related cases where violence erupts during the marriage dies with the victim similar to Kathleeen Savio.

Drew Peterson’s motive in 2004 for murder fell on deaf ears after the coroner’s inquest ruled “accidental death,” silencing, Savio’s family members from providing information or ever speaking out. Or the facts of the bogus hand written Will emerging after this healthy mother of 2 “accidently” drowned in a tub she never used when she was alive.

Silence behind the blue wall is also a common theme across the country. Back in 1989, had I not been spared by fate or divine intervention, I too, would have been killed that night. In working to solve cases where a woman has been murdered by an ex-lover or husband each case has characteristics specific to the relationship and the alleged crime. In creating a detailed work- up on a case, often I am able to pin point a direction not considered by police or a Prosecuting attorney to determine motive. And not every case has intent or motive. Each time a woman is murdered I do not assume anything about anyone until information and documents are provided to me. Sometimes relatives or police ask me to review a file on a
missing person or murder case and I do not always have the answers.

I take what I do very seriously and it has saved many lives. My
training and expertise began with a teacher with whom I studied under and feared for many years. As a seasoned veteran Chicago police detective, my father had two professional career’s one as Police detective, the other as a serial abuser.

Over the years of studying and working these types of cases, I have been able to develop specific procedures that work well to take a woman safely from a violent situation and to help get her abuser behind bars. My success rate has been phenomenal.

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