Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Peterson's Murder Trial Follows Years of Acrimony; NATION

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Peterson's Murder Trial Follows Years of Acrimony; NATION

Article excerpt

CHICAGO - One relative of Drew Peterson's long-missing fourth wife calls him a dog who deserves to be chained. The boorish, motorcycle-loving ex-police officer on trial in the death of his third wife makes unsavory comments about his alleged victims' families, calling some money-grubbers. He points out one relative's criminal history.

Opening statements are slated for Tuesday in the long-delayed trial of Peterson, 58, a former suburban Chicago police sergeant who was charged in 2009 with murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, 40. Peterson was charged in Savio's 2004 death only after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, 23, vanished in 2007.

Acrimony between Drew Peterson and relatives of his third and fourth wives has swirled for years. That Peterson began dating Stacy Cales, then 17, when he was still married to Savio heightened the tension. And there were the comments he made before his arrest: jokes about a "Win A Date With Drew" contest, suggestions that Stacy's threats of divorce coincided with her menstrual cycle and discussion of appearing on a reality TV show about a Nevada brothel.

Drew Peterson is a suspect in Stacy's disappearance but has not been charged. Stacy Peterson's family hopes a conviction in Savio's death could change that. Her younger sister, Cassandra Cales, said Drew Peterson's braggadocio may eventually prompt him to spill his secrets in prison.

"Drew's a showoff," Cales, now 27, said in a recent interview. "I am sure he will talk if he gets a prison buddy, Bubba, and tell him what he did to Stacy."

Many Savio family members are potential witnesses so they can't speak publicly about the case. But Cales has not been subpoenaed to testify.

"I barely sleep at night," said Cales, who plans to attend the trial. "What keeps me up is the anxiousness of getting through with it - and getting him convicted."

Savio's death was initially ruled an accident, and it was Stacy's 2007 disappearance that prompted officials to exhume Savio's body. Prosecutors say Drew Peterson killed Savio because he feared their divorce settlement would wipe him out financially. They believe he killed Stacy, whose body has never been found, in part to keep her from talking about what she knew about Savio's death. Peterson has denied involvement in Savio's death or his fourth wife's disappearance.

The bitterness between Peterson and his former wives' relatives has often played out in the media.

When Peterson appeared on a talk show on Chicago's WLS-AM radio in 2009 to declare his innocence, Cales called in to confront him. Cursing, she told him, "You murdered my sister. ... You will pay."

After his arrest months later, Cales delighted in seeing him shackled at his arraignment. "It made me feel good to see him chained up like the dog that he is," she told reporters.

Peterson has tried to paint Stacy Peterson's family as dysfunctional. …

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