Police Officer's Wife's Remains Exhumed In Investigation

Saturday, November 17th 2007, 4:03 pm
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) -- Amid the search for a former police officer's fourth wife, a renowned pathologist said Saturday he has examined a previous wife's exhumed remains and determined she was killed.

Former New York City chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden said he analyzed Kathleen Savio's remains at the request of her relatives, who disagree with an earlier ruling that her death was an accident. He concluded she died after a struggle, and her body was placed in the bathtub where she was found.

"I'm convinced she was the victim of a murder. 'Who done it' is up to the police to resolve," Baden said in a telephone interview.

Results of a separate, official autopsy will not be available for several days, authorities said.

A coroner's jury initially ruled that Savio's 2004 death was an accidental drowning. But now, with Drew Peterson's fourth wife missing for more than two weeks, authorities are re-examining the circumstances of Savio's death.

Peterson, 53, who resigned this week as a Bolingbrook police sergeant, has not been named a suspect in Savio's death. But he is a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth and current wife, Stacy, who was last seen Oct. 28 and whose case authorities have called a possible homicide.

Peterson has an unlisted number. He has denied any involvement in either case and said he believes his 23-year-old wife left him for another man and is alive.

Savio's body was exhumed this week at the request of Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, who has said after examining evidence he believes her death was a homicide staged to look like an accident.

The state's attorney's office allowed Baden to use the county morgue for his work and a state's attorney's investigator attended the autopsy, spokesman Charles Pelkie said.

The purplish color of bruises on Savio's body indicated she got them shortly before she died, Baden said.

"It was consistent with a beating," he said.

Documents released by Savio's family indicate she believed, at least briefly, that he would kill her: "He pulled out his knife that he kept around his leg and brought it to my neck," she wrote in a letter the family says was sent to prosecutors.

Pelkie said it remains unclear if that letter ever came to the office.

Attorney Fred Morelli, who once represented Peterson, said he never heard the knife claims about his former client.

"That's the first I've heard of that," Morelli said. "That's crazy. ... (Peterson) was a very pleasant, personable fellow. Other than that, I don't know."