Ill. sergeant suspected of murder resigns

By Matthew Walberg, Jo Napolitano and Josh Noel
Chicago Tribune

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson "brought shame" to his department, his chief said Tuesday after the village's Police Board, which had no choice, accepted Peterson's resignation.

Chief Ray McGury filed a complaint with the Bolingbrook Fire and Police Commission Nov. 14 seeking disciplinary action against Peterson, who had been suspended without pay pending an internal investigation.

Peterson turned in a resignation letter Nov. 12, but McGury refused to accept it, wanting him held accountable for the internal investigation's findings.

"The board recognizes the seriousness of the charges presented by the chief," commission attorney Kathleen Elliott said, reading a statement. "Unfortunately, the board is without jurisdiction. ... Peterson's resignation was effective immediately when tendered, and therefore he is no longer a member of the Police Department and no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the board."

McGury said he would have "cherished the opportunity" to discuss the internal investigation with board members. He would not discuss the alleged violations, but said they occurred over a year and were serious enough to warrant termination.

Peterson, 53, has been at the center of law-enforcement and media attention since the Oct. 28 disappearance of his wife, Stacy Peterson, 23.

"The criminal justice system now has jurisdiction over this matter," Elliott said in a statement. "The board wishes to express its deep concern for Stacy Peterson, her family and friends, and awaits the results of the criminal investigation."

McGury said he will meet with State's Atty. James Glasgow to discuss the internal investigation. The department charges previously had been described as non-criminal, but the chief said Tuesday that some information in the report may warrant prosecution.

He also said without elaborating that investigators may want to review some cases Peterson handled.

Peterson did not attend the commission meeting Tuesday night, nor did anyone representing him. He has not been charged with any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing.

McGury said Drew Peterson's behavior has tainted the department, prompting numerous death threats toward the chief and accusations he is running a corrupt agency.

"In my mind, he's absolutely brought shame to this department," McGury said. "I wanted him fired."

Drew Peterson was suspended in September for a "serious lack of judgment" in a police pursuit, McGury said. Asked if Peterson was a good officer, McGury said: "Drew Peterson came to work, did his job and went home. Drew Peterson left the department not in good standing."

Last week, the Police Pension Board voted to give the 29-year veteran his $6,068 monthly pension, saying that Peterson met requirements and that state law prohibited the board from withholding the money.

Information learned in the state police search for Stacy Peterson has led Glasgow to reopen the investigation into the 2004 death of Drew Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, who drowned in her bathtub weeks before the financial terms of their divorce settlement were to be finalized.

Savio was found in her dry tub, her hair soaked with blood from a gash on her head. An autopsy determined the cause of death was drowning, and a coroner's jury ruled it an accident. But authorities now suspect she may have been knocked out elsewhere and placed in the tub. Savio's body was exhumed Nov. 13 for another autopsy.

State police have named Drew Peterson a suspect in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, and on Nov. 7 he exercised his 5th Amendment rights when he declined to testify before a grand jury investigating both cases, which also has subpoenaed friends, neighbors, family, records and co-workers.

On Tuesday, the Tribune learned that Harvey police officer Marcus Patterson also appeared before that grand jury Nov. 7. Patterson, 34, was a Bolingbrook police officer from October 1999 to April 2002 and worked on the department's Gang Suppression Unit, headed by Drew Peterson, Lt. Ken Teppel said.

Patterson declined to comment on what he told the grand jury.

State police did not search for Stacy Peterson Tuesday because of weather, and spokesman Luis Gutierrez said he did not know whether searches would resume Wednesday. Investigators will work the case on Thanksgiving, he said.

Meanwhile, her friends and relatives "are just trying to get through the holiday," said family spokeswoman Pam Bosco.

Stacy Peterson traditionally played host to a large Thanksgiving meal that included her sister Cassandra Cales, her father, Drew Peterson's family and friends.

Bosco said she's trying to persuade Cales to come to her house for the holiday. "She doesn't want to do anything. I can't stand to see her this way."

Members of Texas EquuSearch, which has led the volunteer searches, have gone home and made no plans to return.

"They were a great team. I didn't know how long they could stay," Bosco said. "They did bring a lot of energy and resources, so I'd never have anything negative to say about them. We have to work within our means and so did they."

Bosco said she was interviewed at length by investigators for the first time Monday.

"We want to find Stacy, but we have to be realistic," Bosco said.

She found Drew Peterson's growing media presence distasteful.

"This man doesn't take it seriously," she said. "The public is seeing that he is not a man concerned about his third wife being declared the victim of a homicide or that Stacy has disappeared. As long as he keeps showing this side, it's fine. Let him be a joke in front of the media."

Copyright 2007 The Chicago Tribune

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