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Brown: If not for Stacy’s disappearance, Drew Peterson would be free

Restaurateur Jeff Ruby (left) talks with Elwood resident Bobby Hauert (right) as jury deliberates during Drew Petersmurder trial Will County

Restaurateur Jeff Ruby (left) talks with Elwood resident Bobby Hauert (right) as the jury deliberates during the Drew Peterson murder trial at the Will County Courthouse Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Joliet. Hauert said his sister was murdered in 1996 and her husband was acquitted of the murder. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 9, 2012 2:51PM

For a guy who bragged he knew how to kill somebody and get away with it, Drew Peterson overlooked one important detail:

If you kill your wife, you’d better take extra good care of the next one.

As we salute the guilty verdict from the Will County jury that thankfully came to understand the meaning of “unanimous,” I would never want to lose sight of the fact that Peterson really did get away with the 2004 murder of third wife Kathleen Savio, whose death was ruled an accident at the time.

It wasn’t until Peterson suffered the grave misfortune of his fourth wife, Stacy, up and disappearing on him in 2007 that the former Bolingbrook cop even faced a serious investigation.

Before that, Peterson was home free. There was no open case file, no veteran homicide detective obsessing over Kathleen Savio’s death and fighting to re-open the investigation.

If Stacy stays healthy and happy, Peterson is on the street today with only Savio’s family members harboring their suspicions.

But Stacy wasn’t happy. And now she’s gone.

Poor Drew. The man has such terrible luck with wives. Savio drowns in the bathtub. Stacy skips town without a trace. It’s a miracle that ex-wives one and two are still breathing.

The guilty verdict brings a significant measure of vindication for State’s Attorney James Glasgow and his prosecution team, which took grief here and elsewhere for courtroom missteps that created the threat of a mistrial. Glasgow was not in office at the time of Savio’s death but reopened the investigation after Peterson disappeared.

In the end, as Glasgow predicted, the circumstantial evidence against Peterson was so overwhelming that jurors were able to overcome the doubts that must have been there in a case with no scientific or eyewitness evidence linking him to the crime scene.

It was in November 2007 that I joined one of the volunteer teams tromping through a wooded area near Bolingbrook to ostensibly search for Stacy.

At that point, she’d been missing for so long that even though we were told we were searching for Stacy, it was obvious that we were really looking for Stacy’s body — just nobody came right out and said so.

A woman wrote indignantly to me afterward that she preferred to believe Stacy would be found alive, perhaps wandering in the woods in a daze. I assume she knows better by now.

Prior to Stacy going missing in 2007, there had been similar search parties in Will County earlier that year for Lisa Stebic, a Plainfield mom who also disappeared without explanation.

Just as in the case of Stacy Peterson, no charges have ever been filed in connection with Stebic’s disappearance.

It’s scary to realize, especially for women, but sometimes men really do get away with murder. And sometimes they are just unlucky in love.

Drew Peterson pushed his luck.

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