Drew Peterson offered $25,000 to ‘take care of’ third wife: witness
BY DAN ROZEK AND JANET LUNDQUIST Staff Reporters August 22, 2012 10:04AM
Drew Peterson's attorneys (from left to right) Lisa Lopez, Joel Brodsky and Joseph Lopez address the media during a press conference during lunch break during the Drew Peterson murder trial at the Will County Courthouse Tuesday, August 21, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
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Drew Peterson asked for two things: a hitman to “take care of” his ex-wife and enough warning so he could cover his tracks, former co-worker Jeffrey Pachter said.
“He wanted to make sure he had an alibi,” Pachter testified Wednesday at Peterson’s murder trial, introducing the long-disputed claim that the former Bolingbrook cop tried to hire someone to kill Kathleen Savio.
During a late-night ride in a squad car, Peterson offered Pachter $25,000 to “find someone to take care’’ of his third wife, then began discussing the best way to hide his own involvement, Pachter said.
The options Peterson mentioned during their November 2003 conversation included arranging a vacation so he’d be out of the country, or taking a simpler step — getting into a fight at the Six Flags-Great America theme park so there’d be a police report indicating he’d been there, Pachter testified.
The purported conversation occurred only a few months before the 40-year-old Savio was found drowned in her bathtub on March 1, 2004.
The 58-year-old Peterson is fighting charges he killed his former wife in an effort to keep her from getting a cut of his police pension and other financial assets in their divorce settlement.
Outside the courtroom, Peterson’s attorneys ridiculed Pachter’s claims.
“It’s an absolute fabrication by a guy with absolutely no credibility,” Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky said, citing Pachter’s record as a convicted sex offender and tax delinquent.
“We punched a lot of holes in his story,” defense attorney Joe Lopez chimed in.
Pachter’s claims highlighted a day of testimony that also saw an Illinois State Police trooper tell jurors he immediately suspected Savio’s death could be a murder rather than an accident, but that his superiors didn’t seem interested in his concerns.
Master Sgt. Bryan Falat said his bosses also ignored his objections to letting Peterson sit next to his fourth wife, Stacy, while she was questioned by investigators about Savio’s death.
“We never interview two people in the same room,” Falat said.
Savio’s death initially was classified as an accident. It was re-investigated and labeled a murder in 2007 only after Stacy Peterson disappeared from the Bolingbrook house she shared with Peterson.
Questioned by Lopez about what seemed suspicious about Savio’s death, Falat said there was an obvious problem.
“We found someone deceased in a bathtub with no water, so that raised my suspicions right away,” answered Falat, who nonetheless estimated he and his partner spent only about 30 minutes in the house after Savio’s body was discovered before leaving to interview neighbors.
For his part, Pachter admitted he didn’t know whether Peterson’s offer to find a hitman was serious, saying his expression and voice never changed as he talked about the proposed deal.
“You couldn’t tell — his demeanor never changed — if he was serious or not,” said Pachter, now 38.
Pachter said Peterson apparently approached him because he worked as a cable TV installer in a tough section of Joliet frequented by drug dealers and gang members.
Peterson, then a Bolingbrook police sergeant, knew Pachter because Peterson moonlighted at the same cable company, Pachter testified.
Not long after Peterson rejected Pachter’s request for a $1,000 loan to pay off a gambling debt, Peterson offered him a chance to make more money, Pachter claimed.
“He would give me $25,000 and if I could find someone who would do it for less, I could keep the balance,” Pachter said as Peterson watched him intently from across the courtroom.
Peterson didn’t give him a picture of Savio or tell him specifically where she lived, but named the local restaurant where Savio worked, Pachter said.
And Peterson didn’t offer a specific reason for wanting Savio slain, Pachter said.
“He said his wife had something on him,” Pachter testified, adding Peterson complained Savio also was “bugging him” over several different issues.
Pachter said he never took any steps to recruit anyone to harm Savio, nor did he contact police after the purported offer. He only talked to state police investigators in November 2007 after they contacted him, Pachter said.
Before Pachter left Peterson’s squad car after hearing his offer, Peterson warned him not to talk about their discussion.
“This is something you will take to your grave,” Pachter claims Peterson told him.