Six days before Kathleen Savio's lifeless body was found in an empty bathtub in her Bolingbrook home, Drew Peterson's lawyer prepared papers telling his client he had been subpoenaed and was to be deposed in his ongoing divorce battle.
Peterson, indicted last week on murder charges in Savio's 2004 drowning, stood to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in the divorce from the sale of the couple's home and Sud's Pub, his Montgomery bar, according to court documents reviewed by the Tribune. Savio was also going after half of his police pension, which pays $6,000 a month.
Instead of losing a bundle, Peterson got just about everything after Savio's death, including custody of their two children.
The Tribune has learned the Will County state's attorney's office is conducting a closer examination of the divorce and what was at stake as it prepares for the prosecution of Peterson, scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Harry Smith, the attorney who was representing Savio in her divorce , said this week he has turned over to prosecutors the subpoenas he had issued to Peterson regarding his pension and other financial matters.
Smith, who twice testified before the grand jury investigating Savio's death, said it's his understanding that the county has hired financial experts to determine exactly what the economic loss to Peterson would have been. A state's attorney's spokesman declined to comment.
"I'm sure that's what Peterson feared -- mostly that she was going to take everything from him," said Sue Doman, Savio's sister.
Savio, 40, was found dead March 1, 2004. She and Peterson were already divorced, but the trial to settle the distribution of marital assets and child-custody issues was scheduled for April 6, according to records.
Joel Brodsky, Peterson's attorney, said he wasn't worried about the examination of his client's divorce. "That's a very weak motive because half the people in America get divorced. So that means almost half the people in America have motive to commit murder," he said. "It's not the strongest motive you're ever going to come up with."
Brodsky said he believes the prosecution's case hinges on the state's new hearsay law -- sometimes called Drew's Law -- which allows certain types of hearsay evidence into court.
After Savio drowned, Peterson submitted a handwritten will signed by him and Savio specifying that in death all assets would go to the surviving spouse and appointing Peterson's uncle James Carroll as executor. All proceeds from Savio's estate -- valued at up to $288,000, according to court documents -- were handed to Peterson.
A court-appointed public estate administrator later wrote that Carroll's actions "were not in the best interests of the Estate or its beneficiaries," and noted that almost all of Savio's personal belongings had been removed from the home prior to the administrator's appointment in April, one month after her death.
The fight over personal property began shortly after the two filed for divorce within a day of each other in March 2002. Two months later, Savio was about to leave her home and take her two children to Communion practice at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bolingbrook when she discovered her 1997 Mercury Mountaineer was missing, according to a court filing.
Peterson called and told her if she didn't let him into the house to retrieve his water bed and other belongings, "she wouldn't be able to find" the Mercury. He broke a court order by removing items from the home, Savio alleged, asking that a judge find him in contempt.
Doman said the fighting over assets wore on her sister. "You could see a big change in her. I can see her face, and she was physically, mentally worn out," Doman said. "It was a long fight for her."
Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant and 29-year police veteran, was already married to his fourth wife, Stacy, when Savio was killed. Although state police concluded at the time that her death was not suspicious -- Stacy Peterson provided Peterson's alibi, according to police reports -- State's Atty. James Glasgow reopened the investigation after Stacy disappeared in October 2007.
Smith had subpoenaed Peterson regarding his police pension. Doman said Savio was going for half of it.
Several months after Savio died, Peterson replaced his divorce attorney, Alex Beck, with Joseph Mazzone, a former Will County prosecutor who is chief counsel for a police union. Beck, who did not return phone calls for this story, filed paperwork seeking to have his expenses repaid, including for work on the deposition and subpoena shortly before Savio's death.
Drew Peterson and Savio's home sold in November 2004, netting $287,000. Savio was entitled to at least half of it, if not more, her attorney argued, because Peterson had sold the Montgomery bar for $325,000 during their divorce and pocketed the proceeds himself, according to the administrator's report.
According to Savio's divorce petition, she wanted sole custody of the children, child support, alimony and equitable distribution of their marital assets, or whatever the judge deemed just. In Peterson's petition, he simply requested that their shared assets be divided up. She accused him of adultery; he blamed her for extreme and mental cruelty.
Between Savio, Drew Peterson and Stacy Peterson, Bolingbrook police were called 19 times in nearly two years to settle disputes, some of which were physical.
Stacy contacted Smith, Savio's divorce attorney, sometime in late 2007 to discuss filing for divorce from Peterson. Stacy disappeared shortly afterward.
Peterson, the suspect in Stacy's disappearance, is being held in lieu of $20 million bail. He has denied wrongdoing.
Drew Peterson's divorce battle with Kathleen Savio investigated
Peterson stood to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, court documents say
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