While relatives and friends of missing Illinois housewife Stacy Peterson observed her 24th birthday this week with a solemn vigil, the main suspect in her disappearance — her husband — is going public with his desire to start dating.
“Stacy is not missing,” Drew Peterson’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer on Thursday. “Drew Peterson has said from day one — and he believes and he knows — that Stacy has run off with another man. He’s a single man. He’s raising his children the best he can. And he’s entitled to get on with his life. Stacy’s run off with another man, so she’s moved on with her life. Why should Drew be sitting in a dark room?”
Peterson remains the only suspect in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance on Oct. 28. Police are also re-examining the 2004 bathtub drowning death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, which was ruled accidental at the time.
Peterson has alternated between complaining about all the media attention that’s been focused on him and courting publicity. In addition to a number of television appearances, including the TODAY Show, he’s posed for the cover of People magazine. And this week, he and Brodsky called Steve Dahl’s popular morning radio show in Chicago to propose a “Win a Date With Drew” contest.
Lauer said that Peterson’s behavior calls to mind such adjectives as “absurd, outrageous, insensitive, callous” and asked how Peterson can be soliciting dates and sparring with a morning talk show host when his wife, the mother of two of his children, is missing.
“We know that Stacy abandoned her family and ran off like Stacy’s mom before her,” Brodsky said. “Stacy's mom did the same thing — ran off and abandoned her family. Stacy's done it, too.”
The lawyer said he and the former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant called the radio show because Dahl had been making daily comedic fodder of Peterson for months. Since trying to ignore it didn’t help, he and Peterson decided to call the show and address Dahl head-on.
“We saw it as a way to disarm Steve Dahl, who’s been doing probably an hour a day every single day of very harsh Drew Peterson impersonations,” Brodsky said. “We planned that if we called him and engaged him, that that may stop his continuing this bit of his.”
The dating contest, he added, was never meant to be serious, but Peterson’s efforts to renew his social life is. Chicago newspapers have reported that he has been approached by women in bars, and he said that one woman even left a note in his mailbox asking him to call her.
Peterson has been an official suspect in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance since Nov. 9. Her relatives have said that Peterson was controlling and abusive and that she feared for her life. And on Nov. 10, Stacy Peterson’s minister said that she had told him that her husband admitted killing his third wife.
Police have conducted extensive searches of surrounding areas and several bodies of water. A relative said he helped Peterson move a large blue barrel from Peterson’s house on the night that Stacy Peterson disappeared.
Brodsky and Peterson continue to contend that no body has been found because Stacy Peterson ran away with another man with whom she was having an affair.
“She took $25,000 in cash when she left, and if they left the country — she took her passport — it would be quite easy for them to disappear,” Brodsky told Lauer.
He added that he believes police are near the end of their investigation. “From what I understand, the case is winding down, and I believe the case is going cold.”
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