The night Stacy Peterson went missing, her police officer husband’s stepbrother confided to a close friend that he believed he had just helped dispose of the 23-year-old woman’s body, the friend said Friday on TODAY.
The stepbrother, Tom Morphey, so feared Drew Peterson and was so distraught that he might have helped Peterson remove his wife’s body from the couple’s Bolingbrook, Ill., home that he tried to take his own life two days later, according to Morphey’s friend, Kevin Martinek Jr.
“His eyes were sunken in the back of his head,” Martinek told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira in describing Morphey’s appearance at his home shortly before 11 p.m. on Oct. 28.
“He took me by the shoulders, told me I can’t say anything. He told me that he thinks he helped dispose of Stacy’s body. What he told me [was] when he had helped Drew take something out of the house, it was warm to the touch,” Martinek said.
Asked what sort of object Morphey said he helped move, Martinek replied, “It was a blue container; a sealed blue container. He didn’t use the word ‘barrel.’ ”
According to volunteers helping the police and FBI agents searching for Stacy Peterson, they were told to be especially alert to a blue barrel or container.
Martinek said that Peterson dropped Morphey off at his house after they put the barrel into Peterson’s SUV. It was then, about 9:45 p.m., that Martinek said Morphey called, asking if he could come to Martinek’s home to talk.
Two days later, Morphey tried to commit suicide and was hospitalized. “He was just afraid of his family’s life, his life, so he made that decision to try to do something,” Martinek said of the suicide attempt. “I told him not to do it, don’t be a coward, which he’s not. He’s actually the hero.”
Martinek said that everybody in a neighborhood he described as close-knit has been afraid of Peterson. “Drew’s a very powerful person, and he could do anything, from what I was told,” he said.
Peterson, 53, has not been charged with any crime and has repeatedly insisted that he does not know what became of his fourth wife. Police recently exhumed the body of Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, and authorities are reconsidering a coroner’s determination in 2004 that her death in a bathtub was by accidental drowning.
Defending a friend
Martinek, 40, is speaking out publicly for the first time since Stacy Peterson disappeared from her home. He said he agreed to appear on TODAY because he was distressed by the way Morphey has been portrayed by Peterson’s attorney, Joel Brodsky.
During an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Thursday, the attorney, Brodsky, had said of Morphey: “This man has multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, is a habitual alcoholic. He's simply not a credible witness because he has been hospitalized for mental health problems on several occasions and has had problems with alcohol.”
“That happened, that’s the past,” Martinek told Vieira. “We’re in the present now. The present is our future. He’s laid-back, plays with his kids in the yard.”
Vieira asked if Morphey could have made up such a wild story.
“No, not one bit,” Martinek said. “He’s a down-to-earth person. He’ll give you the shirt off his back. I can’t say nothing bad about him. His past is his past. From when I moved into the neighborhood six years ago, I’ve never seen no problems whatsoever.”
Asked why Morphey would help Peterson, Martinek speculated that it may have been because when a family member asks for help with something, that’s what you do. He also said that Morphey had lost his job and may have needed whatever money Peterson might have offered him to help move the container.