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Fatal Vows
The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson
By Joseph Hosey
Phoenix Books
HC, 320 pgs. US$25.95
ISBN: 1-5977-7606-8

Searching for Stacy

By Steven Martinovich
web posted October 6, 2008

Fatal VowsIn October 2007, the curious case of Stacy Peterson came to international attention. Peterson was young, pretty and missing, the type that the media lately seems attracted to. According to her husband, the older and retired police sergeant Drew Peterson, Stacy – his fourth wife – had abandoned her children and run off with another man for parts unknown. Searchers combed Bolingbrook, the Chicago suburb the Petersons called home, to no avail. Though her husband seemed entranced by the media attention, the story seemed destined to eventually die off.

As Joseph Hosey relates in Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson a twist in the story revived it. Long suspicious of Drew Peterson, authorities decided to re-open the investigation into the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. In February of this year, a second autopsy was held on her body with the new finding that her death was ruled a homicide. It seemed that half of Drew Peterson's wives had ended up either dead or missing.

Hosey is well placed to write this still to be completed story. A reporter for the Herald News, which covers the suburban Chicago beat, Hosey reported extensively on the Peterson case and covered the inquest into Savio's death. He was granted access to many of the major figures in the case and even interviewed Drew Peterson several times. Marshalling all of this together, Josey paints a very disturbing picture of the man who has thrust himself into the public eye.

Drew Peterson has had by most accounts an unusual life. He has found himself in and out of trouble with the law repeatedly, despite being a police officer, and yet has somehow managed to mostly evade any serious repercussions for his behavior. He fancies himself a ladies' man; he cheated on nearly all of his wives and entertained Stacy in the same house he shared with Savio without her knowledge, and even with his current infamy has attracted the attention of women. He is simultaneously respected for his work with a narcotics squad but disliked by superiors for actions which risked discrediting him and the police force.

Stacy Peterson's life was, unfortunately, more usual and tragic, reports Hosey. Her mother left at an early age – evidence, said Drew Peterson, of his wife's proclivity to flee her family – and Stacy seemed on the road to a lifetime of poverty and unhappiness. Her marriage to the much older and apparently stable Drew Peterson must have seemed a miracle until the reality slowly dawned on her that her husband was a controlling personality who seemed to treat a wife more like an accessory than a human being.

Hosey interviews a wide range of people, mostly unsympathetic to Drew Peterson. His next door neighbor clearly believes he is guilty and has mounted a campaign to keep the pressure on him. A psychologist explains Peterson's bizarre behavior after his wife's disappearance proves his guilt. Stacy Peterson's family relates the times she feared for her life, telling them that if something happened to suspect her husband. Hosey even interviews the Bolingbrook police chief who mounts an effective defense as to why his department was not at fault for the botched Savio and Peterson investigations.

While Hosey tries to be as balanced as possible, Fatal Vows makes it quite clear that he believes Drew Peterson's claims to be as ridiculous as the public does. That's not a flaw, however, as he has clearly embarked on a quest for justice in the death of Savio and the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, and justice demands an active opinion. The mysteries surrounding these two women may never be solved but Hosey should be thanked for giving voice to the voiceless and inspire others to try and find the truth. ESR

Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

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