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Prosecutors reveal 'hit man' in Peterson case
Stacy's sister also describes her fear
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

An undated photo provided by her family shows Stacy Peterson, 23, right, of Bolingbrook, with her younger sister Cassandra Cales. Peterson, the wife of Drew Peterson, a former sergeant with the Bolingbrook Police Department, was reported missing Oct. 29, 2007.

 

Drew Peterson

 

Stacy and Drew Peterson, pictured with their two children and the former Bolingbrook police sergeant's two older sons from his previous marriage to third wife Kathleen Savio. Peterson is facing murder charges in Savio's death, and is the only suspect in his fourth wife, Stacy's disappearance.

 

Associated Press

Cassandra Cales, left, with her older sister, Stacy Peterson, before her October 2007 disappearance. Cales testified Thursday that Stacy feared her husband, Drew, and wanted a divorce.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 1/28/2010 12:37 PM | Updated: 1/28/2010 10:27 PM

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Timeline in Drew Peterson investigation

March 1, 2004: The body of Drew Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, 40, is discovered in a bathtub in her Bolingbrook home. Her death is initially ruled an accidental drowning.

Oct. 29, 2007: His fourth wife, Stacy, 23, is reported missing, a day after she fails to show up at a family member's home.

Nov. 9, 2007: Illinois State Police declare Drew Peterson a suspect in Stacy's disappearance and announce they've launched an investigation into Savio's drowning death. A Will County judge signs an order to exhume Savio's body.

Nov. 12, 2007: Drew Peterson resigns from the Bolingbrook Police Department, where he had been an officer for nearly three decades.

Nov. 13, 2007: Savio's body is exhumed for a second autopsy.

Nov. 16, 2007: Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden says Savio likely was murdered.

Nov. 21, 2007: A special Will County grand jury is convened to hear evidence in both cases involving Savio and Stacy Peterson.

Feb. 21, 2008: Kathleen Savio's death officially ruled a homicide.

May 21, 2008: Drew Peterson surrenders to police on a weapons charge unrelated to the disappearance of his fourth wife.

Nov. 20, 2008: Gun charges dropped against Peterson after Will County prosecutors refuse to hand over internal investigative documents.

May 7, 2009: Drew Peterson indicted on two counts of first-degree murder for Savio's death; peacefully surrenders during a traffic stop. Peterson remains jailed on $20 million bond.

Oct. 2, 2009: Will Circuit Judge Stephen White upholds new state law that allows Savio beyond-the-grave hearsay evidence at trial if later deemed reliable.

Jan. 19, 2010: A landmark hearsay court hearing is scheduled to begin in which prosecutors lay out their evidence against Peterson in Savio's death.

Source: Daily Herald archives

Jeffrey Pachter may be the "worst hit man" in history.

But his allegation that Drew Peterson offered him $25,000 to kill ex-wife Kathleen Savio could prove explosive if allowed at the upcoming murder trial.

Pachter testified Thursday the former Bolingbrook police sergeant made the proposal in late 2003 while moonlighting on his off hours at a cable company where they both worked.

Pachter said he handled Joliet's gritty east side, known for gang and drug activity, and had recently hit up Peterson for a $1,000 loan to pay off a gambling debt amid his own marital woes.

"He asked me, because of the area I worked in, if I knew of anybody who could have his third wife taken care of," Pachter said.

"He told me that he wanted to know when it would be done so he could have an alibi."

Pachter, 35, told Will Circuit Judge Stephen White he didn't take Peterson's one-time offer seriously, beyond a simple "OK" response, and never pursued it further.

His testimony came during the seventh day of Peterson's pretrial hearing to determine if such hearsay statements are reliable enough to be allowed when he stands trial in Savio's 2004 bathtub drowning in her Bolingbrook home.

Pachter said he hadn't heard about the 40-year-old woman's death until he telephoned Peterson months later to ask about the sergeant's fourth wife, Stacy, and their new baby.

Pachter said Peterson said during the call, "By the way, the favor that I asked you, I don't need it anymore."

Prosecutors also are trying to introduce incriminating statements family, friends and co-workers say were made by Savio and 23-year-old Stacy before she vanished Oct. 28, 2007. Peterson, 56, has not been charged in her disappearance.

Cassandra Cales testified Stacy, her older sister, told her 48 hours before her disappearance that she feared she would not survive her attempt to divorce Peterson, who monitored his much younger wife's every phone call and movement.

"She just looked at me with this blank face," Cales said. "She said she feared for her life and that if anything ever happened to her, Drew did something to her."

At times tearful, Cales described a close relationship with Stacy and admitted her disdain for Peterson.

Cales said she and Stacy traded up to two dozen text messages daily and hung out that Friday and Saturday the weekend Stacy was last seen.

"I said, 'Let's get out of here,'" Cales testified. "She said she couldn't; she had the kids. She said he was basically above her because he had the job. She told me she wanted to go about it the legal way and do everything right.

"She didn't want any of his money. She just wanted her kids to get away from him and get a restraining order."

Cales read their last text exchange, shortly after 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, as the two said good night. Cales said Stacy wrote: "I'll call you if I can't sleep, but I'm going to try now. Good Night. Sweet Dreams."

Cales responded: "Ditto."

That was their last correspondence.

She reported Stacy missing about 24 hours later. She said Drew Peterson told her Stacy called him to say she left him for another man, taking $25,000, her passport and other financial papers.

"He said one minute we're having wild, passionate sex and the next minute she wants to run away like your mom," Cales testified, referring to their mother's 1998 disappearance.

So far, prosecutors have called about 30 witnesses.

The defense team often grills them on their credibility, raising such issues as criminal history, substance abuse, and bias.

For example, Pachter is a convicted sex offender.

According to Pachter's testimony, the defense noted, Peterson never provided the "hit man" with Savio's name, physical description or address.

"Drew is a jokester. He's always kidding around with people," said defense attorney Joel Brodsky, who described Pachter as the "worst hit man" in history if his "ridiculous" story were true.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.