Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Cold Case Already?
by Libby Hellmann
I had that feeling of helplessness and outrage when I read this article the other day. Apparently, the disappearance of Stacy Peterson is now a cold case. For those of you not in Chicago, Stacy Peterson was the fourth wife of former Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson. She disappeared almost a year ago (hard to believe it’s been that long) after telling friends she wanted to leave him and that if she were found dead, it would be no accident.
The problem is she hasn’t been found. There is no body. Peterson claims she told him she was leaving him, but her friends and family say she would never have abandoned her two small children. Rumors implicating Peterson (vicious arguments between the two, a sudden silence, barrels being taken out of the house during the wee hours, and other tantalizing circumstantial evidence) swirled, but nothing stuck. Peterson was further implicated when it was discovered that his third wife died “accidentally” in the bathtub after their marriage fell apart. Her body was exhumed, and experts decided her death was a homicide after all.
Still, nothing stuck. Peterson waged a sleazy media campaign, alternating between victim and clown. Among other things He went on the TODAY show twice, avoided direct answers, taunted reporters, and generally made an ass of himself. In fact, he looked like he was enjoying all the attention. Which, given the fact that he’s known to be narcissistic, controlling, and aggressive, isn’t surprising.
What is is that a year after Stacy’s disappearance, he’s still around, complaining now of being a single father, and making ends meet. Yes, he was stripped of being a police officer, and yes, he’s been convicted of illegal gun possession which might put him behind bars for a few years. And yes, he’s considered the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, but he hasn’t been charged with either wife’s demise.
Which means that -- so far – he’s gotten away with it.
And that makes me mad. I realize the police need to work slowly. I know they want to build a meticulous case. I know that it takes overwhelming forensics to sway a jury these days. Still, I get the feeling Drew Peterson is almost daring police to indict him. And I’m frustrated enough to ask why we shouldn’t take him up on it. What would happen if a really good prosecutor got the guy on the stand, and caught him in enough inconsistencies to make a difference? What are the stakes? What point is served by letting him remain out here, spinning his self-serving lies? That he’d get off? That double jeopardy would apply if he did?
I guess I’m asking what the blood-boiling factor is. Mine’s pretty high. I can hardly look at the man any more. It’s hard for me to read articles about him. I need someone to tell me it’s all going to work out. That justice will ultimately be served. But after a year, I don’t know any more. Maybe that just happens in the fiction we write. As Rachel Maddow says on her new TV show, I need someone to “talk me down.”