Today’s Investigative Special Report August 21, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Will The Jury In The Peterson Case Exonerate Law Enforcement No Matter The Verdict?”

Law Enforcement Exploring
Law Enforcement Exploring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
How many investigations end up like the current criminal case involving Drew Peterson, a 58-year-old former Bolingbrook police officer, who has been charged with the death of his former wife Kathleen Savio who died in 2004? The question is far from simple and the answers to these questions will remain unanswered due to the possible incompetence and unintelligent investigative law enforcement officials.
It is difficult for law enforcement officials to investigate death cases which occur 24 hours ago. Since 2007 law enforcement began reinvestigating the Savio suspicious death. The physical, biological, and trace evidence which were potentially at the alleged crime scene in 2004 will never be recovered. The remaining evidence consists of photographs of Savio in her bathtub dead and of course her buried body.
If law enforcement ‘doesn’t do the investigation properly the first time’ the investigation will be tainted and contaminated from that point forward. The potential evidence which could have been located, identified, collected, stored, analyzed, and may have been used to connect to the possible perpetrator who may have been responsible for Savio’s death is gone.
Therefore, the new and eventual police investigation which focused on Peterson’s current wife, Stacy Peterson, who disappeared in 2007, triggered another look by law enforcement officials reference Savio’s death.
What clued law enforcement that something may be wrong in Bolingbrook was Peterson himself and his behavior.  His odd behavior tipped law enforcement to question at that time a Sergeant with the Chicago Police Department if the coincidence of one dead wife and one missing wife just didn’t seem to be a coincidence, but possibly murder in both cases.
Although Peterson has not been charged with Stacy’s death, the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit together, but it appears Peterson may have ultimately committed the perfect murder. Unfortunate for Peterson, Savio’s death was then reclassified from an accidental death to a homicide. Stacy is Peterson’s fourth wife.
So looking back to Savio’s death what went wrong once she was found dead in her bathtub by neighbors is conjecture as Peterson’s influence in the investigation has not been revealed to the point where his conduct was suspicious. Further, no one is stepping forward to say hey it was I or it was him or it was the crime scene technician and so forth whom purposely destroyed evidence, or failed to properly investigate the case because Peterson set-up these people to fail. These integral aspects of the case seem to have gone unnoticed or the current investigation couldn’t find facts or evidence to support such a hypothesis.
Rebuilding a murder case is like putting the pieces of a model airplane back together after the airplane fell off an eight foot shelf, breaking into pieces because the builder failed to protect the environment in which it was broken. The pieces of the plane no longer fit together due the incompetence of the builder to protect the airplane and then when trying to rebuild it to where it once was whole, the pieces just don’t seem to stick together with or without clue. The causation and responsibility is the last issue which is considered by those evaluating and examining the facts of what took place and why things happened i.e. the reason for the crash and broken pieces.
JOLIET, IL - JULY 31:  Pam Bosco, a friend and...
JOLIET, IL - JULY 31: Pam Bosco, a friend and spokesperson for the family of Stacy Peterson, the missing fourth wife of Drew Peterson, addresses the media during a recess in Peterson's murder trial outside the Will County Courthouse July 31, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. Opening arguments in Peterson's trial began today. Peterson, a former Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant is on trial for the murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio. Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of his Stacy Peterson. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Three years later in walks a new set of law enforcement officials to begin reconstructing the pieces of evidence and information that existed back in 2004. Memories of witnesses will have faded, possibly distorted, contaminated, or simply forgotten or one of the witness may blame Peterson for divorcing Savio, not being with her at the time of her accident, and a variety of other reasons for the degrading and confusing memory.
Witnesses all have a ‘motive’ when it comes to providing information about people, places, and things. The ‘motive’ may be good or there may be underlying issues which the witness will not disclose until the investigator confronts them. All witnesses want to believe they are valued and that their purpose for coming forward is a sense of duty and purpose. Generally, everyone has an opinion, a set of values and beliefs, which may be apparent or may be hidden so they may be seen as reliable and credible.
Most people understand that their memories about an event which occurred three years ago should have been more reliable and credible at the time of the event compared to today’s memories. The lay witness may have hearsay evidence which for the most part would be inadmissible but since the alleged victim is deceased the court may think the prosecutor’s argument is better than the defense attorney’s argument and under some exception of the law the judge allows the hearsay to be heard by a jury.
JOLIET, IL - JULY 31:  Joel Brodsky, attorney ...
JOLIET, IL - JULY 31: Joel Brodsky, attorney for Drew Peterson, returns to the Will County Courthouse following a recess in Peterson's murder trial July 31, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. Opening arguments in Peterson's trial began today. Peterson, a former Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant is on trial for the murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio. Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy Peterson. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Three years after Savio’s death her body was exhumed and a second autopsy was performed by Dr. Larry Blum and his conclusion was Savio was murdered. He based his findings on two key pieces of evidence. First, he did not agree that Savio had died in an accidental fall because she had a fresh gash on the back of her head; two, she had a pattern of deep bruises on the front of her body.
In court the defense cross-examined Dr. Blum and the legal pundits believe for the most part the defense was able to impeach much of his testimony.
The foundation of any investigation as mentioned above is that it must be conducted competently and intelligently. So what do these two words mean to a law enforcement official and then the community where the potential murder occurred?
Since the beginning of time, competent and intelligent individuals and groups could look at a set of circumstances and using logic and reason come to a conclusion i.e. a hypothesis which was based on facts, a thorough and complete analysis, that under these specific conditions this is probably how the incident occurred.
However, the conclusion that a crime might have been committed doesn’t stop with the final hypothesis that in deed a crime occurred. It is the strategy and structure of the next investigative steps that will determine the competency and intelligence of the investigation which took place that the ‘right things were done the first time’.
Investigating the crime using intuition, creativity, innovation, and simple common sense will make the difference if the crime will be solved i.e. if a crime occurred or not. It isn’t always simple, but if law enforcement officials find methods and techniques which have proven to be positive and successful in previous investigations then the community, courts, juries, and others who have a proprietary interests in the case will believe and be of the opinion that the investigative results are credible and reliable.
So what went wrong with the Savio death investigation? Did law enforcement officials perform an investigation which was credible and reliable or was it one mistake after another? The answers to these questions as stated above may never be known.
If the jury acquits Peterson in the current trial which has entered its third week, then there will be those who will believe he knew how to commit the perfect crime. If the jury finds Peterson guilty in the current trial then there will be those who will say he was finally caught for committing a crime he thought he had gotten away with.
Whatever the results, the arguments by the prosecution and defense will not be that far apart in their approach to what they teach the jury about what happened to Savio in 2004. The lesson is a death occurred, the police investigated it, and an autopsy was performed and ruled an accident.
However, after Peterson’s fourth wife disappeared, combined with the outlandish behavior by Peterson, the jury may be told by the prosecution, not by the defense, that one of their hypotheses is the first set of law enforcement officials i.e. from the first officer who arrived at Savio’s residence to the medical examiner who performed her autopsy got it wrong. Simply got it wrong.
Over the next week or two, the jury will continue to be educated reference what the collateral information says about who Peterson is, the motive for him to kill Savio, his previous statements to friends, family and others which date back to 2002, 2003, and 2004, which seemed innocuous at the time, but are now pointing to Peterson as the most likely villain.
JOLIET, IL - JULY 31:  Marcia and Henry Savio,...
JOLIET, IL - JULY 31: Marcia and Henry Savio, parents of Kathleen Savio, the murdered third wife of Drew Peterson, speak to the media as they return to court following a recess in Peterson's murder trial outside the Will County Courthouse July 31, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. Opening arguments in Peterson's trial began today. Peterson, a former Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant is on trial for the 2004 murder of Kathleen Savio. Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy Peterson. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
A final thought, pay close attention to what the strategy of the defense will be once the prosecution completes their case. The prosecution has scored their points against the defense. The question remaining is has the prosecution put forth enough information to prove that Peterson is guilty of first-degree murder of Savio or will the defense rehabilitate Peterson and prove him to be an innocent man.

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Lawrence W. Daly           
Puyallup, WA

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