Witness: Drew Peterson Planned Amusement Park Fight For Murder Alibi
One of Drew Peterson's former co-workers laid out the accused wife-killer's alleged scheme for covering his tracks, and it involved a trip to Great America.
Drew Peterson wanted a heads-up after his third wife's murder had been arranged so he could get into a fight at an amusement park, one of the accused-killer's former co-workers testified on Wednesday.
The co-worker, Jeffrey Pachter, related how Peterson wanted time to get to Great America amusement park in Gurnee and, once there, how he planned to pick a fight with someone to make sure he did not go unnoticed.
As an alternative to the amusement park alibi, Pachter said, Peterson considered leaving the country and staying on foreign soil while third wife Kathleen Savio was rubbed out.
Peterson, 58, and Pachter, 38, worked together for a Downers Grove cable television contractor. Peterson was also a Bolingbrook cop and curried favor with Pachter by running a background check on his co-worker and figuring out a misdemeanor sex crime conviction was labeled as a felony, according to testimony.
Pachter was able to get the bureaucratic mix-up straightened out, he said, but asked Peterson for more help in the way of a loan to pay of a $1,000 gambling debt.
Peterson refused the loan, he said, but then offered Pachter money to orchestrate Savio's murder.
Pachter said Peterson hatched the scheme while taking him along for a ride in his squad car in late 2003. During the ride, he said, Peterson "asked if I could find somebody to take care of his third wife."
"He told me she had a drug problem and worked at Red Lobster," Pachter recalled, telling how Peterson confided that Savio had something on him and was going to the police about it.
Pachter said Peterson offered him $25,000, and if he could find someone to do the job for cheaper than that, he could keep the difference.
"He told me at the end of the ride-along, he said this is something you'll take to the grave," Pachter said.
Just months later, in March 2004, Savio turned up drowned in a dry bathtub. During a telephone conversation following her death, Pachter said, Peterson told him, “By the way, that favor I asked you, I don’t need it anymore."
Defense attorney Joseph "Shark" Lopez repeatedly accused Pachter of lying. He also established that Pachter has never actually killed anyone before and that he is not a "hit man" in the "Chicago outfit."
Lopez went on to accuse of Pachter of conspiring with Ric Mims—another of Peterson's friends who was living with the disgraced ex-cop in the days following the mysterious disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson—to commit insurance fraud.
Pachter denied the insurance fraud allegation, but did say he helped Mims beat a drug test. Pachter also admitted to owing the IRS $35,000 after Lopez derisively asked, "You can't even pay your taxes, can you?"
Also Wednesday, Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Bryan Falat discussed the investigation of Savio's death and the curious decision of his supervisor to allow Peterson to sit next to Stacy when she was questioned.
"I told Sgt. (Patrick) Collins that I didn't think it was a good idea," said Falat, who at the time of Savio's death was a state trooper temporarily assigned to the the investigations division.
"We never interview two people in the same room," said Falat, who also told of Collins allowing Peterson to be questioned in the lunchroom of the Bolingbrook Police Department.
One of Savio's doctors, Vinod Motiani, was called to the stand to discuss her health and a young man who lives in the house next-door to the one she died in also testified.
The neighbor, Nick Pontarelli, was 14 when Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub. He called her his "second mother" and told of the shock he felt when he, his parents, and another neighbor discovered her corpse in the tub.
Peterson had asked the Pontarellis and the other neighbor to go inside Savio's house and look for her after she hadn't answered her door or telephone for two days.
In the middle of Pontarelli's testimony, one of the jurors, a 22-year-old Columbia College student who lives in Bolingbrook with his parents, informed the bailiff that he knows the witness.
The juror, Judge Edward Burmila and all the attorneys involved in the case retired to a conference room to sort the matter out. When they returned to the courtroom, the man was allowed to remain on the jury.
Testimony in the case will continue Thursday. Harry Smith, the Wheaton attorney who handled Savio's divorce from Peterson and claims he was told by Stacy that Peterson killed his third wife, may be called in the morning.
Peterson's attorneys argued about what Smith can say from the witness stand. Defense lawyer Joel Brodsky said there is a "privilege issue" and that Burmila is going to order Smith to disclose information shared by Savio while she was his client.
If Smith does not divulge the statements made by Savio, Brodsky said, he will not get to testify.