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Drew Peterson Trial: Pastor testifies Stacy Peterson was scared, told him she lied to police

Drew Peterson leaves the Will County Jail in his attorney's car after posting bail for a felony weapons charge May 21, 2008, in Joliet, Illinois. Scott Olson

Drew Peterson leaves the Will County Jail in his attorney's car after posting bail for a felony weapons charge May 21, 2008 in Joliet, Illinois.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
(CBS/AP) JOLIET, Ill. - A pastor told jurors Thursday at Drew Peterson's murder trial that the former suburban Chicago police officer's fourth wife once told him that Peterson got up from their bed around the time of his third wife's death, left the house and didn't return until early morning.

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Rev. Neil Schori recounted Stacy Peterson's description of events surrounding Kathleen Savio's March 2004 death. Prosecutors contend Drew Peterson killed Savio, 40, because he feared a settlement after their divorce would ruin him. Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Peterson's fourth wife spoke to Schori - a counseling minister at Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook at the time - for two hours at a Starbucks in the late summer of 2007. That was just months before Stacy Peterson vanished, prompting authorities to re-examine Savio's death, which was initially ruled an accident.

"She was very scared," Schori said about Stacy Peterson, who was 30 years younger than her husband.

She pulled her legs up and hugged her knees, Schori said, as she told him that Drew Peterson also warned her police would approach her to interview her and that she should lie to investigators. Drew Peterson spent hours walking her through what she should say to police, Schori said. And he said she did lie to investigators in the days after Savio's body was found in a dry bathtub at her home, just blocks from where Drew Peterson was living with Stacy at the time.

Schori did not go into any detail about what that lie was, but it apparently involved Peterson's alibi.

Schori said Stacy Peterson described to him how she and Drew Peterson had gone to bed together but that she woke up in the middle of the night with him no longer by her side. She searched the house and even called her husband's cellphone, but no one answered.

He didn't reappear until dawn.

"She saw him standing near the washer and dryer ... dressed in all black and carrying a bag," Schori told jurors. "She said that he removed his clothing and took the content of the bag and put all of that into the washing machine."

When her husband walked away, she peeked in the washer. What she saw, Schori said, were women's clothes that weren't hers.

Prosecutors suspect Drew Peterson killed his fourth wife partly because she knew too much about Savio's death, but he has never been charged in her case. The judge has prohibited prosecutors from mentioning to jurors that authorities presume Stacy Peterson is dead.

Authorities initially believed Savio's death resulted from a freak slip in the tub. Her body was exhumed and her death reclassified as a homicide after Stacy Peterson went missing.

Complete coverage of the Drew Peterson case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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