Cop Now Suspect In Missing Wife Case

This undated photo provided by her family shows Stacy Peterson, 23, of Bolingbrook, Ill., and her husband, Drew Peterson, 53, a police officer with the Bolingbrook Police Department. Stacy was reported missing on Oct. 29 and authorities on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007, classified the case as a missing person _ not criminal _ investigation. (AP Photo/Family of Stacy Peterson) **NO SALES**[Click image for details ]
AP/Family of Stacy Peterson
Authorities probing the disappearance of a police officer's wife said Friday he is now considered a suspect in a potential homicide investigation, and that the death of an ex-wife three years ago appeared to have been staged as an accidental drowning.

Formally re-opening the investigation into the death of Kathleen Siavo, authorities received court approval to exhume the body of Siavo, the ex-wife of Bolingbrook Sgt. Drew Peterson, as they continued the search for his wife, Stacy, who was last seen Oct. 29.

Illinois State Police Capt. Carl Dobrich said Peterson, 53, has moved from being a person of interest in the disappearance of his 23-year-old wife to "clearly being a suspect."

Dobrich also said the case was now a potential homicide investigation.

Peterson was relieved of duty, effective immediately, and placed on suspension without pay pending the completion of an internal affairs investigation and hearing, according to a press release issued by Bolingbrook police.

"We have mixed emotions right now," said Pamela Bosco, Stacy Peterson's adoptive stepmother. "We're sad, but we needed to move on, and this is something we've needed to hear for a long time."

Peterson has said Stacy Peterson phoned him and told him she had left him for another man. His attorney, Fred Morelli, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The family of Stacy Peterson, who was studying nursing at a nearby junior college, has said she feared her husband, was making plans to divorce him and would not have willingly left her children, ages 2 and 4.

The body of Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found in the bathtub in 2004, her hair soaked in blood from a head wound. A coroner's jury ruled the 40-year-old's death was an accidental drowning, even though there was no water in the bathtub. Investigators had theorized the water had drained out.

In a petition filed Friday listing the reasons authorities want to exhume Savio's body, prosecutors said a review of evidence in the case "is consistent with the 'staging' of an accident to conceal a homicide."

"The one-inch gash in the back of Kathleen Savio's head did not render her unconscious, which would have been necessary for her to accidentally drown in the bathtub," the petition stated.

Prosecutors said they reviewed photographs of the crime scene and autopsy, the autopsy protocol and police reports.

Will County Circuit Court Judge Daniel J. Rozak signed the petition granting the exhumation Friday. It was not immediately clear when the body would be exhumed.

No charges were filed in Savio's death, but "at the very least, her death should have been ruled 'undetermined,"' Will County Coroner Patrick O'Neil said earlier this week.

Savio's niece, Melissa Marie Doman, said relatives have long suspected that Savio didn't drown accidentally.

"I am all for it, along with the rest of my family, because something just was never right," said Doman. "I can't really say who, but someone did something. I don't think it was an accident."

Savio had gotten an order of protection in 2002, alleging a pattern of physical abuse and threats, according to court records. Drew Peterson has denied involvement with his ex-wife's death.

Meanwhile, search crews continue to look for Stacy Peterson, and are asking for more volunteers.

"Today the search will continue, and tomorrow if we don't find anything today," search team member Lisa Loper told CBS Station WBBM correspondent Rafael Romo. "But we're also in great need of food and drinks for the volunteers."

As part of the search on Friday, volunteers will be using a powerful sonar boat in the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal, and a number of lakes yet to be determined.

Sonar boat owner Dennis Watters explained how he intends to help in the search.

"God forbid that she's in a lake or whatever," Watters said. "If she's in there, we will see her body. If we run across a car we see a car, we see boats."

Gary Peterson is a member of Equusearch, a volunteer organization from Texas helping in the search for Stacy Peterson. He said they will bring in a drone Friday afternoon that will be flying in the marshy area near Lemont.

"Each morning I pick three of four target areas, target priority areas that we want to search and we assign people and they go out and they search these pieces of property," Peterson said.