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New Autopsy Details: Drew Peterson's 3rd Wife Fought for Her Life

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Photo: Drew Peterson

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS/AP) Kathleen Savio, the third wife of former police officer Drew Peterson, struggled with her killer, a pathologist concluded in autopsy notes recently obtained by CNN.

Peterson, the ex-cop from Bolingbroook, Illinois, is charged with first-degree murder in Savio's 2004 death. She was found dead in her bathtub shortly before her divorce with Peterson was finalized.

Savio's death was originally ruled an accidental drowning. It was reclassified as a homicide after her body was exhumed following the disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy. Drew Peterson has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from that case and says he believes his fourth wife abandoned him for another lover and is alive and well somewhere.

Kathleen Savio's body was re-examined by well-known forensic pathologist Michael Baden in 2007. According to the new details, Baden found bruising on the body consistent with a struggle including "a 1-inch blunt-force laceration on the back of her head, five scraping abrasions and six blunt-force, black-and-blue bruises on her extremities, abdomen and buttocks."

Kathleen Savio in an undated photo.

Savio's family has long voiced suspicions about the circumstances surrounding her death. In a lawsuit filed by the family, it is alleged that Peterson went to Savio's house on Feb. 28, 2004, to "brutally ... stalk, attack, repeatedly beat, then drown," his third wife. Savio survived the attack for an unknown period of time before drowning, the lawsuit says.

The suit also alleges that a few months before Stacy Peterson disappeared, she told a pastor that she knew her husband killed Savio, an allegation that could come into play at Drew Peterson's trial.

Drew Peterson is being held at the Will County jail on $20 million bond, but denies wrongdoing. He said he misses his children and has prayed and read the Bible during his imprisonment. He also contends his fourth wife, Stacy, left him for another man when she disappeared in October 2007, and is most likely living outside Illinois.

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