Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Drew Peterson: Wife Killer?

"A potential homicide"

Monday, the next day, Drew Peterson took the day off. He said he spent the day looking for Stacy, finding her 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix in a parking lot at Bolingbrook's Clow International Airport, just a few blocks from their home.

Drew (l) and Stacy Peterson
Drew (l) and Stacy Peterson
That night, he allowed Illinois state troopers to search the home. The State Police investigators were treating Stacy's disappearance as a missing person investigationa case of a runaway wife. They didn't suspect foul play, and they didn't have a search warrant.

State Police Captain Carl Dobrich told the press: "Mr. Peterson was cooperative and allowed our officers, including a crime-scene technician, into the residence to do a limited consensual search. Nothing was found. Both vehicles were at the residence, a GMC Denali and a Pontiac Grand Prix. We were allowed access to the Denali, but not to the Grand Prix."

The troopers had to ask themselves, though, if Sergeant Drew Peterson, a 29-year police veteran, was really interested in finding his wife, why wouldn't he let them search her car, the same car he said he had found parked at the airport the day after his wife vanished?

Three days later, the troopers were back with a search warrant. They seized Peterson's cell phone, his computer, and 11 guns, including a Colt Sporter, a chopped-down, military-style assault rifle, with a barrel a good bit shorter than the minimum 16 inches required by both state and federal law. Peterson's lawyer claimed his client was authorized to have the rifle because he was a member of the Bolingbrook police SWAT team. Peterson was later charged with possession of an illegal firearm, but the charges were eventually dismissed.

One of Peterson's illegal guns.
One of Peterson's illegal guns.
The state troopers also towed Stacy's car to the crime lab.

A few days later, the state investigators were back at the Peterson home with a second search warrant. They weren't buying Drew's story of a runaway wife either.

On Friday, November 9, State Police Captain Carl Dobrich again spoke to the press. "Early on, we looked at this as a missing-person case, but...the evidence [is] starting to strongly point to Drew Peterson," Dobrich said. "I would say that right now, Drew Peterson has gone from being a person of interest to being a suspect. I would say the case has shifted now from a missing-person case to a potential homicide."

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