Even on a Sunday, there will be no rest for those trying to find Stacy Peterson.
Two plainclothes officers with the Illinois State Police stopped by a number of homes here in Peterson's neighborhood to interview residents. Their every move, outside at least, was documented by the growing pack of camera crews which, as the days pass here, seem increasingly bent on chronicling every gust of wind in what’s presumably become the most closely watched cul-de-sac in America.
Here’s where I have to be careful, because television news is my life, and you won’t go anywhere in this business if you’re not aggressive. But I think it got to the point of overkill when I saw a reporter from a competing station interview a 9-year-old boy, who had just skateboarded to a buddy’s house, only to learn state police were inside the home of his playmate.
I’ve covered quite a few high-profile missing persons investigations over my career. Heck, this year alone, I’ve been assigned to a host of unsettling and tragic cases: Kelsey Smith (Johnson County, Kan.), Jessie Davis (Canton, Ohio), Lisa Stebic (Plainfield, Ill.). All were marked by intrigue, shady suspects and empathetic victims. The same goes for the Stacy Peterson saga. Yet, none seem to rival this one in terms of the high drama and the apparent boundless interest of the community.
For that reason, the city has deployed around-the-clock security to this neighborhood, as some of Drew Peterson’s former colleagues sit in squad cars on the side of the road (Peterson was suspended indefinitely without pay last week, due to an unrelated internal matter. Interestingly, we’ve been told he was days away from retirement) A few times each day, we’ll hear the wail of a siren, as a sign to a passersby to “keep-it-movin.” The satellite trucks alone clog the streets — then add the cars of the curious and the SUVs filled with volunteers who’ve come to this neighborhood to help search for Stacy, and you have one heck of a little traffic snarl.
All weekend long, it was typically Autumn-like here in Chicagoland: the weather was raw and gray. Perhaps it was fitting then that the Peterson house seemed eerily quiet and visibly neglected. In the front yard, there were a half-dozen Halloween decorations strewn on a patch of grass. These inflated monsters lost their air long ago. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but one plastic skeleton in the yard is particularly unsettling. Its bony hands extend upright into the air … its blank eyes fixed in a state of glassy detachment.
Stacy Peterson’s next door neighbor and close friend, Sharon Bychowski, tells me Stacy Peterson was ecstatic about taking her kids (ages four and two) trick-or-treating. It was going to be the first real Halloween for the Petersons, she said. So it’s sad to see these discarded decorations, just sitting there. It makes you wonder.
Jeff Goldblatt is a Chicago based reporter for FOX News Channel. Click over to read more of his bio.