CHICAGO – The family of Drew Peterson's third wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday, alleging the former Bolingbrook police sergeant drowned her in her bathtub.
Kathleen Savio's family has long voiced suspicions about the circumstances surrounding her 2004 death, especially following the disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy.
The lawsuit filed by Savio's father and sister was widely expected.
For more than a year Peterson's attorney has said he anticipated the family would file a lawsuit and suggested it was imminent after an appellate court this year upheld a lower court's decision to take control of Savio's estate away from Peterson and give it Savio's father, Henry Savio, and sister, Anna Doman.
The lawsuit, filed in Will County, seeks more than $100,000 and alleges Peterson killed Savio before a scheduled trial over the divorced couple's property.
Many of the allegations made in the lawsuit have been reported in the media ever since Stacy Peterson disappeared in October 2007.
An attorney representing Henry Savio and Doman acknowledged it does not contain any new information. Nor does it include any direct physical evidence against Peterson, said Martin Glink.
"I think it is all circumstantial evidence," Glink said. But, he added, "We are prepared to prove these things in court."
Peterson has been named a suspect by authorities in Stacy Peterson's disappearance but has not been charged. Authorities have not identified him as a suspect in Savio's death. Peterson has denied any involvement in either case, and on Tuesday his attorney, Joel Brodsky, reiterated Peterson's innocence.
The lawsuit alleges Peterson went to Savio's house on Feb. 28, 2004, to "brutally ... stalk, attack, repeatedly beat, then drown, decedent Kathleen Savio."
Savio survived the attack for an unknown period of time before drowning, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit covers a lot of familiar ground, starting with how Savio's death, initially classified as an accidental drowning, was reclassified as a homicide after her body was exhumed and another autopsy conducted following Stacy Peterson's disappearance.
It also alleges that a few months before Stacy Peterson disappeared she told a pastor in October 2007 that she knew her husband killed Savio — an allegation reported in the media two months later.
Brodsky criticized Henry Savio and Doman, saying the lawsuit will only hurt the two children Savio had with Peterson. Their father must now spend money to defend the lawsuit that would have gone to the kids, he said.
"The only people who will benefit from this lawsuit are the lawyers," he said.