JOLIET, Ill. – Drew Peterson seemed distraught upon finding his third wife dead in her bathtub, and he immediately suggested he would be a suspect in her death, a witness testified Monday.
Thomas Pontarelli, a neighbor of Kathleen Savio's, said he was struck by what wasn't in Savio's bathroom when he looked down at her body.
"I said 'Look around, where's her clothes? Where's her towel?"' Pontarelli testified he said to Peterson and others who were there. He said he noticed there was no soap scum in the bathtub.
Pontarelli and his 19-year-old son, Nick Pontarelli, testified at a hearing to decide what hearsay evidence would be permitted at Peterson's upcoming murder trial entered its third week. More than 30 witnesses have already testified.
The 56-year-old former Bolingbrook police officer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Savio's 2004 death, and he is considered the only suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
Savio's death was initially ruled an accident. But after Drew Peterson was named a suspect in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, Savio's body was exhumed, a new autopsy was conducted and her death was ruled a homicide. Drew Peterson has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance.
Prosecutors have tried to draw a link between the two cases.
Thomas Pontarelli testified that it widely known in the neighborhood that Peterson and Savio were in the midst of a bitter divorce.
He said the day they discovered Savio's body, Peterson said he summoned a locksmith to the home because he hadn't been able to reach her by phone.
Pontarelli said when they came upon the body, Peterson seemed "genuinely distraught" and that Peterson's "voice was cracking a little bit" after he took Savio's pulse and determined she was dead.
"He said 'What am I going to tell my children?'," he said.
Peterson then stepped out of the bathroom and called police on his cell phone, Pontarelli said.
He recalled Drew Peterson saying, "People are going to think I did it."
Earlier Monday, Nick Pontarelli testified that in the months before her death, Savio, who he considered to be a second mother, told him that Peterson had put a knife to her throat and had broken into and bugged her home.
He said Savio told him she had found a small tape recorder in her home and that she assumed there were others.
The teen described witnessing a fight on Savio's front lawn in which Drew Peterson threw her to the ground and pushed her face into the grass.
The 19-year-old also testified that shortly before Savio's body was found she talked to him about being excited about starting a new chapter in life.
"She said she wanted to move away as far as she could," he said. But, he said, Savio "was getting really scared that the finalization of her divorce was coming up."
Savio and Peterson were days away from finalizing a property settlement. At the time, Peterson and Stacy were dating and lived together.
The day after Savio's body was discovered, Nick Pontarelli said he saw Drew Peterson, Stacy and one of Drew's adult sons pull up to Savio's house and load the vehicle with items, including a bag of clothes.
In earlier testimony last month, retired Illinois State Police Sgt. Patrick Collins acknowledged he had conducted an incomplete investigation, saying among other things that he was so sure the death was an accident that he didn't secure the house.