JOLIET, Ill. – Months before Drew Peterson's ex-wife Kathleen Savio was found dead in her bathtub the former police sergeant asked a one-time co-worker if he could find someone to "have his third wife taken care of," the co-worker testified Thursday.
Jeff Pachter said Peterson told him during a ride in Peterson's squad car in the winter of 2003 that he'd pay Pachter $25,000 and he didn't care how Pachter divided the money. Pachter said that while Peterson never used the words kill or murdered, "I thought it was to have her murdered."
Pachter said he didn't take Peterson's offer seriously, saying he simply responded, "OK," but did nothing about it.
The testimony is part of a hearing to determine what "hearsay" evidence prosecutors can present to jurors when Drew Peterson stands trial in Savio's death.
Peterson, 56, a former Bolingbrook police officer, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Savio's death. He is also considered the only suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
Pachter said Peterson explained to him that he asked Pachter partly because Pachter works in a dangerous section of Joliet. Pachter said he understood that to mean Peterson believed he would be able to find a drug dealer or gang member to carry out the job.
Pachter, who said he met Peterson when the two worked for a cable company, is a convicted sex offender who acknowledged he owed his bookie $1,000 at the time and had marital problems. Prosecutors suggested in their questions that Peterson chose Pachter because he wouldn't be the kind of person who authorities would believe over the word of a police officer.
Pachter said he hadn't heard about Savio's death in March 2004 until he telephoned Peterson the following July to ask about Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, and the baby she had recently delivered. Pachter said Peterson said during the call, "By the way, the favor that I asked you, I don't need it anymore."
He said Peterson explained that Savio had fallen in her bathtub, hit her head and died.
Peterson has not been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, but much of the testimony has centered on her disappearance as prosecutors attempt to establish a link between the two cases.
Earlier Thursday, Stacy Peterson's sister Cassandra Cales testified that two days before Stacy Peterson disappeared she told Cales she was afraid of Drew Peterson.
"She said she feared for her life and if anything ever happened to her, Drew did something to her," Cales said.
In previous testimony, a neighbor of Stacy and Drew Peterson testified that shortly before she disappeared, Stacy Peterson told her the same thing.
Cales said when Stacy Peterson told her about her plans to divorce Peterson and leave with her children, Cales became frightened. Cales said she mentioned to Stacy Peterson that Savio's death was "kind of weird." But Stacy Peterson didn't respond, Cales said.
Cales also testified that on the night she reported her sister missing, Drew Peterson told her that Stacy had left him for another man and had taken $25,000.
More than 30 witnesses have testified in the hearing, which is in its seventh day and is expected to last at least another week.