Drew Peterson's Third Wife's Death Officially Ruled a Homicide

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," February 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: This is a "FOX News Alert." Well, it was homicide. The death of Sergeant Drew Peterson's wife number three, Kathleen Savio, has officially been ruled a homicide. The state's attorney's office in Illinois made the official announcement just a short time ago. Wife number three, Kathleen Savio, was found dead in a dry bathtub on March 1, 2004. Savio's body was exhumed three months ago after Peterson's wife number four, Stacy Peterson, vanished. She vanished October 28. Peterson is a suspect in Stacy's disappearance.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden performed an autopsy on Kathleen Savio in November and concluded and announced right here that Savio's death was a homicide. Dr. Michael Baden joins us here in Washington.

Now, Dr. Baden, you said right from the get-go it was a homicide. But something happened differently today. It's the state's pathologist that's now made a — released his findings.

DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: That's right. I did the autopsy at the request of the family. And my opinion, as we discussed previously, was that this should have been called a homicide three years ago, when this death occurred, because there was evidence that she'd been beaten up, lacerated scalp, before she drowned in the bathtub of the residence. She had no alcohol or drugs on board to indicate that she could have drowned because she lost consciousness. She was healthy. Healthy adults don't drown in bathtubs accidentally.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it was interesting, just to back up sort of in time, before we even brought you in to — you know, talking about the case on here, is that when we first got the case and we first got a copy — Steph Watts, one of our producers...

BADEN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... got a copy of the autopsy from the Savio family, and it had been done a number of years ago — we picked up the autopsy. And you know, none of us has a medical degree, and we were scandalized that it was an accident, to begin with.

BADEN: That's right, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, just us, we thought it was — we thought it was a homicide.

BADEN: That's right. And because you made a fuss about it and all that, the coroner, same coroner, went back and had an official exhumation done by Dr. Blum (ph). Now, that's the one that counts as far as the coroner and the attorney general goes. And he's a first-rate forensic pathologist. He did the autopsy on the exhumed body that I did the next day, and he couldn't say anything because it had to go through proper channels.

VAN SUSTEREN: So he's known for a while, though. I mean, it's not like...

BADEN: Yes. On, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you told us right away after you had done it. He's known it.

BADEN: He's known. He's known for a while. But it's the process of going to the attorney general, going to the coroner. And I must give credit to the coroner because the same coroner who ruled it was an accident now is ruling it's a homicide.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess he would say that was because the coroner's jury said that it was an accident, even though it was under his watch.

BADEN: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: So he sort of dodged that one. Now, the interesting thing — I mean, obviously a stunning development that this is now a homicide investigation. But when you are a pathologist or you do an autopsy, you don't say who did it, right?

BADEN: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't say who killed her.

BADEN: That's right. That's right. We don't know who did it. But we can find things that can be helpful. For example, we'll find out things about time of death that the police can then use to determine, if various people have alibis for that time, if those alibis are valid. And one of the things that comes out of the observations back when the body was found is that her degree of settling of blood, lividity, her degree of rigor mortis, would indicate that she was dead for a good 36 hours.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you could tell that even — we just saw a video of you doing the clean-up after the autopsy. But when you did the autopsy of Kathleen Savio a couple months ago, you could determine some reasonable time when she was dead? At that point...


BADEN: It's too late. But by going over and reading over what the medical examiner and the doctor did at the time, what the people who came in, various police officers, made statements as to the color of the body and the stiffness of the body.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you were sitting here with the prosecutor right now and not sitting here with me, what would you tell the prosecutor to pay attention to in this? Having done the autopsy, what are the important things?

BADEN: The important thing is — the cause of death is homicide. I don't think that'll be disputed. The issue is whodunnit? Now, just because it's a homicide doesn't mean the husband did it. But if the husband doesn't have a good alibi for the time that the death occurred, that becomes an issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, that's a challenge because we can't determine with a great level — we can't narrow the window except for probably the weekend.

BADEN: Well, no, we can narrow it whether it happened the day she was found or 36 hours earlier.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you conclude?

BADEN: That it was 36 hours earlier.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, I got it. I see.

BADEN: So that at the time of the coroner's inquest, the original one three years earlier, it was thought that he had a good alibi, the husband.

VAN SUSTEREN: At the time, but maybe not 36 hours earlier.

BADEN: But not the — and some material has come out, the police investigation has indicated, in talking to people that Stacy had said that the time that the death may have occurred, her husband was not in bed. And she went down and found him...

VAN SUSTEREN: And made a phone call and things like that.

BADEN: ... doing laundry and was dressed in black or something. So all those things are the things that are going to be important to the attorney general.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Baden, thank you, sir.

BADEN: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us live in Chicago is Kathleen Savio's sister, Anna Doman. Welcome, Anna. Nice to see you again.

ANNA DOMAN, KATHLEEN SAVIO'S SISTER: Hey, Greta. It's good to hear you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Anna, when did you hear the announcement today, and who told you about it?

DOMAN: My daughter did, actually. The state police called my house while I was at work. I got home a little after 5:00, and she picked me up at work and she told me that they had called and what they said, that it was a homicide.

VAN SUSTEREN: And how do you describe how you felt at that point? Because, I mean, I know you've heard — you hired — you had Dr. Baden do the autopsy and you knew what everybody thought. But this one's the official one because it's the state.

DOMAN: Right. Well, I knew this was going to come out as a homicide, but it was like a weight off my shoulders because now they can find out who killed my sister. Now everybody's finally listening and saying, Yes, the investigation can proceed and find out who did it. That's what we want to know, who did it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's been about — it's been almost four years. March 1, 2008, will be four years since your sister died. Is there any way to sort of put in words, you know, the — how punishing it's been for the family? Because I know the family has thought all along this was a homicide.

DOMAN: We thought — it was so stressful in the beginning, I mean, I almost had a nervous breakdown over the whole thing. It was horrible. It was horrible. I was depressed for such a long, long time. I actually had to go, you know, get some therapy just to get through it.

It was not only losing my sister. I was very close to my sister. We used to finish each other's sentences. I mean, we thought alike. We did so many things alike. It just was not having anyone listen. You have all this — I had all these papers from her and all the things she tried to do. And they're all going, Oh, don't worry about it, you know, like you're kind of goofy or something. And then it just went away, and we were just heart- broken.

We were at the juror's — the coroner's inquest. We were all there. And it was like somebody threw a bomb on us and we just had, you know, like, everybody had all this big weight on our shoulders. Now it's like the weight is being lifted. It's not gone. It'll never be gone. But it's lifted. It's better. We can finally breathe and say, OK, let's find out what happened. Who did this?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, one...

DOMAN: You know, everybody thinks, but we need evidence. That's what we need.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, one of the reasons why it was thought not to be a homicide four years ago is because there was no forced entry. And so the thinking at the time was that she fell in the bathtub and drowned or whatever. All right. Now the fact that there's no forced entry raises a question. Who had access to get into her house so that the person didn't have to use a forced entry? Do you know anybody?

DOMAN: Well, it would be someone with a key or it would be someone with the garage door opener, or someone who knew how to pick a lock. And I don't know anyone else who had a key. I didn't even have a key. She had had the locks changed. I don't know who had a key. I don't know if Drew had a key or not. I believe he had a garage door opener. I am not positive. I believe he did.

VAN SUSTEREN: I suppose the other theory is that...


VAN SUSTEREN: The other theory is that she let somebody in. Did she have any sort of — did she have a romantic interest at the time? She was separated from Drew, actually divorced. They were about to do their property settlement.

DOMAN: She did have a boyfriend. Yes, she did have a boyfriend.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know where he was that weekend?

DOMAN: I don't think he was with her that night. I mean, she was by herself that evening. He's a very busy guy. He's got his own business and he's got a lot of things going on, so — he tried to spend as much time as he could, but he lived in the northern suburbs, so you know, he couldn't just drop over, you know, that easily. I don't think he had a key, though.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, she and Drew were divorced, but they were about to resolve their property. They still had to resolve their property settlement, the house and other stuff, right, before she died?

DOMAN: That was the deal. Drew told her Stacy was pregnant. He wanted to marry Stacy. She said, Well, the marriage is over. So they dissolved the marriage. But normally, they do the property settlement right away. There was a lot involved with the businesses and all kinds of stock and other things. They put that off later. And they were also having — arguing about, you know, I want this, You get that, you know, normal divorce things about who gets what. So they decided to put that off.

And this was just a couple of weeks — two or three weeks before the official settlement. And it was unbelievably convenient at the time because what happened was Drew got everything and nothing went to her estate. He got it all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you spoken to Drew in the last month?

DOMAN: No. The only time I saw him was the one day when I first met you, that first day — in November, was it? Yes, beginning of November, October, end of October. Since then, no, not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anna, thank you. And, of course, we're going to stay on this, as we told you we're going to continue to cover the story. So thank you, Anna, and nice to see you.

DOMAN: We love you, Greta. Thank you.

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