Pathologist: Savio death was homicide

February 22, 2008 5:11:39 AM PST
A new autopsy conducted on Drew Peterson's third wife concludes her death was no accident. The Will County state's attorney has declared she was the victim of a homicide. Her body found four years ago in a dry bathtub, at the time, authorities said she drowned.

Drew Peterson is the former Bolingbrook police officer who is a suspect now in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

While Drew Peterson is called a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, he has not been called a suspect, yet, in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio and Savio's family is also reserving judgment, for now.

"It's really hard to swallow. I think we're happy that it's finally confirmed that it's a homicide and we have to hope that whoever did it will be brought to justice," said Nick Savio, Kathleen's brother.

Nick Savio says the autopsy confirms what the family suspected the past four years, that his sister was murdered. Her body was exhumed last November and re-examined by a forensic pathologist, Larry Blum, who arrived at a different conclusion than the March 2004 coroner's inquest that ruled her death was an accident.

"A normal healthy person just doesn't drown in a bathtub. You know unless they're really drunk or have some debilitations people don't just up and die. She was a vibrant person, young and healthy," Nick Savio said.

Savio's husband, former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson, whose fourth wife Stacy has been missing since October, was unavailable for comment. On the autopsy, his lawyer Joel Brodsky spoke to ABC7 News by telephone Thursday night.

"He knows he didn't do anything so he's confident that this autopsy will be shown to be flawed and that the first autopsy was shown to be accurate. The first autopsy came back accidental death," Brodsky said.

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said of the Savio autopsy, "We have been investigating this as a murder since reopening the case in November of last year."

Meanwhile a spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson's family reacted to the news about Savio with dread, believing it lessens the chance that Stacy can be found alive.

"We can only hope that we can find the person who did this horrible thing to her and bring them to justice," said Pam Bosco.

Drew Peterson was quoted earlier Thursday in an online edition of the "Joliet Herald News" he said he was shocked and expressed some disbelief that his third wife was murdered.

Official News Release from Will County Authorities

Pathologist declares Kathleen Savio's death a homicide

JOLIET - Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow announced today that his office has received the final report on the autopsy performed on the remains of Kathleen S. Savio on Nov. 13, 2007.

Dr. Larry W. Blum, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, concludes in his report that the actual cause of Kathleen Savio's death was drowning and that the legal manner of death was homicide. Dr. Blum's report was delivered to the Will County Coroner's Office on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008 and immediately forwarded to the Will County State's Attorney's Office and the Illinois State Police.

"Dr. Blum's forensic report renders his expert opinion that this is a homicide," State's Attorney Glasgow said. "We have been investigating this as a murder since reopening the case in November of last year. We now have a scientific basis to formally and publicly classify it as such."

The complete autopsy report is a component of the investigation into the March 1, 2004 death of Kathleen Savio and will not be released. However, the Will County State's Attorney's Office and the Illinois State Police are releasing the following quote from the conclusion in Dr. Blum's report:

"It is my opinion based on my education, training, experience and personal observations, and to a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty, compelling evidence exists to support the conclusions that the cause of death of Kathleen S. Savio was drowning and further, that the manner of death was homicide."

This was the second autopsy performed on Kathleen Savio's remains. The first was performed shortly after her death in March 2004. Her body was exhumed on the morning of Nov. 13, 2007, and Dr. Blum performed the second autopsy that afternoon.

In his report, Dr. Blum notes that he reviewed photos taken from the scene at the time of Kathleen Savio's death as well as reports of the initial scene investigation. He also carefully examined the physical location of Kathleen Savio's death on Nov. 20, 2007 as part of his investigation.

His report includes the results of microscopic examinations and toxicological tests conducted on postmortem tissue specimens. The specimens examined by Dr. Blum were collected during the first autopsy on March 2, 2004, the second autopsy performed by Dr. Blum on Nov. 13, 2007, and a third autopsy performed by Dr. Michael Baden on behalf of Kathleen Savio's family on Nov. 16, 2007.

The results of those examinations and tests are part of the investigation and are not being disclosed at this time.

The Illinois State Police are investigating the murder of Kathleen Savio as well as the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. Kathleen Savio's murder and Stacy Peterson's disappearance are simultaneously being investigated by a Special Grand Jury that was convened in November 2007.