Stacy Peterson's aunt said wife wanted out, miserable in marriage

After Kathleen Savio's lifeless body was discovered in her bathtub, the lack of forced entry to her Bolingbrook home is one reason state police said they initially ruled out foul play.

But two prosecution witnesses who testified Tuesday in Drew Peterson's pretrial hearsay hearing suggested the former police sergeant had other means to bypass the new locks his ex-wife installed in their former marital home.

Peterson is charged with the 2004 murder of Savio, his third wife, with whom he battled over finances while building a new life blocks away with a fourth wife, Stacy, about 30 years his junior.

She vanished Oct. 28, 2007.

Peterson, 56, has not been charged in her disappearance.

Still, prosecutors must convince a Will County judge that Peterson made Stacy unavailable to testify before they can use as evidence in his upcoming trial any statements others say she made implicating her husband in Savio's slaying.

Stacy's aunt, Candace Aikin, similar to other family and friends, said the 23-year-old wife feared her husband and was desperate to end the marriage. Aikin said Stacy described Peterson as controlling and jealous and, before she disappeared, opened up about bizarre behavior. For example, Aikin said Stacy accused him of stealing Savio's garage door opener out of her car one day while his ex-wife was at nursing school so he could swipe her wedding ring.

"(Stacy) was starting to say things so that people would know the real Drew," Aikin testified, at times through tears.

Earlier Tuesday, Judge Stephen White ruled Stacy Peterson's pastoral counselor may testify about certain conversations he said the two had in coffee shops after she sought him out for marital help.

White, though, barred Neil Schori from disclosing counseling sessions in which Drew Peterson was present, after the defense argued he had a reasonable expectation of confidentiality.

Schori, now lead pastor at Naperville Christian Church, said he provided them counseling while at Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook. He said the nondenominational church did not have rules requiring confidentiality.

In earlier media interviews, Schori said Stacy confided in him that Peterson confessed to killing Savio. Schori said Stacy also told him about her husband's whereabouts during the murder, contrary to the alibi she gave police that he was home.

The defense is fighting the admissibility of testimony concerning husband-wife conversations, under marital privilege. White closed the courtroom Tuesday during much of Schori's testimony. Nearly one hour later, the judge announced he will rule Wednesday on whether Schori will be allowed to testify about Drew Peterson's alleged murderous confession.

Aikin and her friend, Donna Badalamenti, who knew Stacy since she was a child, also testified about an incriminating remark they said Drew Peterson made during the couple's January 2007 trip to California. The women said Drew Peterson remarked he was so well trained as a police officer that he could get away with murder, making it appear an accident.

"Not with this chicky you won't," they both quoted a startled Stacy as responding.

But it was during Badalamenti's first meeting with Drew Peterson in 2003 that she said he showed her a small kit he carried containing lock-picking tools. She said Peterson told her he had a few kits, for different types of locks.

So far, prosecutors called about 22 witnesses in the court hearing. White said he will rule at its conclusion which statements, if any, will be allowed at trial. The defense team often grills witnesses on their credibility, raising such issues as criminal history, substance abuse, bias, or whether the witness is making up stories to make the news.

"A lot of this shouldn't see the inside of a courtroom," attorney Joel Brodsky said.

Kathleen Savio Picasa 3.0