A neighbor came across Savio's body on March 1, 2004, and let out a scream. Others ran up the stairs of her suburban Chicago home to behold the scene: Savio lay face down in her dry bathtub. Her thick black hair was blood-soaked and she had a 2-inch gash on the back of her head.
The drowning death of the 40-year-old aspiring nurse was initially deemed an accident — a freak slip in the tub. After Peterson's fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007, Savio's body was exhumed, re-examined and her death reclassified as a homicide.
Peterson had divorced Savio a year before her death. His motive for killing her, prosecutors said, was fear that a pending settlement, which included their $300,000 home, would wipe him out financially.
The 12 jurors deliberated for more than 13 hours before reaching a decision. The seven men and five women included a poet, a letter carrier and a man who said his favorite TV show was "Criminal Minds." The jurors, who raised questions about whether they were taking the case seriously by donning different coordinated outfits each day of testimony, did not wear matching attire on Thursday.
Defense attorney Ralph Meczyk said Peterson was saddened by the verdict but didn't say much. He said the defense would appeal.
"Hearsay is the big issue. It's the law, but the law has to be changed," Meczyk said.
Fascination nationwide with the former Bolingbrook police sergeant arose from speculation he sought to parlay three decades of law enforcement expertise into getting away with murder.
"Finally somebody heard Kathleen's cry," her stepmother, Marcia Savio, told reporters after the verdict.
Savio's brother, Nick Savio, grew emotional as he read a statement from the family outside court, calling Drew Peterson a "cold-blooded killer" and saying "everyone gets payback for what they have done to others.