MENARD, Ill. (AP) — Drew Peterson, the former suburban Chicago police officer convicted of killing his third wife and suspected in the disappearance of his fourth wife, has been transferred out of the Illinois prison system and into a federal penitentiary in Indiana.
It was unclear Tuesday why Peterson had been transferred. Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said she could not comment for security reasons and the office of the Will County prosecutor who won a conviction of Peterson in 2012 said only that the transfer has nothing to do with any charges out of that county. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons would say only that Peterson was being held in a federal prison in Terra Haute, and the U.S. attorney's offices in the southern, central and northern districts of Illinois declined comment.
"This kind of thing is extremely rare," said Phil Turner, a Chicago-based lawyer and former federal prosecutor about such transfers.
Among the reasons for moving someone from a state to a federal prison is that the person may be considering cooperating in a separate federal investigation and agents may want easier access to the person, Turner said.
State prisons have experience holding former officers, Turner said, so it is unlikely Peterson, 63, was being moved to a federal facility on security grounds. State prisoners who might be facing federal charges typically are not move before the government charges them.
Peterson's one-time attorney said he believes the transfer is linked to Peterson's conviction last year of plotting to kill the prosecutor who won a conviction in Peterson's murder trial. Joel Brodsky, who has not represented Peterson for several years, said it's possible Peterson was deemed too dangerous to remain in the prison where he hatched the alleged plot.
The transfer is the latest twist in a story that was for years the stuff of tabloids and was even turned into a TV movie starring Rob Lowe. After Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007, authorities reopened the investigation into the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in 2004 in a dry bathtub in her home. Savio's death was originally determined to be an accident but after her body was exhumed and an autopsy was conducted, her death was ruled a homicide.
Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in Savio's death. While serving a 38-year prison sentence at Menard Correctional Center, he was charged with plotting to kill Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow. He was convicted last year and sentenced to an additional 40 years in prison.
Peterson remains a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, though he has never been charged. Stacy Peterson is presumed dead, though her body has never been found.