07/24/2008

Reports of wire taps emerge in Drew Peterson case

Related articles: Drew Peterson: Psychologically ready to be arrested, Ill. sergeant suspected of murder resigns

By Don Babwin
The Associated Press


In this May 21, 2008 photo Drew Peterson, right, leaves the Will County Adult Detention Center with his attorney Joel Brodsky, in Joliet, Ill. A published report Wednesday, July 23, 2008, says that friends of Drew Peterson, whose third wife was killed and fourth wife is missing, say they wore wires during conversations with the man and turned over recordings to Illinois State Police. (AP Photo/Jerry Lai, File)

CHICAGO — Two friends of former police officer Drew Peterson told a newspaper he made incriminating statements during secretly taped conversations following the disappearance of his fourth wife - claims that Peterson denies.

"If they recorded me for seven months, it's going to clear me more than it's going to hurt me," Peterson told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Paula Stark and her husband, Len Wawczak, told the Chicago Sun-Times that they secretly taped Peterson after being contacted by the Illinois State Police in mid-November. They said they continued recording conversations through mid-June, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

The couple claimed, among other things, that the former suburban Bolingbrook police sergeant had wished aloud that he'd cremated his third wife's remains and asked them to set fire to a memorial to his missing wife, Stacy.

"If I said anything close to that, it was taken out of context," Peterson told the AP.

He repeated his denials on Thursday morning talk shows.

Neither the state police nor the Will County State's Attorney's office would comment about the couple's account.

Stark told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday that she can prove the tapes exist and said she was motivated partly by the odd way Peterson was acting after his wife's disappearance.

Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, said he doesn't know if there are any tapes, but said if there are, he also is confident Peterson said nothing incriminating on them.

"We kind of say, if there are tapes of everything Drew said for the last eight months, bring it on," Brodsky told the AP. "Even if they did some minor wiring for the state police a couple of times, there's certainly nothing incriminating on there."

The investigation into Stacy Peterson's disappearance in October has drawn worldwide media attention. Authorities have said they believe she is dead, and extensive searches have been conducted in forests, marshes, lakes and other areas in suburban Chicago.

Police are also investigating the death of Drew Peterson's previous, third wife, Kathleen Savio. She was found dead in a bathtub in 2004 and her death has been reclassified as a homicide.

Drew Peterson denies involvement in his fourth wife's disappearance and says he believes she left him for another man. He has not been named a suspect in his third wife's death.

Peterson and Brodsky questioned the couple's motives, and wondered if they were looking for a big payday. Peterson said the couple had asked him for money and became angry when he would not lend it to them.

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