The search for Stacy Peterson in Shorewood's Hammel Woods entered its third day as federal agents and state troopers used a dog to hunt for the missing mother.
The brown and white dog led a group of a half dozen FBI agents and state troopers—some armed with shovels—through the Shorewood park. The search party headed in the direction of the Hammel Woods dog park off Black Road.
A state police source said on Monday that the search effort was nothing more than a routine operation. The agency conducts such searches periodically, the source said, and there was no tip or clue that prompted this week's endeavor.
But when FBI agents and troopers returned for a second day Tuesday, and then once again today, some close to the case were wondering if state investigators were up to more than they were letting on.
The state police had already lied to Will County Forest Preserve representatives, telling them on Monday that they were only at Hammel Woods to "practice" doing their jobs, two forest preserve officials said. One said the state police later admitted they were actually there to look for Stacy Peterson.
State police spokeswoman Monique Bond pointed out there was some truth to the lie, as troopers were also practicing undisclosed search techniques while conducting an honest-to-goodness search at Hammel Woods.
"We're using it for training purposes as well," Bond said.
Stacy was 23 when she vanished in October 2007. State police Capt. Carl Dobrich quickly announced he believed Stacy was the victim of a "potential homicide" and named her husband, former Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson, as the sole suspect in the criminal investigation.
More than five years later, the state police have yet to charge Peterson with harming Stacy, who is Peterson's fourth wife. The state police did arrest Peterson in May 2009 on charges he killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and Peterson was found guilty of murder in September.
Savio was found drowned in her dry bathtub in March 2004. She and Peterson were in the midst of a tumultuous, violent divorce at the time of her death, but state police investigators immediately decided she was the victim of a freak bathtub accident and closed the book on her case. The state police were forced to re-evaluate that decision after Stacy mysteriously vanished more than three years later.
Peterson has claimed since his wife disappeared that she ran off with another man but has been unable to identify her mystery lover. Peterson also does not know where his wife went, although he said he suspects she took off on a Caribbean vacation.
Officials have said they pinpointed cell phone activity from Stacy's number in the Shorewood area around the time she disappeared, and Peterson's stepbrother, Thomas Morphey, has said Peterson enlisted him in an effort to frame former Shorewood resident Scott Rossetto for her murder.
Peterson believed Stacy and Rossetto were carrying on romantically behind his back, Morphey and other sources have said.
During a January 2010 pretrial hearing, Rossetto testified that Stacy visited him just days before she disappeared. He also said Stacy tried to kiss him and then asked him if he could “could keep a secret.”
“The night Kathleen Savio died, he came home very, very late at night,” Rossetto said Stacy told him.
“He was dressed in black,” Rossetto said. “He said, ‘If anybody asks, I was at home.’”
One of Peterson's defense attorneys, Joseph "Shark" Lopez, was dubious of the FBI and state police operation.
"They couldn't find Hambone Albergo, I doubt they'll find her," Lopez said, referring to the Chicago mobster FBI agents dug up a U.S. Cellular Field parking lot to look for but failed to find.
"Even if she was there, they wouldn't find her," Lopez said.
Told that the law had set a dog loose to look for Stacy, Lopez said, "They must be having a good time," and added, "We'll see if they come up with a pork chop or something."