When Drew Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004, state police crime scene investigator Robert Deel was so convinced she died accidentally he didn't bother to collect any crime scene evidence.
Three years later, when Christopher Vaughn's wife and children were found shot to death on the Interstate 55 frontage road outside Channahon and near , Deel tried to convince his colleagues that it was Vaughn's wife, Kimberly, who shot everyone and then herself, but they just wouldn't listen, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.
Deel is no longer a crime scene investigator, the article said, because "prosecutors faulted his work on another murder case," and that would be the case of Peterson, which is proceeding as a murder prosecution, despite the work of Deel.
Vaughn also faces murder charges. He allegedly gunned down his wife and three children.
Now a sergeant in the patrol division, Deel testified in a deposition, according to a letter from a private detective cited in the Tribune article, "that his fellow investigators quickly dismissed the possibility that anyone but Christopher Vaughn was responsible for the slayings."
The Tribune article included this quote from the man who apparently convinced everyone that Peterson's third wife died accidentally three years before the fourth wife disappeared mysteriously:
"I wasn't being listened to by them," he said. "In fact, every time that I offered up something that was contrary to what they said, they had some reason why I didn't know what I was talking about, and basically it all fell back on that Christopher Vaughn is a criminal mastermind and he knows all about crime scenes and that he would be able to fool me into thinking that something else happened."
Incidentally, police and prosecutors changed course on the Savio case and charged Peterson with murdering her in May 2009. In early 2010, Deel testified he still believed Savio was the victim of a freak bathtub accident.