EXCLUSIVE: That's What Friends Are For... #DrewPeterson

Sept 17, 2012
Reported by: Mandy McGlothlin
National Freelance Reporter

On the day of closing arguments I couldn't help but notice at least one row of men that during closing arguments would listen to statements from both the State’s Attorney’s office and the defense. These men would simultaneously listen to certain parts of each argument and give a look toward Peterson. It was clear these men were not fond of Peterson and didn't hide it. I finally asked one of them during a break who they were and did they work the case after Stacy went missing? “Yes ma’am, we sure did!” One of the men responded with a gun on his side. I left it at that because it was clear about their feelings regarding Drew Peterson just by watching and listening. These were very serious men and made a huge presence in the room that day. But the day of closings was nothing compared to “Verdict Day”.

We all started to gather in the courtroom for the verdict, the room was filling fast with media, attorneys, bailiffs, family and friends of both the Savio and Cales families and deputies standing up surrounding Drew Peterson closely in every direction. One thing that stuck out to me was not one family member or friend was there for Drew. It was as if the world was there for Kathleen and Stacy. I can honestly say I could feel the presence of Kathleen and Stacy too. The two ladies that at one point were all alone at different times and where the world could not help them. They were no longer in the hands of Drew Peterson, but holding each other’s hands waiting to hear the verdict with us.

I noticed Kathy Hoffmeyer, the lady that took care of media, family/friends and public seating, bringing Cassandra Cales and Pam Bosco in making sure they had seats.

Kathleen Savio’s family was sitting in the front row directly in front of me and holding each other tightly. I just closed my eyes, started to pray for both of the families and Peterson’s children to have some peace. Savio’s boys had not only lost one mother but two mother’s and possibly at this moment their father.

As Judge Burmila read the verdict GUILTY as if he were reading us a story, no tone change at all, I looked at Peterson, he didn't even blink, the jurors were looking at the judge or down at the ground. I felt Kathleen’s friends hand pat me on the back and cries of happiness were louder in the gallery right then than any courtroom I've ever sat through during a verdict. I remember looking at Judge Jeanine Pirro seated to my right and she looked up from writing and smiled at me and started writing as fast as she could, looking at Peterson. The real Drew Peterson was no longer hidden. I immediately started writing everything that was going on during this surreal moment.

For some reason the first person I thought of was Sharon Bychowski. I hadn't seen her the entire time and was looking forward to meeting her. I contacted Bychowski half way through the trial to ask if she would be coming and she said “No, because no information about Stacy will be entered. I will always be there for Stacy when they call me and thank you for thinking about me.”

I really wanted to talk to Bychowski after the verdict and ask how she felt because she played a huge part in getting Stacy’s story out.

Photo by: Mandy McGlothlin
Bychowski was Stacy Peterson’s next door neighbor and best friend. Bychowski was played in the movie Drew Peterson “Untouchable” as Karen. From all the research I had done and piles of papers where Bychowski had made statements about the Peterson’s I knew she was highly involved with this entire process. Bychowski made no bones about it that she felt Drew was behind the disappearance of Stacy. I had to know how this brave lady, that lived only 10 feet from Peterson, felt about knowing he wasn't coming home. I wanted to get to know more about Stacy Cales (not Stacy Peterson) and Bychowski as people not just what I've read or what I've seen in a movie. There’s so much more to Bychowski and what she has done to help Stacy than people know.

MM: What were your thoughts on the movie Drew Peterson “Untouchable” was it accurate?

SB: Sony called over 2 years ago and wanted to buy the rights to my name. But it was more important to me to be able to testify for Stacy without someone trying to discredit me for being involved for all the wrong reasons. They tried six different ways to get me to take the money and I said “absolutely no.” "I won’t take any money." About a year ago I got a call from the screen writer Teena Booth wanting to meet with me about Stacy. I said of course, but no money. I showed her how close Stacy’s house was to Kathleen Savio’s and shared details about Stacy for over four hours. I showed her the greenery Stacy decorated my house with and shared stories about Stacy. Stacy loved to decorate. There’s just no way to put such a big story in an hour and half movie. The story line was pretty accurate.

The way Drew manipulated people was very accurate.

MM: How did your husband feel about Drew?

SB: My husband just never clicked with Drew. I don’t know, I guess they never had anything in common.

MM: Did you know Lenny and Paula were informants and wired for over 7 months?

SB: Lenny decided to let me know because the more involved they became the more Lenny and Paula saw the hurt I felt about Stacy and the whole situation. I think it’s amazing what they did.

MM: Did you ever decide to take extra steps to protect yourself from Drew?

SB: The week after Stacy went missing Drew met my husband and me as we were taking the trash out and Drew said he wanted to talk to me. I called the Chief of Police and he said put his number on speed dial and call him day or night and he would help me. Drew did call me and opened my garage door. One of the searchers saw him looking into my dining room window in the back yard, so we started closing all the shades, we put in an alarm and had cameras installed. We lived a little more protective too.

MM: So Drew would actually come onto your property after knowing you didn't want anything to do with him?

SB: Oh yes, and he would, of course, every time I was in the backyard to walk my dog if I was by myself, Drew would say things to me. You’re getting ugly or you’re sure getting fat and God you look awful today! Always being sarcastic to try and get a rise out of me.

MM: Was there one day that stuck out that Drew completely turned on you and realized you were going to help police or anyone willing to help find Stacy?

SB: Yes, the day he had Greta VanSusteren in his house and I took the kids trick or treating and when I came back he was sitting at a table with VanSusteren and her producers. He had his friend saying Stacy was on medications and was out of her mind. VanSusteren was filming Drew’s friend saying those things and none of them were true. They were taking the word from a man that Stacy was in fear of. She wanted to take her children and leave her home; and she wanted him to stop stalking her. He wasn't telling the truth.

VanSusteren was filming soon after at my house and asked to use my restroom to change clothes for her show. I let VanSusteren know right then Stacy was a great mom, not on medication and was very focused on her family. Stacy would have never left her children - that didn't happen! VanSusteren said “I knew it, I knew it!” So the next day I met with her, a producer and Mark Fuhrman. Fuhrman spoke to me about coming forward. Fuhrman said we need a stable person to speak for Stacy and I remember Fuhrman saying to me the press is going to leave you soon and somebody has got to keep talking about Stacy, somebody has got to keep them interested. During one of my meetings with Fuhrman, Drew called me. I said to Fuhrman, OMG! Drew is calling me right now! Fuhrman said answer and act normal. I looked at him and said, really...normal? We are already past normal now. I answered and said "Hey what’s up?" Drew said “Where are you?” He spoke to me like he would speak to Stacy and I realized right then what it felt like for Stacy to have to answer to him because now he’s talking to me that way! I told him “I’m working” He said, I need you to come home and take Kristopher to the dentist. But by the time I arrived, Drew was gone and the kids were there with Rick Mins - (Peterson's long-time friend). Another neighbor calls me and tells me the kids are screaming and are with the police. I take the kids back to my house and Drew shows back up and I have the children at my house with two police officers. The warrants for the search were read to Drew at my house. While we were sitting there Drew said he wants to talk to me I said so talk! He looked at me and said it will only take a minute. We step into a bathroom that is basically a powder room barely big enough to shut the door with two people it. Drew says Wow; it’s been a long time since I did a chick in the bathroom. And I said, "we're in here because…..?" Oh yea I think they’re going to take me in for 48 hours. I said, "For what?" You know Stacy. I need you to call Steve - (One of Drew's older sons) - and he will pick up the kids.

MM: When you walked out of the bathroom did the officers look at you and ask if you were okay?

SB: One said “Is everything okay?” I said "yes, it’s okay."

SB: When I decided to do as Mark Fuhrman suggested, an interview of Stacy’s story and the person she was, we decided to do it in silhouette; but I knew if Drew saw it he would know it was me immediately. The day it was scheduled they issued another search warrant and Drew came to my house at the same time so they decided to pull it and not run it until Friday night. And from that moment forward Drew knew that I felt he killed Stacy!

MM: I know Kathleen had already died almost two months before you moved into the neighborhood and you never met Kathleen. Did Stacy ever mention Kathleen to you?

SB: The only time Stacy mentioned Kathleen was the time Stacy took me by Kathleen’s house.

MM: Did you go inside?

SB: Oh yes, she showed me the bath tub where she died. It was a 5 bedroom tri-level with a huge basement. That’s when Stacy said Drew would take her in the basement to screw her while Kathleen was upstairs. I looked at Stacy because I still barely knew her at that time and said "Stacy, didn't you know that’s wrong?" "You should have at least out of respect, gone to a hotel, at least. “Stacy replied with, "No Sharon you don’t understand; everyone knew Drew, we couldn't go just anywhere." I told Stacy how Drew was telling her, how he was probably telling her, we're just friends, we’re getting a divorce but we’re staying together for the kids….. Stacy sat down on the stairs as if she had been hurt and said," How did you know that?" I told Stacy that’s what a lot of people say that are messing around.

MM: I've only seen pictures from the crime scene and the picture with Kathleen in it during the trial. I know from previous cases pictures never give anything justice. Was it a small bathtub?

SB: It is a small soaking tub or some would call a garden tub. It’s not that big. It’s not a full bathtub.

MM: What else did Stacy want to show you in the house?

SB: She told me she wanted to show me something that was really creepy in the wood grain in the door going to the basement where Drew would take her. Stacy said can you see the face in the door? The eyes and face in the grain, it looks like the face of Satan! Do you see it? Stacy pointed it out to me and I said yes I see it. Stacy said she wanted it removed and felt like it held bad karma and Drew would laugh at her and said no.

MM: What all did Drew do for Stacy?

SB: Oh lots of things. He liked to buy her things but he never really gave it to her. Like for instance, he put her in an apartment that was actually free because of the job he held and bought her black furniture and it’s now in his basement. Gave her a Pontiac Grand Prix and that actually was still his and eventually became his car. Drew never gives anything away. He gives it but he doesn't give it away. He would give stuff but it had a string on it so he could pull it back anytime.

MM: I know Drew attended the funeral, did Stacy?

SB: Drew wanted Stacy to go but she said no. And after the funeral Drew was invited by Kathleen’s family member to the lunch but Drew left because he didn't want to put the boys through too much. But actually Drew had a couple people already ready to meet him at Kathleen’s house with trucks and Stacy said they were cleaning the house out! Took everything they could. I later met with Anna Doman, Kathleen’s sister, after Stacy’s disappearance and she asked me to describe Drew and Stacy’s furniture. I told Anna its cherry wood with a little moon on the top and Anna finished describing it to me. That was Kathleen’s furniture. So, he also took everything from Kathleen’s house and put it in his house. He always ended up with everything he wanted.

MM: I didn't live anywhere near here when Stacy went missing but I saw lots of pictures of your front yard with Stacy’s big picture and lots of flowers. Who helped you with the up keep of this? Did you receive flowers from all of the U.S.?

SB: We called the place in the front of my house Stacy’s Garden. I had my huge sign with Stacy’s picture, that is now in my garage and everyone was sending or bringing flowers. One day a family from Michigan that owned a farm brought flowers from their own farm and their children left notes to God that they had wrote. Prayers to God; to help Stacy. Drew came out of his house and started laughing at the family and said this is hilarious; I've got to get some pictures of this.

MM: Did Drew take pictures of the family? How did the family react?

SB: Yes, he took pictures. They didn't know what to think and went home and started writing a blog about it. They felt it was so disrespectful and rude. They had brought those flowers from their own farm. Within a day I had people from all over the place sending shipments of candles from West Virginia, florists were coming by with flowers. I had hundreds of flowers and crosses and pictures. Every week it took five of us to do the up keep of all the flowers and maintain my lawn. We used miracle grow for my lawn and moved the flowers around to mow for almost 2 years. We thought it was wonderful way to keep her face out there and stories about her. People would come from everywhere to take pictures and my picture of Stacy included the contact information for anyone with any information to help find Stacy.

MM: Speaking of contact information who should people contact if they know anything?

SB: Illinois State Police or www.searchingforstacypeterson.com or findstacypeterson@gmail.com

MM: Did Jeff Ruby contact you about reward?

SB: Yes!! He asked if I thought it would be a good idea to up the reward to $100,000.00 and I said “Are you kidding me?” That’s a wonderful idea. I wish I’d known you five years ago. Anything to help would be great.

MM: I know he’s a member on the Texas Equusearch. I met Tim Miller during Casey Anthony’s trial and I think he’s an excellent person with a huge heart. Did Miller show up to help?

SB: Tim helped tremendously. He helped us learn how to map out searches and a water team was brought in. I remember his name; it was Dennis and his wife, they were really nice people and willing to help anyway they could. An air team from Southern Illinois came as well.

MM: Was Tom Morphey (Drew Peterson’s Step brother) worried about Drew being released?

SB: Yes! Very much so!! Tom and I are the most vulnerable. Tom just lives around the street from Drew. If Drew were released, we're both right here next to him.

MM: Where were you when the verdict was read?

SB: I was at work.

MM: How do you feel about State’s Attorney Mr. Glasgow and his work?

SB: He is such a focused individual. Mr. Glasgow and John Connor both have told me there’s never been a case that keeps them up as much at night as this one. We work 24/7 and think about Kathleen and Stacy constantly.

MM: Do you believe they have enough to go forward with Stacy’s case?

SB: I think they have way more than they ever had for Kathleen’s case. Yes!

MM: What do you remember about what Stacy did or said the days before she disappeared?

SB: I remember Stacy crying so hard she couldn't even catch her breath; Stacy said I tried to get Drew to move. I boxed up everything for him, there are 10 boxes and I could see the boxes. Stacy just kept saying “He won’t go He won’t go” “I just want someone to love me and not stalk me.”

MM: Did you give Stacy any advice?

SB: I told Stacy to start keeping a journal of everything and she could keep it at my house. Start writing everything down, so we could have some kind of record of it.

MM: Did Stacy ever say anything to insinuate she knew it was coming?

SB: Stacy told me he’s going to kill me. It doesn't matter anymore, I’m already dead. I told her, you do matter. You matter to me and your family; you matter to a lot of people. She said it doesn't matter what I say or do I’m going to die! She knew he was going to kill her!

MM: (so many thoughts were going through my mind) I found myself speechless and replaying a lot of things in my head. Sharon continued to speak proudly of her friend that has changed her life forever. Sharon is truly a hero in the eyes of so many. Mark Fuhrman guided her and Sharon continues to keep her promise.

SB: Lacy asked my granddaughter if she knew where her mommy was. My granddaughter said no, but your mommy loves you very much. That was two years ago. Lacy hasn't asked anything since. I will continue to tell Stacy’s story as Mark Fuhrman asked and made me promise to not give up. He said some stories take ten years to come out but this one will come out. Stacy was a very unique and wonderful person. She loved her children more than anything. I have my favorite picture of Stacy sitting here. It’s of Stacy in Lacy’s playpen holding Lacy. It says it all. Stacy was so loving and loved being a mother. Lacy will turn the picture over face down when she comes over. It would make Lacy sad to see it. Stacy leaves behind a beautiful legacy in Anthony and Lacy Ann and now in Kathleen as well.

I talked to Bychowski for over 6 hours about Stacy a month shy of Stacy’s disappearance five years ago. It made me think about just how many hours Sharon has helped to bring awareness to Stacy’s story.

Bychowski told me about Stacy planting tulip bulbs next to Bychowski’s house and looks forward to them blooming every Spring because it’s a little piece of Stacy there with her. They are very colorful and bright just like Stacy. Bychowski talked about all the things that make her laugh when she looks back on her time with Stacy. Bychowski laughed and laughed when she recalled the looks she would get from the cashier when Stacy would want Bychowski to bring home an order of Nachos Bell Grande Fresco (healthy) with extra cheese and a gigantic Mountain Dew. Stacy loved Mountain Dew.

When I do interviews with people I will usually let every person read their answers before I publish it or air it, unless we’re live of course. I let Bychowski look over her answers and she said “Oh, you missed something Christopher is spelled with a K; it’s K-h-r-i-s-t-o-p-h-e-r.” I went back through and corrected the spelling and I thought to myself wow this lady is truly amazing. Not only is she still speaking on behalf of her friend five years later and very happy to do it but I could see the love she has for Stacy’s kids. People like Sharon Bychowski make my job easy and she told me Stacy would appreciate me wanting to know her and would have really liked me. Bychowski wasn’t worried about how long it was going to take for the interview, she didn't look at her watch one time or make me contact over and over trying to figure out what my agenda was or what she might get out of it. That’s what will always keep me driving to do more!

I wrapped up our interview by thanking Bychowski for her time and she responded with “That’s what friends are for and Stacy was my friend.”

(last revised Sept 30, 2012 4:30pm)


Anonymous said...

Mandy always manages to write the different perspectives that we as viewers and followers of these trials, would otherwise not be privy to. I am glad to be able to hear about Sharon Bychowski's wonderful loyalty to her friend Stacy Cales Peterson. :)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful, just beautiful. I am honored to read such a heart warming story about Stacey and Sharon and so very thankful you brought it to us.
Thank you so much

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mandy. For introducing us to this wonderful woman who was Stacy's best friend, and for also letting us know Stacy a little better as well. Sheila oxox

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