Before his 2009 arrest, the glib, cocky Drew Peterson seemed to taunt authorities, suggesting a "Win a Date With Drew Contest" and then, after his arrest, "Win a Conjugal Visit With Drew Contest." More recently, his story inspired a TV movie starring Rob Lowe.
The case began with a gruesome discovery. A neighbor came across Savio's body March 1, 2004. She was face down in her dry bathtub, her thick, black hair soaked in blood and a 2-inch gash was on the back of her head.
The death of the aspiring nurse was initially deemed an accident. After Stacy Peterson vanished in 2007, Savio's body was exhumed and re-examined.
Drew Peterson had divorced Savio a year before her death. His motive for killing her, prosecutors said, was fear that a pending settlement would wipe him out financially.
Peterson's personality loomed large over his 2012 trial, illustrated by crowds of bystanders gathered outside the courthouse in a circuslike atmosphere after his conviction last year, cheering as prosecutors walked by and shouting, "Loser. Loser. Loser," at defense attorneys.
The verdict was a vindication for Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow and his team, who gambled by putting on a case they conceded was filled with holes.
Prosecutors suspect Peterson killed his sandy-haired fourth wife because she could finger him for Savio's death, but her body has never been found and no charges have ever been filed. Jurors weren't supposed to link her disappearance to Savio's death, and prosecutors were prohibited from mentioning the subject.
Peterson has maintained his fourth wife ran off with another man and is still alive.
Prosecutors faced enormous hurdles as they tried Peterson for Savio's death.
They had no physical evidence tying him to her death and no witnesses placing him at the scene. They were forced to rely on typically barred hearsay - statements Savio made to others before she died and that Stacy Peterson made before she vanished. Illinois passed a hearsay law in 2008 tailored to Peterson's case, dubbed "Drew's Law," which assisted in making some the evidence admissible at Peterson's trial.
The hearsay - any information reported by a witness not based on the witness' direct knowledge - included a friend testifying that Savio told her Peterson once put a knife to her throat and warned her, "I could kill you and make it look like an accident."
Peterson's attorneys have said they might appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court on grounds the hearsay law is unconstitutional.