The state police are trying to keep a lid on why they were poking around Peoria for the body of Stacy Peterson, but the lawyers for the missing mother's husband want to pry that information free.
"We want to know why they're digging in Peoria," said Joel Brodsky, the lead attorney for Stacy's husband -- disgraced former cop Drew Peterson.
"We're curious," Brodsky said. "For a lot of reasons, we're curious."
Peterson is due to stand trial for murder next month -- but not for the death of Stacy. He is charged with killing his previous wife, Kathleen Savio, in March 2004.
Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub while she and Peterson were in the midst of a contentious divorce. Despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding Savio's death, the state police insisted she was the victim of a freak bathtub accident until Stacy Peterson -- Drew Peterson's fourth wife -- vanished in October 2007.
The state police believe Stacy may also have been slain. Shortly after she disappeared, the state police named Peterson the sole suspect in their investigation, but have yet to charge him with harming her.
Acting on a tip earlier this month, the state police headed to a wooded field outside Peoria and started digging for Stacy's body. After excavating for 12 hours, the state police gave up and have yet to return. The only remains the state police unearthed were the skeletons of a pair of opossums.
Brodsky, who has taken potshots at the state police since they launched the Peoria search operation, did so again this week.
"The state police finally have it right," he said. "Stacy is playing possum."
State police Master Sgt. Tom Burek said there is no timetable for resuming the search, but a source with knowledge of the investigation insisted the cops are confident that Stacy is in the ground in that area.
During a hearing last week, Assistant Attorney General Deborah Simpson argued against surrendering investigative reports related to the downstate dig.
"It's an ongoing investigation and the Illinois State Police believe that providing that information will impact their investigation," said Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.
While the state police are now reluctant to tip their hand on the Peoria situation, they seemed a lot looser earlier this year. During a month-long hearing to determine what hearsay evidence will be allowed at Peterson's murder trial, prosecutors flooded the defense with discovery evidence relating to the disappearance of Stacy. A state trooper also testified extensively about the investigation during the hearing, at which prosecutors attempted to prove Peterson killed both Stacy and Savio to keep them from testifying against him at trial.
"During the entire hearsay hearing, this never came up," Brodsky said. "I think that's disingenuous."
Judge Stephen White said he wants the state police to turn the material over to him by Thursday. He plans to review the documents and decide what is relevant for Peterson's attorneys to see. If a representative of the state police refuses to comply on Thursday, White can hold him in contempt of court.
By the Thursday deadline, Brodsky could conceivably figure out what spurred the state police to travel to Peoria. An informant supposedly came forward with information linking Peterson to the downstate site, but Brodsky said he does not know if that is actually the case.
"I have no idea what this is all about," he said. "Probably just someone taking them for a ride."
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