Depending on the year, somewhere around 15,000 people are murdered annually in the United States. But only a couple of the crimes each year manage to capture the popular imagination of the public and the press. Sometimes (as in the case of Natalee Holloway or JonBenet Ramsey), it's because the victim has a memorable personal story. When it comes to press coverage, there's nothing more compelling than a murder case that touches on the story of a childhood innocence lost.
But the other factor likely to grab media attention is what I call the "They're a complete tool" factor. The case has a murder suspect that is seen by the press and public as manipulative and evil. It's hard to define, but certain suspects ooze that vague creepiness that almost begs for over-the-top media coverage.
That quality is certainly part of the reason why the press and public quickly became obsessed with the case of Stacy Peterson. She was originally reported as missing by her sister in October 2007 and the fact that she was a young mother of four with a million-dollar smile certainly made her interesting. But once the press began talking to her husband Drew Peterson, the case became a national sensation.
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The story of the Stacy Peterson disappearance is the centerpiece of the two-hour special "Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery," which premieres on Investigation Discovery on Sunday, August 27th, starting at 9/8c. The special focuses on Stacy's husband Drew because he quickly became the focus of the investigation. In part because of his unique combination of arrogance, manipulative behavior and a seemingly lack of interest in what might have happened to his young wife Stacy.
Drew Peterson was a local police sergeant who intimately knew the criminal justice system. And once investigators began examining his life, it quickly became apparent that Peterson was quite frankly, a bit of a scumbag. He had been married several times before and in fact had been sneaking Stacy into the basement of the house he shared with his previous wife while they were married. Drew Peterson claimed Stacy had left him and run away with another man, but there didn't seem to much evidence to support that theory. But there was plenty of evidence that Drew had used his law enforcement background to harass and control Stacy and his previous wives.
I was familiar with the Drew Peterson case from the intense media coverage, but this special nicely fills in all of the details and there is plenty to cover. Including the fact that Stacy Peterson was not the first of Drew Peterson's wives to meet with an unhappy ending. Drew Peterson's life was a unsettling, creepy mess and watching the movie leaves you with the feeling that you might need to take a shower afterwards before you'll feel clean again.
Overall, "Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery," is a well-made special, which does a nice job of balancing the mix of participant interviews and recreations. This format is the sweet spot for Investigation Discovery and they do it very well. That expertise helps with this type of special, because it allows the viewer to focus on the story and not be distracted by clunky editing or stilted acting.
Even if you're already familiar with the story of Stacy Peterson, I'd recommend watching "Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery." Stacy deserves to be remembered and it's also important to be reminded of what a complete tool Drew Peterson was/is. He's not the worst person in the world, but he's not far from the top of the list, either.
"Drew Peterson: An American Murder Mystery" premieres on Investigation Discovery on Sunday, August 27th, starting at 9/8c.