Drew Peterson, whose third wife died mysteriously and fourth wife vanished, had taunted authorities to come and get him -- when he wasn't clowning for the cameras. On Thursday, they came for him.
Peterson, 55, was arrested at an intersection near his home shortly after his indictment in the murder of third wife Kathleen Savio, who was found drowned in an empty bathtub of her Bolingbrook home in March 2004.
The former Bolingbrook police sergeant -- whose bizarre encounters with the media, his neighbors and law enforcement played out on a world stage -- will see his next act, the one that determines if he ever walks free again, unfold in a courtroom.
"Drew has steadfastly maintained his innocence regarding the rumor and innuendo that has circulated regarding the unfortunate death of Kathleen," said Peterson attorney Andrew Abood. "Although he is disappointed with the decision of the state, he looks forward to the opportunity to once and for all prove his innocence in a court of law."
The death of Savio, initially ruled an accident, was reinvestigated after Peterson's then-23-year-old fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in October 2007. Prosecutors said the Stacy Peterson case remained open Thursday night. In connection with the alleged slaying of Savio, Peterson faces two counts of murder and is being held in lieu of $20 million bail, said Will County State's Atty. James Glasgow.
Glasgow declined to discuss the evidence against Peterson, but said prosecutors may seek to admit statements made by Savio, essentially allowing her "to testify from beyond the grave."
"We're ecstatic," Savio's brother, Henry, said. "We're really happy. Drew's arrested, and we're really happy.
"I think my sister is smiling and saying, 'Good, it's about time. It's about time.' "
The rush of relief carried over to Stacy Peterson's family, the couple's neighborhood and everywhere else where people were offended by the ex-cop's flaunting of his freedom with absurd stunts involving dating contests, Nevada brothels and TV appearances with his new 24-year-old girlfriend.
Stacy's relatives still did not have their answers Thursday, but they expected all along that charges would come first in the Savio case.
"I didn't cry," said Stacy's aunt, Candace Aikin. "I'm just so shaky. I don't know if the reality has really hit yet. We've waited long, but the Savio family has waited longer ... justice is starting to roll. I'm very thankful to the Lord for that."
Illinois State Police Capt. Carl Dobrich said investigators tracked more than 1,100 leads in Savio's death and the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, amassing some 500 gigabytes of digital information.
"Our journey has been far and wide; it has been exhausting," Dobrich said at a Thursday night news conference.
Thursday's arrest was coordinated by state police to take place when Peterson was away from home, where his four children were staying. But it also occurred shortly before an 18-month term expired for the special grand jury investigating Savio's death and Stacy Peterson's disappearance.
Glasgow denied the grand jury's time limit had anything to do with the timing of the arrest or the quality of the evidence against Peterson.
"We moved when we felt the time was appropriate, and we're very confident in our case," Glasgow said.
A major concern in the case was the issue of violence against women, an undercurrent that had driven national interest that only grew stronger as Peterson's antics grew more bizarre.
"Clearly we've had a serious situation with violence against women ... and we want to send a strong message that that is a grave and serious matter. It's not a laughing matter as has been made with this case."
Glasgow said he will prosecute the case himself.
Police arrested Peterson at 5:35 p.m. in a traffic stop at Lily Cache Lane and Weber Road in Bolingbrook.
Crime scene investigators arrived at Peterson's house hours later, said Sharon Bychowski, his next-door neighbor and a good friend to Stacy. His sons were taken to the Bolingbrook Police Department, and then transferred to the custody of the state Department of Children and Family Services.
"They walked the children out with blankets on top of them," Bychowski said. "It was awful."
Dobrich told reporters that at Peterson's request, authorities contacted the ex-police officer's oldest son, Stephen, so that he could take custody of them.
On March 1, 2004, neighbors discovered Savio, 40, in an empty bathtub with a 1-inch gash on the back of her scalp. Savio and Peterson had been divorced but details of the settlement were weeks away from being made final when she died.
An autopsy at the time determined she drowned, and a coroner's jury ruled months later -- based largely on state police testimony -- the death was accidental.
Last month, relatives representing Savio's estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson seeking in excess of $300,000 for causing her death, losses arising from it and the injuries she suffered before her murder.
News of Peterson's arrest again drew gawkers to his neighborhood, for months the scene of helicopters and idling TV trucks after Stacy Peterson's disappearance.
"I've been waiting for this to happen," said Ann Parent, who was at her Naperville home when she heard about the arrest. "It's a long time coming."
She was among the onlookers at Pheasant Chase Court Thursday night.
"He created a media circus," she said, as the gathered outsiders spoke to reporters on the block. "Now it's working the other way around."
Volunteers who once searched for Stacy Peterson planned a celebration. One, Mary Boersma, said the group may go to Tailgaters, a bar frequented by Drew Peterson.
Hours after Peterson's arrest, the families of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson said the news carried a sense of relief but left them wanting more.
"It was just like a weight lifted off my shoulders," said Stacy Peterson's sister, Cassandra Cales.
But, said Savio's sister Sue Doman: "It's a bittersweet moment. I wouldn't call it a victory."
"Just another step," she said.
Tribune reporters James Janega, Steve Schmadeke, Matthew Walberg and Hal Dardick and freelance reporters Alicia Fabbre, Dennis Sullivan and Carmen Greco, Jr. contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, CT Now