Stranger Than Fiction

 Novelist Michael Peterson's Deadly Stair Case  



In the un-humbled opinion of one, Poetic Justice...

Behind The Staircase

                 The Closet Case

"Theoretically, a jury is to make up its mind on the case, on what they heard from the prosecution and the defense. Nothing that is said out side should come into the courtroom, but there was so much media coverage that sometimes it overshadowed what was said in real life inside the courtroom, having a direct effect on everybody in this city, and probably a direct effect on some of the jurors."
-- Mike Peterson movie maker, Denis Poncet

The Filmmaker's New Suit

April 15, 2005

Denis Poncet, heavy hitting money man behind Maha's new movie starring Kathleen Peterson's murder, is bursting at the seams for a new suit. IF Magazine recently ran the following article:


Producer Denis Poncet scornfully disregarded accusations that the film is biased due to a connection he has with the film's subject, Michael Peterson, a Durham newspaper columnist who was tried for murdering his wife.

"There are rumors circulating that I met Michael Peterson at [the University of North Carolina]," Poncet tells iF. "This is absurd. ...I was at UNC when he was in Vietnam." Poncet's voice grew hostile as he hinted at bringing a libel lawsuit against whoever started the rumors about him.

I certainly hope Poncet -- who has sold Mrs. Peterson's murder to ABC, BBC, CBC, and the Sundance Channel -- doesn't now bring a court action and try to make money off of me. Hasn't he had his fill?

Well, if big Denis does come after little ole moi, I'm going to call Jean-Xavier and ask him to videotape every second of the legal wrangling. I'll have Jean document the surprising twists and turns in the unjust persecution of a poor, innocent . . . bisexual . . . blogger.

Sorry. I can't help it. I'm very Bi.

Speaking of unfounded rumors and trumped up charges, there's this bizarre accusation -- from an interview with Monsieur Poncet at CTV:

In a recent book called "Written in Blood," the author spreads the most stupid rumor, and it is that Michael and I had known each other for 30 years, and had met in North Carolina. This is the kind of garbage that really has gone very far during the whole trial and after the trial. If people who spread that type of rumor would just take a few seconds to just think. Michael is 7 years older than I am. I went to graduate school in 1971 at UNC. And Michael at the time was in Vietnam, and he never went to UNC anyway, he was at Duke.

Methinks Maha doth protest too much.



Okay, I think I've got this straight. . .

It seems Brad from Raleigh was able to seduce Judge Robert H. Hobgood from Wake County into believing the only reason the DA's office would not accept a plea bargain down from his 2003 felony drug charges, was knowledge of the felonious activities SoldierTop boasted about on his home page while being housed at Fort Bragg.

The male escort who, in front of Judge Hudson, threw up his hands and gleefully shouted, "I know diddley!" . . . quietly reasoned to Judge Hobgood that he selflessly gave up his 5th amendment rights to help the community put away a "monster" -- but in payment for his tender services rendered, the DA was piling dirty charges on top of his technically clean slate.


The con artist formally known as Dr. Karl Smith, successfully argued that in a sense -- his grant of artificial virginity was being violated, in that, genuine first timers would normally be allowed the decency to plea down to lesser misdemeanor counts.

Of course in order to prove that Wake County Assistant District Attorney, Amy Paschaloudis, was prejudiced by his reluctant, supporting role in the Peterson trial -- Wolgamott was forced to call his own attorney, Thomas F. Loflin III, to the stand.

Just as Brent/Brad had proved that, in reality, there is no such thing as immunity from crime -- even your own -- Loflin's testimony on behalf of the hapless hooker, no doubt called undo attention to the lawyer. Loflin took the stand, using his real name, and apparently the name rang a bell with someone at the Department of Revenue.

Dr. Karl got lucky and cut a deal, but he didn't get off lightly. Wolgamott is now serving a 45-day suspended jail term and 18 months probation, after having pled guilty to three misdemeanor counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of attempting to.

On March 23rd, attorney Tom Loflin surrendered to authorities and was charged with willfully failing to file taxes for the last six years. His wife, Ann, was also arrested and taken before a magistrate concerning missing returns dating back to 1998.

Thomas Loflin

Why Loflin thought he could make money from his very public activities but not pay taxes may become clear at his mid-April hearing, but I think we know what's coming. . . one of those rare cases when the defense attorney ends up doing more time than his client.

Lestrade's Fraud

March, 2005

Spanning 77 volumes with 13,423 pages, the full transcript of NC v MP was finally finished and distributed to all interested parties. I'm certain at least one copy was mailed to Thomas Maher -- most likely C.O.D. The final cost to tax-payers for the written record is $41,544.00.

In the meantime, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and Denis Poncet have been busy distributing their own unique version of the events surrounding Monsieur Peterson and his accidental insurance policy.

Maha's myopic movie, "Death on the Staircase" has been sold to unsuspecting television audiences all over the world. The fantasy film -- which blames George W. Bush for killing Peterson's wife -- will soon be sneaking up on the US again when an 8-hour version of the mockumentary hits the Sundance Channel.

For those who prefer non-fiction, Lestrade's fraud has now officially been laid bare. The faux film is debunked at the website:

Behind The Staircase:

WRITTEN IN BLOOD - Diane Fanning
Written in Honor

The Truth is Marching On

February, 2005

Durham County court reporters are still trying to finish a final transcript of the Michael Peterson saga, but as far as I'm concerned -- with the publication of Diane Fanning's book, "Written in Blood," the official record is now complete.

Fanning provides a full account of the epic Peterson murder mystery. Her writing is superb. Most importantly, Diane Fanning has written a true-crime book focused more on the truth than on the crime, and in that sense, her work honors the spirit of the victim, Kathleen Hunt Atwater.

Rich with devastating details and ironic insights into the stranger than fictional world of Michael Peterson, Diane Fanning's book is a triumph. She has untangled the impossibly complex and grotesquely contorted story of money, malice and murder and laid it bare for all to see.

"Written in Blood" fills in the familiar framework of the notorious North Carolina case with important new details (the strange death of George Ratliff) and bits of dialogue (Peterson to Candace: "I can either turn the heat on or buy four plots. I can't afford to do both."), and a treasure trove of background information. (The secret of the red carnation.)

Diane even manages to out-Peterson Peterson, with her vivid rendering of his anxiously offered heroics in battle during the Vietnam War.

Not content to merely expose the decades of deceit, petty greed and random violence that led to Michael's premeditated murder -- Diane Fanning goes on to give a nearly day by day account of the contentious, 5-month trial.

The cynical showboating and underhanded courtroom strategies of deluded defense teammates, Rudolf and Maher, are painfully rendered. Accounts of Caitlin Atwater's dawning horror throughout the legal ordeal are particularly effective.

Diane's summation of the marathon murder trial forces her reader to feel every stinging insult Peterson's courtroom charade added to the vicious injury he caused Kathleen Peterson and so many, many others.

Kathleen Peterson

Diane Fanning's "Written in Blood" is a beautifully written record of the truth.

I believe her superbly crafted monument will bring some measure of satisfaction to Kathleen Peterson and Elizabeth Ratliff's family and friends, and to those of us who never knew Michael Peterson, but who agonized over his senseless killing during the disconcerting courtroom drama.

The truth is marching on and we move on with it.

Thank you, Diane. The book is perfect. As with the brilliant work of columnist, Tom Gasparoli, it is most ironic that Michael Peterson's evil fictions would finally serve as the subject of such masterful writing.


sentenced to life

without the possibility of parole


October 10, 2004

It's been said, "time heals all wounds" -- but that's a lie.

Some wounds are so deep they'll never heal.

A year after Michael Peterson was given a life sentence for the deadly beating of his wife and "soulmate," Kathleen Peterson -- the wounds are still very fresh. They still hurt deeply. And over time, in many respects, the pain is far worse.

There are many people who suffer constant and chronic pain due to medical conditions who nonetheless, find a way to live with it. They learn to share their lives with the pain -- to marry it -- realizing that the pain will always be with them. Waking up in the morning, taking the dog for a walk, having lunch, reading a book, watching TV, or drifting off to sleep -- the pain, though it may strengthen and weaken, will for ever and ever be constant companion.

Just as a patient doesn't get to pick a particular medical condition, one doesn't get to select a soulmate. We don't decide such matters. They're decided for us.

If fate should happen to bring us to our soulmate -- all we can know for certain is that the encounter will never end -- even at death. The only option that affords some measure of control then, is to learn from the constant companion -- to "go to school" on our soulmate.

Despite the sporadic and often excruciating shocks of recognition, the process of learning from one's own pain is empowering. It reduces stress and relieves anxiety. People who suffer persistent pain have no choice but to literally learn to embrace it -- or give up.

Time can't heal all wounds. Time has no relevance to a life sentence of pain. But pain is not the same thing as suffering, and the suffering doesn't have to continue.

We're in control of the suffering and agony, and we suffer because we desire. We desire what's true to somehow be shown false. We desire what's fact to become fiction. We desire what's forever to come to an immediate end.

A year after Michael Peterson was pronounced "Guilty" of inflicting a series of wounds to his wife and leaving her to slowly bleed to death in a stairwell -- a year after Peterson turned his back on the court and to his sobbing children mouthed the words, "I love you" -- a year later, no one on either side has decided to give up.

For those still clinging to the horrible hope that in time, reality will turn out to be an illusion -- not giving up means their suffering will never end. For those who've lost all hope but are finding the courage to understand -- time is on their side, and their wounded hearts may one day heal.

"An innocent person was convicted."
-- David Rudolf, October 2004

David Rudolf

blunt force trauma of the head
"Evidence, I guess you would call it lifestyle issues... Michael's e-mail contact and phone contact with other men -- whether that was relevant. I think there was issue about the way some of the search was conducted, whether his computer should've been seized."
-- Thomas Maher, currently preparing Peterson's appeal
multiple (at least 7) deep, complex lacerations
and avulsions to the posterior scalp
"I believe that the appellate court will grant Michael a new trial, where the issues will be tried on the evidence about what happened in the stairway, not on Michael's sexuality or another woman's death 18 years ago."
-- David Rudolf, assisting Maher
multiple contusions consistent with lacerations
"This wouldn't have happened to him if my sister wasn't beaten to a pulp at the bottom of the steps."
-- Candace Zamperini
multiple abrasions and contusions on the face
"It was the most complex case I've ever tried and the longest case I've ever tried. It took me quite a while afterward, several months, to build up enough energy to try a serious case again. That trial drained me emotionally."
-- Orlando F. Hudson
early acute ischemic neuronal necrosis
"I wanted this community to understand what happened to Kathleen Peterson ... Very rarely is there a successful capital prosecution where the evidence is primarily based on circumstance."
-- Jim Hardin
contusions of back, posterior arms, wrists and hands
"Mr. Peterson is doing well."
-- Kerry Sutton
neck fracture with associated hemorrhage
of the left superior cornu of the thyroid cartilage
"Nothing's different. Nothing's better. Michael Peterson ruined my life. He's a monster. I hate to say it because he's my brother-in-law, but he is."
-- Lori Campbell

Written in Blood

Peterson has denied requests for interviews and is reportedly writing a book about his case. Fiction, no doubt.

Various articles and books have been recently published, but Texas writer,
Diane Fanning, has finally completed her work on PETERSON EAST.

Diane Fanning, a superbly gifted writer whose talent and unique perspective qualify her as a living American treasure, has titled her book: "Written in Blood."

Reality Checks...

"And then just before we closed our case,
one of those things happened that every
defense lawyer dreams about happening in a
case that never happens -- but in this case it did."

-- David Rudolf

and Dream Balances

September 30, 2004

Kathleen Peterson's daughter, Caitlin Atwater, has finally reached a settlement with Prudential Insurance. Atwater's attorney, Jay Trehy said she will share the money with Fred Atwater, Kathleen Peterson's first husband.

The insurance money, much of which Michael Peterson imagined would pay for his dream team of attorneys, amounted to about $1.4 million.

Next comes the legal battle over $384,000 in NORTEL benefits that were immediately paid out to Kathleen Peterson's killer -- a clear violation of federal law. NORTEL'S reluctance to bring this matter to a quick and quiet close is alarming. The bad publicity and loss of public confidence in the company is far worse than having to part with the 401(K) and pension money Kathleen Peterson earned.

Caitlin Atwater is now studying at Cornell University and, ironically, says she hopes to become a lawyer. That's all the evidence any reasonable person needs as proof that, despite the harsh, bitter, twisted landscape of Michael Peterson's fictions, the real world is a place of moonlit memories balanced by warm sunny dreams -- a place of poetic justice.

"We are such stuff
as dreams are made on
and our little life
is rounded with a sleep."

From Shakespeare's,

Backstage Pass

August 2

Those familiar with the miserable Michael Peterson saga, know that nothing is ever what it first appears to be. There's always a twist, and tracking the Peterson case requires patiently waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The recently aired defense dominated documentary,
"The Stair Case," is no exception.

It has now become clear that
Denis Poncet, the producer of Maha productions, may have personally known Michael Peterson since they were in Durham in the 1970's. Research from suspecting PETERSON EAST case followers has revealed that the novelist and the producer were also in Vietnam -- and later, Paris -- at the same times.

"Do you really believe that lightning strikes twice in the same place? Do you? Do you really believe that this was a huge coincidence? Maybe you do."
-- Freda Black's closing argument


August 2, 2004

Realtors finally moved the Michael Mansion off the market. The house of horrors at 1810 Cedar Street was sold to Jason Balius and his wife, Anastasia for $640,000 -- far less than the original asking price of $1.175 million.

"From what we've found, every aspect of Mike Peterson's life was a lie."
-- Jim Hardin


July 26, 2004

I was not ready for the crime scene photos shown in the ABC/Maha special "The Stair Case." The sudden flash of pictures showing Kathleen Peterson's body posed at the bottom of her stairs was very shocking and disturbing for me. I felt sick after what I saw, and I was angry and upset to have those outrageous photos shown.

My impulse was to turn off the television, but I got a hold of myself and continued to watch. As it turned out, the pictures, as horrendous as they were, properly set the stage for two hours of delusion, denial and disgrace from Mr. Michael Peterson and company.

After the densely detailed documentary ended, I was willing to concede that the crime scene photos weren't perhaps as bad as I had first thought. I simply had never seen those awful pictures before. I over-reacted.

I still find it absolutely unacceptable to show the victim's actual murdered corpse on a national television broadcast, however, considering the impact those images had -- appearing early on in what was to be a defense-oriented documentary -- I'm willing to say, it's just as well that the ugly truth was seen.

We cannot hide our eyes. The monster that attacked Kathleen Peterson is very real. Michael Peterson's murder should be exposed and examined.

If the horror had been properly investigated, documented and photographed back in 1985 -- Kathleen Peterson might well be alive today.

Kathleen Peterson

"We were just talking and finishing our drinks, and then she said, 'I gotta go in because I got a conference call in the morning.' And the last I saw her was when I was there and she was just walking here, and that's it. That was the last time I saw Kathleen alive -- no -- she was alive when I found her... but, barely."
-- Peterson

No -- she was alive when I found her...

Click for Quotes and Photos
from the Maha Documentary

Hosted by Cynthia McFadden, "The Stair Case" airs Thursday, July 22. It is a collaboration between ABC and Maha Productions in Paris.

Hizzoner's Horror Movie

July 20, 2004

It was always suspected this documentary would be slanted in favor of the defense team -- but the fact is -- that arrangement was agreed to back when the defendant was still waiting to sneak up behind everybody and hit them over the head with his FAUX POKE.

Team Peterson was so confident their last-minute production of the un-mangled, un-bloody "murder weapon" would shock and awe the jury and create doubt, they completely lost touch with reality.

Neither Hizzoner nor Hizz lawyers would ever have consented to having a camera capturing their giggles and guffaws during Kathleen Peterson's murder trial if they thought the jurors -- to a one -- would reject the theory of a fall.

By the time the French film crew was shooting footage of the hidden bombshell/blowpoke being miraculously recovered amidst cobwebs and dust bunnies in Peterson's garage/basement -- jurors had long since dismissed the defense's contention that Kathleen Peterson wasn't murdered.

Apparently the prosecution wasn't very involved with the documentary -- and that's as it should be. It speaks to the quiet dignity of the exemplary Durham County prosecutors.

I'm glad the buffoonery and back-slapping has been captured on film, up-close and personal. I'm glad it's on the record.

One moment I hope gets documented is the afternoon Michael Peterson turned around to his family and friends, smiled devilishly, and mouthed the words, "Todd did it."

Or Forever Hold Your Peace

May 26, 2004

Clayton Peterson's wedding website includes a section, theatrically called the "Cast," which lists each member of the wedding party. For obvious reasons, certain names have been dropped from the production, which is set for May 29.

Midway through Clayton's biography, the website mentions that he attended high school in Germany and then had "a brief stay at Duke." The site goes on to say: "We all know what happened next."

Not sure of what we ALL know, I can only speak for myself. As far as I know -- what happened next was the same thing that had been happening for years.

I know in Durham, as in Frankfurt, Clayton was found by authorities to be dangerously out of control. Topping off a host of drunken and reckless driving charges, Michael Peterson's son was caught trying to blow up a Duke administration building with pipebombs.

I know Clayton was sentenced to four years in prison for that crime which his father tried to excuse away as a harmless prank.

I know that a few years ago, Clayton Peterson got violent and shoved his long-time girlfriend, and that she pressed assault charges against him in the case.

Now, under the old rule -- "don't say in private what you wouldn't say in public" -- I'll hold my tongue here, just as many people will in Durham when the preacher asks if anyone knows of a reason why the marriage should not go forward. But I must say, it adds a frightening dimension to the saw:

Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed,
Something blue.

Times Ahead

Kathleen Peterson

Candace Zamperini
and Lori Campbell

Kathleen's Mom, Veronica Hunt
and Daughter, Caitlin Atwater

"Kathleen was so capable.
She died so young, with so many
promising times ahead."
-- Veronica Hunt

Michael Peterson's Mother


Mike Peterson -- May 4, 2001

In fact, very soon, Durham Regional will cease to exist as a full service hospital. Only one person gets to say, "I told you so," me, because three years ago I warned that this very thing would happen. I take no pride in the prediction because anyone could, and should have seen it coming. So what about the millions owed the city in "lost" water, another story I first broke?

Mike Peterson -- May 25, 2001

That is inexcusable, an abnegation of the public trust! It is incompetence. It is fraud pretending to govern responsibly while squandering other people's money.

May, 2004

Typically, a non-capital murder trial in North Carolina lasts a week and costs taxpayers about $13,000. Recently reported figures reveal that the prosecution of Michael Peterson has already cost $421,000, and the bills are still coming in from the five-month ordeal.

Peterson's case will likely be the most expensive in state history.

Having it Both Ways


I enjoy your emails also. 1410 SAT huh? So what the f*ck were you doing in the Army? I'm sure I was the smartest Marine ever, went to Duke and UNC Law, but I didn't get 1410. Of course, this was in the days Duke let dummies in . . .

It may not be fair -- but Brent Wolgamott will forever be associated with Michael Peterson. Not because he fought in Vietnam alongside Peterson, co-authored books with him or aided his political campaigns, but because Wolgamott was the giggling prostitute at Michael's murder trial.

Peterson, who at first insisted his involvement with gay prostitutes was innocent research for a book, was clearly mortified as proof of his lies about a perfect marriage strutted proudly into the courtroom and took a seat on the witness stand.

Brent Wolgamott smiled like he'd just won first place on American Idol. He was happy and proud to tell the jury about his double life as an enlisted soldier in the US Army and a hooker.

Targeting wealthy, older, married men -- the fraud called himself "Brad" and trolled for victims on the internet, charging them $150 for an hour of fiction.

Wolgamott's enthusiastic performance at trial was surprising, mostly because he'd repeatedly refused to testify and only begrudgingly agreed to it after negotiating an immunity deal.

Going past giggly to giddy, Wolgamott gushed on cross-examination about how innocent it all was. He explained that his suckers had their time with him and returned to their "happy hubby lives."

The grinning grifter bounced out of the courtroom having testified that he never actually had sex with the defendant and that, as to the murder of Kathleen Peterson -- "I know diddly!"

It can't have been more than a few weeks later when Wolgamott was arrested trying to pull off some other scheme. This time he wasn't "Brad" he was "Dr. Karl Smith" -- signing fake prescriptions to buy drugs at a K-Mart pharmacy.


Brent Wolgamott is no longer laughing. He is currently charged with five counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud.

Stealing a page from the David Rudolf playbook, Wolgamott's lawyer, Thomas Loflin, claims his client shouldn't be punished for his crimes because the district attorney bringing the charges ... is biased.

Assistant Wake DA, Amy Paschaloudis denies that the hapless hooker's high profile influenced her during plea negotiations. "It wasn't a factor at all," Paschaloudis told reporters.

A hearing will be scheduled to resolve that issue, but since both Paschaloudis and Loflin will have to testify, Dr. Brent Brad Wolgamott now has another problem -- he needs to find himself a new lawyer...

Are you thinking who I'm thinking?

Fair or not -- David Rudolf will forever be associated with Michael Peterson's exceedingly gay prostitute. Brent should email Rudolf and see what he's charging per hour these days.

Writer's Cramp
Writer's Cramp

Solitary Confinement

Six-Month Check Up

April 07, 2004

On March 25, the Nash Correctional Institution's Inmate #0816932 was placed on "administrative segregation" and put in a severed cell. Prisoner Peterson's solitary confinement will continue pending the completion of a prison investigation.

Exactly what Peterson did to be put in the prison's prison is -- as usual -- a big mystery. Nash County prison officials won't tell anyone anything. Superintendent, Bonnie Boyette, described the fiction writer's latest sentence as

an opportunity to isolate him from other inmates during an internal investigation.

As of yet there's no word on whether defense attorney, Thomas Maher is organizing a protest march like the one Hizz defenders held for Peterson when he was first arrested for beating Kathleen Peterson to death in her own home.

"We're very disappointed that he's been charged, particularly disappointed that the D.A. decided to treat this in a fast manner."
-- Thomas Maher - December, 2001

"It was a fishing expedition. My dad has been their [Durham police] harshest critic, and they are trying to silence him to a degree. This is a sham from the start."
-- Todd Peterson - January, 2002

"Brad knows about Kathleen Peterson.
The e-mails say nothing about a desire to
harm his wife ... If even one juror looks at
Mr. Peterson and says, 'Oh, my God.
This guy's gay,' Mr. Peterson has been
denied a fair trial."

-- Thomas Maher - August, 2003

Tunnel Revision

March 25, 2004

"Tunnel vision is what happened in this case," David Rudolf instructed the Durham jury on Thursday, October 2, toward the end of his closing statement.

As proof, he pointed out that the fireplace blower/poker prosecutors alleged Michael Peterson concealed after beating his wife -- was never missing -- it had been sitting in the defendant's garage/basement but was overlooked by police.

"The state developed what is called tunnel vision," Rudolf lectured. "They just ignored the fact that it wasn't missing. It just hadn't been used in several years." In a very persuasive argument, Peterson's primary attorney told jurors the blowpoke was irrelevant.

The smooth talking attorney had no comment however, when word first surfaced last week that Michael Peterson had purchased two blowpokes and had them shipped to his home by overnight air on Monday September 29. Several newspapers featured a quote from Alechia Maguire, manager of Hurlbutt Designs in Kennebunk, Maine: "Someone identifying himself as Mike Peterson . . . left a message that he needed them immediately."

Second-string defender, Thomas Maher -- now head counselor at camp Peterson -- said he had
"no specific memory" about the poker order. Certainly Mr. Maher remembers David Rudolf's made-for-television surprise introduction of the blowpoke in the final hours of trial. He must have a specific memory of Perry Mason preparing his clever closing argument.

Does Maher recall the "tunnel vision" speech about an irrelevant poker that was overlooked and collecting dust in the basement? Or does the assistant attorney remember helping Rudolf rehearse an elaborate blowpoke demonstration?

Which is it? Because, Mr. Rudolf is now publicly claiming HE was the one who ordered the duplicate murder weapons just days before summations, planning to use them as tunnel visual aids.

Mr. Maher's memory of the final days of his biggest failure may be fuzzy, but Dave Rudolf now specifically remembers deciding at the last minute, he would NOT do a blowpoke demonstration. He reasoned the new pokers were "too different" from the old poker (the one police never found), and decided "a demonstration in closing of what would happen if you hit someone over the head with a blowpoke was not needed."

"Frankly, I thought it would be over the top," Rudolf joked. "The blowpokes . . . are probably still in my office."

Before either of them slip much further down Peterson's path, the Stairway Killer's defense team would do well to pause and really look at where Michael Peterson's illusions/lies finally landed him. Rudolf's pickin' and Maher's grinnin' throughout the criminal phase of Kathleen Peterson's trial was, by all accounts, a horrendous mistake.

The pool of fiction pouring from unremorseful, unrepentant prisoner Peterson -- followed by the fountain of ludicrous stories coming out of Durham about attack owls, Cartier watches, and make-believe blowpoke demos has reached a saturation point. The next wave of nonsense threatens to flood everyone involved in a horrendous disgrace.

"As a lawyer, Kerry Sutton has toiled long, emotionally draining hours for her murdering friend, and she has not been compensated. If Peterson can pay her back just a little bit by giving her his watch, that's fine with us."
-- Jay Trehy

Semper Fidelis

The United States Army may be opening an investigation into the death of Defense Department teacher, Elizabeth Ratliff with "an eye toward a federal prosecution of Peterson," Jim Hardin said.

"A request was made of us by the U.S. Army ... to cooperate in the investigation of Elizabeth Ratliff's death," Hardin told reporters. "I don't know what it means. But they asked us to cooperate. I feel an obligation to do that."

Asked if Army investigators from Fort Bragg were in Durham getting information about the murder in Germany, investigator, Art Holland offered, "That's what it looks like to me. They wanted our cooperation, and we said we would give it."

Ratliff and Peterson weddings

For Better, For Worse

Clayton Peterson and Rebecca Seibert

March 10, 2004

Following in the footsteps of his famous father, Clayton Peterson is publicly making plans for a splashy wedding in Durham.

"Hello! Welcome to our wedding website," is the cheerful greeting for visitors to the new cyber home of Clayton and his intended, Rebecca Seibert. "The wedding will take place on Saturday, May 29," the site says, and notes a ceremony at "the Pergola of the Sarah P. Duke Memorial Gardens" and a reception at the Greystone Mansion.

"Bride's Attendants" will include Margaret and Martha Ratliff, and the "Groom's Attendants" are Todd Peterson -- listed as "Best Man, brother and stud" -- and a Mr. Benjamin Maynor. Peterson trial trackers may recall that Todd initially told police that the used condom found at the Cedar Street crime scene belonged to Ben Maynor, who left it behind after using the Peterson's bedroom for a sexual tryst with a nurse that weekend.

Mentioned among the website's suggested area restaurants is the "Pao Lim." The bistro was also mentioned in a cryptic e-mail from Michael Peterson to his wife four days before he killed her. ("If ONLY we hadn't gone to Pao Lim. Let's work on our marriage tonight.")

The nearly-weds say they live in Maryland and "recently bought a home in historic Federal Hill, south of Baltimore's Inner Harbor."

Eerily reminiscent of testimony about Kathleen Peterson's on-going battle with the Cedar mansion's bats, bugs and busted water pipes, Clayton's wedding webpage says the house, "like any good 100-year old rowhome . . . is falling apart at the seams." The couple happily notes, "between fixing a leaky shower, and discovering an electrician's worst nightmare," they're getting "all kinds of practice for their grand remodeling plans, which will begin some time after the wedding."

Pictured on the site are the smiling young couple and their two dogs, apparently named Hamlet and Ophelia.

Two Shakespearean passages come to mind. King Claudius' marriage speech:

Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy --
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole --
Taken to wife

And Prince Hamlet's famous Act I rejoinder:

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

Hizzoner on Hard Times

March 5, 2004

One-time mayoral candidate and globe-trotting millionaire Mike says officers took his watch as evidence during a house search the night he murdered his wife, Kathleen Peterson. He wants it back. Peterson has filed a motion in Durham County Superior Court demanding the police return his watch.

Mike Peterson:
Takes a licking and keeps on sickening.

Will somebody please tell me why a man doing hard time needs a wrist watch? You're serving a life sentence, Mike. It's always the same time for you -- Jail Time.

Since we know Hizzoner ran around the mansion for at least two hours doing dishes, wiping walls and cleaning up around the spouse -- he should be able to estimate the hour without a clock.

The days of the week shouldn't be too difficult to remember either:

Jury selection began on a Monday -- May 5;
The fateful Jury View of the Cedar Mansion happened on Tuesday, September 11;
Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001 was to be the very first meeting with the male hooker formally known as, "BRAD."
and David Rudolf gave his infamous "Top 10" Letterman-style closing on a Thursday;

Weekends should be hard to forget:

On Friday, October 10, Peterson was found GUILTY of murder one;
On a Saturday night he killed Kathleen Peterson:
and Michael announced that late on a Sunday night, Elizabeth Ratliff had accidentally fallen.

Peterson's latest wrist watch stunt deserves a big hand. Accusing the long arm of the law of not giving him all the time he's due is truly warped.

You must remember this,
A dis is still a dis,
A trial is still a trial --
Jail can make a grown cry
As time goes by.

"Outrageous Lies!"

"It had nothing to do with what was real."

March, 2004

Convicted killer and fictional writer, Michael Peterson, recently shared some shocking words with reporter Katina Rankin of WTVD. The disturbing news in Peterson's first interview since being found guilty of beating Kathleen Peterson to death, is that he's still making up the same old stories.

      "If you are innocent . . ."

"If you are innocent you don't think you're going to be convicted."

"I was shocked. I didn't believe it. I didn't believe it would happen. When the woman read guilty, I was -- just, just flinched back... But then what can you do? So, yes, I was very surprised."

"I certainly didn't kill Kathleen."

"From the beginning from the first day, the district attorney said this is the weapon. He killed his wife with this. Over and over and over again, the blowpoke, the blowpoke. And then -- oh -- it wasn't the blowpoke."

"Well of course I thought, well, that's the only thing he's basing his case on is this blowpoke, and then it wasn't the blow poke -- so of course I thought, well for all of these other reasons including the fact that I certainly didn't kill Kathleen -- well, I certainly didn't kill her with the blowpoke -- so I thought of course, this solves the problem for the case.

And then I find out it didn't even make any difference to the jury. Something else must have caused those injuries, but nobody knows what."

"It was just awful."

"To hear them describe Liz's death, this woman that I have known forever. I raised her children. This is the mother of these children, and then they would bring in the autopsy photographs, pictures of her in the coffin. It was just awful."

"I can't imagine that it wouldn't [impact the jury]. Every day in the newspaper. It was a major event. The prosecution goes to Germany. The coffin is exhumed. The coffin goes Chapel Hill. The body is examined. On and on. It was the main focus for weeks before the trial and once the trial began. The macabre fascination. What does the body look like after 18 years in the grave... for anybody to say that that didn't have affect, that's just insanity. That's just an outrageous lie to say that didn't have an affect on them."

"I mean it had nothing, nothing to do with what was real, it had nothing to do with anything... to see that, and see what it did to Margaret and Martha -- that hurt. It was just awful. That hurt I suppose as much as anything did."

    "It's the loss of them that is so painful."

"The worst thing that happened, happened in the past. Losing Kathleen, losing my children. That's done with. That was the worst. So when the worst already happens, you can deal with anything that happens after that."

"I have pictures in my cell of her and it's comforting. So that helps, but if I stop to think about what it meant now that she's gone, or I have pictures of the children or the dogs, they help, on a superficial basis to see, but if I start to think about them deeply -- it's the loss of them that is so painful. If I stop and think about Kathleen, I cry."

"If I stop and think about Kathleen, I cry."

"The male witness voiced his belief that Ratliff may have walked up the stairs, blacked out at the top of the stairs and fallen down them as a result. The male witness seemingly wanted to dominate the interviews and interject the 'correct' information."
-- Steve Lyon's notes

"When I called 9-1-1, I thought she'd fallen down the stairs. As far as I know, that's what happened."
-- Michael Peterson

February 8, 2004

Tom Gasparoli, one of the finest journalists in America, has taken his show on the road.


Mystery on Cedar Street
Friday the 13th, February 2004
"Dateline NBC" airs TV Special

"When Michael Peterson’s wife Kathleen was found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs, he told police that she fell. Durham, N.C., police thought it was murder. But with no witnesses and no weapon, it would be a difficult case to prove. Then, investigators uncovered an unbelievable twist. Had Peterson done the same thing before? Correspondent Dennis Murphy reports for a special two-hour Dateline Exclusive."

Caitlin Atwater
One More Step
Toward Justice

Peterson Found Financially Liable

January 16, 2004

Compared to the fiction writer's mind-bending murder trial, the hearing on Caitlin Atwater's civil suit was completely by the book.

For one thing, lead attorney and camera hog, David Rudolf, wasn't waving fireplace tools and wildly objecting. In his place was a mortified Thomas Maher who quietly told reporters "I'm not being paid for being here. I'm appointed to his appeal and that's the situation." And while the criminal trial was five months -- the hearing lasted about five minutes. Also Michael Peterson wasn't there and neither was stepdaughter, Caitlin Atwater who was represented by Jay Trehy.

But Judge Orlando Hudson was again on the bench, and in his usual charming, affable way, agreed with Jay Trehy that Peterson "did intentionally, maliciously, willfully and wantonly assault and kill" his wife Kathleen Peterson, and is financially liable.

The amount of monetary damages will be decided at a jury trial to be held in May, but Trehy said the ruling was "just one more step in seeing to it that full justice is received for Kathleen Peterson and that her life is valuable."

Other steps include Caitlin Atwater's federal case against Kathleen Peterson’s former employer NORTEL NETWORKS, who quickly paid out $300,000 in benefit money to Michael Peterson -- and the potential criminal trial against Peterson for the murder of Elizabeth Ratliff.

"She sat through this everyday and had to listen to that horrible evidence in tedious detail about how her mother died a long and brutal death. Why should she have to undergo that again?"
-- Trehy

"She went into an emotional meltdown and it's only to be anticipated from such a young woman -- who's been an incredibly brave woman."
-- Trehy

"She's been quiet since the verdict. She's trying to get back to college and is grieving after a long trial."
-- Trehy

"If he ever wrote a book or chapter or article or anything, and tries to make money out of what he's done then Caitlin Atwater will be able to come in and collect on those assets."
-- Trehy

"As far as I know, he has no assets."
-- Maher

"Now, we're going to still pursue the appeal but in terms of law and contesting the civil trial, we just felt like we weren't in a position to do that."
-- Maher

"He is doing well in prison, given the circumstances."
-- Maher

"The circumstances are obviously horrible. But he's strong. He's keeping his head up. He's very concerned about his family. He's making the best of a bad situation."
-- Maher

"I always wondered what my life would have been as a porn star. My Cecil B. DeMille moment was poster boy for the Marines, posters in every recruit office in America-- but that was long ago."

-- Michael Peterson email to prostitute, "BRAD"


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