Fourteen years after her disappearance, investigators searched a body of water in Will County on Tuesday for the remains of Stacy Peterson, the fourth wife of convicted killer Drew Peterson.
The FBI and Illinois State Police brought a boat to the site on the Sanitary and Ship Canal in suburban Lockport after Peterson’s sister Cassandra Cales said teams she had been working with produced images of what appeared to be human remains at the bottom of the canal.
That was in May. On Tuesday, Cales was furious that it had taken so long for State Police to act.
“Why wait 5 months?” she asked. “How many times do I have to hand my sister or whoever it is on a silver platter to them, and again they do nothing?”
ISP - not officially tying the investigation to Stacy Peterson - said in a statement that the agency was searching the area in coordination with the FBI.
"This area has been searched before in recent months with unsuccessful results. The search today was also unsuccessful," ISP said in a statement, adding, "No further information is available at this time."
Cales said she was told after the search only that the area was deemed “clear.”
“The area is clear to their standards,” she said. “But I will be back.”
She wasn’t the only one expressing frustration at ISP’s timing. Michael Johnson, chief of the downstate Fon du Lac Park District Police, provided the boat for the search in May. He said he was convinced that a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) detected images consistent with human remains.
“The photographic imagery we took with the ROV did appear to be a human skull,” he said. “Every day you wait, there’s a chance it’s moved, it’s shifted, it’s covered with silt.”
Johnson said he couldn’t understand why it took so long for investigators to check the find after he pinpointed it five months ago.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 26 years and in central Illinois we all work together,” he said. “It seems frustrating from my standpoint.”
Neither the Illinois State Police nor the FBI would offer an explanation for the delay. But Cales said it made no sense.
“It’s definitely somebody,” she said. “I can’t say it’s my sister, but it’s somebody - and why take so long to retrieve something?”
It’s not the first time she’s brought potential evidence to investigators. Cales said she’s been out with marine units multiple times in the years since her sister’s disappearance.
“Twenty-two days after my sister went missing I had live sonar—full flesh, a female figure, my sister in the water,” she said. “And I’m not going to stop. I’m going to be back. Just because they say it’s good, it’s not good enough for me.”
Cales would not share the images, but did show them to reporters near her suburban home. An underwater video she played on an iPad-type device depicted a clear underwater scene where an object resembling a human skull was clearly visible.
Johnson said he thought the images he saw did reveal a skull and potentially two long bones - which he believed should have spurred a quicker response.
“Could I be wrong, absolutely,” he said. “But it would be something I would put a diver in.”