If it’s true that Drew Peterson murdered his fourth wife after she found out that he murdered his third wife, this real life account has shadows of the folktale Bluebeard clinging to it. Bluebeard is a tale in which a husband kills one wife after another when they discover their predecessor’s fate as they give in to their feminine curiosity. In the Bluebeard tale feminine curiosity is punished and in the Drew Peterson case it is alleged that the fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, learned the truth about the disappearance of third wife, Kathleen Savio, and for finding out the grisly truth she in turn was murdered.
The fatal effects of feminine curiosity have long been the subject of story and legend. Lot’s wife, Pandora, and Psyche are all examples of women whose curiosity exacted dire consequences. In an illustrated account of the Bluebeard story by Walter Crane, when the wife is shown making her way towards the forbidden room, there is behind her a tapestry of the Serpent enticing Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. — Wikipedia
The Bluebeard tale, an Aarne-Thompson type 312 folktale, has many variations. Here is a short one from Professor D. L. Ashliman’s library of Electronic folk texts:
North Carolina, USA
He had a big basket he car’ed on his back. He’d go to people’s house an’ beg fur something to eat; an’ when de pretty girls would come out an’ gi’ him something to eat, he grabbed ’em in the basket an’ run away wi’ them. He had a fine large place he car’ed ’em to — to his kingdom. He gi’ ’em de keys. He tol’ ’em everything there belonged to them but one room. “Don’t go in there.” He tol’ ’em the day they went in that room,they would be put to death. Married seven times, an’ all was sisters.The seven wife one day, when he was gone away, she taken the keys an ‘looks in dat room. Finds all her sisters dead in there in a pile. She is so excited, she dropped the keys an’ got them bloody. So he comeback an’ call for his keys. She kep’ them hid from him for several days, didn’ want him to see ’em. At las’ she brought them out an’ give them to him. He tol’ her to say a prayer. She prayed seven times. An’ her seven brothers came jus’ as he went to kill her. An’ he ran away into the woods, an’ never been seen since.
Read more variations here.
The Peterson case does not have the happy ending that the folktale does but it will have the happy (and eerie) occurrence of one of the alleged victims speaking — from the grave.
Victim speaks from the grave
The Herald Review reports:
Six years after she mysteriously drowned in a bathtub, Kathleen Savio is finally getting her day in court.
Savio essentially will testify from the grave today, with witnesses expected to tell a judge in Illinois how Savio discussed and wrote about her fears that her husband, former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson,would kill her.
The hearing is expected to provide the first detailed look at evidence prosecutors contend ties Peterson to Savio’s death. It stems from a state law that allows a judge to admit hearsay evidence – testimony from witnesses who recount what they heard from others – in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can prove a defendant killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying.
The Illinois Legislature passed the law after authorities named Peterson a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, then exhumed the body of Savio, his third wife, and reopened the investigation into her 2004 death. Though the bill’s sponsors were careful never to link the law publicly to Peterson, it has been referred to as “Drew’s Law,” and his attorneys have long suggested it was passed to put Peterson behind bars.
During the hearing,which is expected to last three weeks, prosecutors will present to Will County Judge Stephen White about 60 witnesses to testify about 15hearsay statements. White will then decide if the jury can hear any or all of those statements when Peterson stands trial. Peterson has pleaded not guilty to murdering Savio, whose body was found in a dry tub. A trial date hasn’t been set.
While neither side has talked much about the evidence in the case, from the day Peterson was arrested, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow has made it clear that allowing Savio to tell jurors why Peterson wanted her dead is crucial to his case.
“In essence, what you’re basically allowing the victim of a violent crime to do is testify from the grave,”Glasgow, who pushed for passage of the bill, told reporters in May shortly after Peterson was arrested.
Continue reading article here.
Bluebeard by Gustav Doré, public domain
Annette Marie Hyder
From the book The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow
His beard was ghostlight blue,
blue like veins
seen through too thin skin
and pale, like small albino things
with no eyes to see in the dark.
His beard was ghostlight blue.
Lamentations seeded fear.
And it was said
that each hair grew from sorrow,
Sorrow being the name he christened
every new wife with.
How many wives would that be?
And how many sorrows passed away
to his joy and bristling beard?
Lamentations seeded fear.
How did he win them?
His mouth teemed with terroring teeth
above his cudgel-like chin
and the hands that partnered
his lamprey mouth
were long nailed; bent odd at the wrist.
But that mouth won at wooing
His hands caressed the corpses
How did he win them?
There is a need in some
of the purest
to immolate themselves
to the strong.
Each Sorrow feared
to let herself fear
for fear that would
make fears come true.
And each Sorrow’s footsteps
to Bluebeard’s awful room.
Some immolate themselves to the strong.
The final Sorrow
was a special sorrow
a sorrow just for him
his best beloved
and tenderly cherished
cozen coddled victim.
She beat the archetype beast
she bested the brute in the test
of curiosity’s punishment. And yet
who was the cozened
who was the coddled
who the cherished victim?
Links of interest:
Drew Peterson Wikipedia entry
Bluebeard Wikipedia entry
AT Types of Folktales
Professor D. L. Ashliman
Project Gutenburg: The Seven Wives of Bluebeard by Anatole France
SurLaLune Fairy Tales: The Annotated Bluebeard