At 2am on December 9, 2001, a 911 call for help was made in Durham County in North Carolina, United States, by novelist and retired Vietnam veteran Michael Peterson (see photo below). During the call, Peterson, in a tearful and considerably flustered voice, told the operator that his wife had an accident and required emergency assistance. Upon the operator’s further questioning, Peterson claimed that his wife fell down from more than 10 flights of stairs. She was still breathing but unconscious. Peterson hung up after making another plea for the paramedics to come quickly.
Not long after, 911 received another call from Peterson. This time, in addition to repeatedly asking when the emergency crew would arrive, he lamented that his wife was no longer breathing.
When paramedics and the police arrived, they saw an unusual and horrific scene at the stairs inside the Peterson residence. Kathleen Peterson was found dead lying in a pool of blood on the stair’s landing.
According to Peterson, after spending some time by the pool in their house, his wife got back inside first and went to bed. When he went back to the house, he found his wife lying in a pool of blood, on the verge of death.
Based the photographs taken soon after the body was removed, will we be able to make sense of what happened? Just how did Mrs. Peterson meet such a tragic fate?
Whatever the case, Michael Peterson was arrested by police afterwards and charged with first-degree murder. He was eventually found guilty, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 2003. While he continued to maintain his innocence, Peterson’s repeated requests for appeal had been rejected. Nevertheless, on December 9, 2011 – 10 years to the day of his wife’s death – Michael Peterson was granted a retrial and was released on bail awaiting a new trial.
So what happened in the end? Why was Michael Peterson convicted of first-degree murder after his beloved wife was murdered, despite their neighbours’ and friends’ claims that they were a loving couple? Why was the case granted a retrial?
During the live broadcast of the 257th episode of Kiyo’s Mysterious Studies and Research titled “The American Staircase Murder and Forensic Scandal”, we invite our audience to act as jurors, and re-examine the evidence and points of doubt in this bizarre murder. Let us try to understand the truth behind this case that will surely leave you stunned.
Kiyo’s Mysterious Studies and Research is broadcasted live on Passion Times every Sunday from 10pm to 11:30pm.