Wife-killing policeman to serve 38 years

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A swaggering Illinois police officer whose sensational story inspired a TV movie starring Rob Lowe was sentenced to 38 years in prison yesterday for murdering his wife.

Drew Peterson, 59, had divorced Kathleen Savio, his third wife, a year before her death in 2004 at the age of 40.

Prosecutors said his motive for killing her was fear that a pending settlement would wipe him out financially.

Fascination with Peterson arose from speculation he sought to use his law enforcement expertise to get away with murder.

He is also a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, his fourth wife who was 23 when she vanished in 2007, but he has not been charged in that case.

It was her disappearance that led police to take another look at Ms Savio’s death and eventually reclassify it from an accident to a murder.

Peterson’s sentence came moments after he shocked the courtroom with a rare public outburst of anger as he proclaimed his innocence in Ms Savio’s death.

“I did not kill Kathleen!” he shouted at the top of his lungs.

Neighbours found Ms Savio’s body in the bath at her home with a gash on her head and her hair soaked in blood.