Stacy and Drew were on the fast track, with the young girl pregnant by eighteen and married by nineteen.
“They got married eight days after the divorce with Kathleen,” Aiken said. “It was a very private wedding.”
Stacy and Drew married and settled into their home on Pheasant Chase Court, a cul-de-sac at the end of the street, a mere five hundred yards away from his old home, where Savio was still living. Peterson had actually closed on his new home in April 2002, nearly a year and a half before he and Stacy tied the knot, so they did have the opportunity to set up house before exchanging vows.
The married life must have afforded Stacy the security she had lacked throughout childhood, but it also kept her tied down with the duties of a wife and mother. Before she turned twenty-one, and less than fifteen months into her marriage, she had given birth to her second child. Plus, there were the two boys from Peterson’s marriage to Savio that stayed with them during visits with their father and would, before long, become permanent members of their household.
“She was out here with the kids all the time,’ said Bychowski. ‘Those kids were so important to her.”
Stacy was a natural when it came to motherhood, according to her neighbor. But it took some work to get Stacy looking, or at least dressing, the part of an adult, married woman with a slew of kids to take care of and what many have called a jealous, controlling husband. Luckily for Stacy, her next-door neighbor and best friend were there to help the young girl transform into a grown woman.
“She went, in the short time I was with her, from dressing in junior sizes to dressing elegantly and changing the way she looked,” Bychowski said. “She really, I feel, in three and a half years, she went from dressing like a kid to dressing like a mom.”
Bychowski knew something about appropriate professional dress. As an Avon district manager with eight hundred people working for her, she had to, and tried to impart that wisdom to Stacy.
“We would be in Kohl’s, shopping somewhere and she would say to me, ‘Does this look okay?’ And I would say, ‘I probably wouldn’t buy that.’
“Like it was too short, or it was too punky, you know?” Bychowski explained. “If your objective is to dress like a mom now, then what you wear has to change.”
It wasn’t just her clothes that transformed. After the birth of her second child, daughter Lacy in January of 2005, Stacy embarked on a series of upgrades that included breast enlargement, Lasik eye surgery, and a tummy tuck. Peterson portrayed himself as an indulgent husband, paying for the procedures.
When Lacy was born, Stacy was nineteen days shy of her twenty-first birthday. If her life had followed a different course, she might have been just a college kid hanging out with other college kids, instead of a mother of two and stepmother of another two. She still had some growing up to do. One neighbor told of Stacy wearing a bikini when she went out to cut the grass. The same neighbor said she cautioned a friend who came to her house not to look too long at Stacy or be overly friendly, because Drew was always watching.
Excerpted from “Fatal Vows” by Joseph Hosey. Copyright © 2008 Joseph Hosey & Phoenix Books, Inc.