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starri

Climbing the Staircase: The Death of Kathleen Peterson

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Hahahaha, don't feel bad. I alternated between totally buying the owl theory and thinking Michael did it. 

The wounds on her head totally look like owl talons. 

But there are other things...the blood on the INSIDE of his shorts (as if it splattered up, while striking a blow), for one. The blood seemed very dried by the time help arrived. So that would make me think HE found her much later as well. How would fresh blood get inside his shorts like that then?

I just find it really odd that both the girls' bio mother and adoptive mother fell down stairs and died. 

Maybe the owl attack did happen and was a fortuitous event for Michael? She was still alive, but he finished her off? 

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I have a question about the blowpoke! I hope I can articulate this effectively...

OK, so maybe I missed something, but what exactly made the prosecution/police/whomever even suggest that a blowpoke in particular was used in this scenario--especially when no blowpoke was found there by the police? If it had been there upon the immediate investigation, I would understand if they saw it and said, "Well, well, well, could this have been the instrument used in this murder most foul?" But without it there, does it seem to anyone else a strange thing to come up with as opposed to a general opinion of "blunt instrument" or whatever? Or are blowpokes really common household items and I just don't know it?  

Did Kathleen's sister, blowpoke-gifter extraordinaire, suggest to the cops that she thought that a blowpoke was used?

Edited by TattleTeeny

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Well, I think the police deducted that it has to be something long with a handle, something that had a sharp edge to make the lacerations that were made, something fairly heavy. I think it was the fact that blow poke was "missing" that made them think it was the likely murder weapon. 

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But how did the police know that the family had a blowpoke at all? I figured maybe everyone who's anyone in Durham had one, haha!

Edited by TattleTeeny

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Did they have a fireplace set of some sort? A little holder where the tools are kept? I'm sorry, it's been awhile since I watched, but I thought someone from the family mentioned that it wasn't where it was supposed to be. Or maybe police just saw the empty holder and asked if there was usually a poker there. 

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IIRC, Kathleen's sister had given them AND another sibling the exact same fireplace set - including the blowpoke.  And - again, IIRC - there was a family picture taken earlier in front of the fireplace that included the blowpoke.

Darn you, people.  Now I'm going to have to review THAT case as well as JBR.  (It's nice to have friends who are as geeked about this stuff as I am.)

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Funny this thread should appear now - new trial set for spring. It sounds like it's going to be a mess, not to mention the various movies etc. that surely everyone in the jury pool here would have at least heard of.

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IIRC, Kathleen's sister had given them AND another sibling the exact same fireplace set - including the blowpoke.  And - again, IIRC - there was a family picture taken earlier in front of the fireplace that included the blowpoke.

Yeah, apparently that sister thought everyone needed a damn blowpoke! She gave that shit out like candy!

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In her defense . . . I have sometimes given the same family gift to each sibling and spouse.  One year, friends of ours (three brothers and wives) each gave all of the others electric toothbrushes.  SIX electric toothbrushes were given amongst them.  That was funny!

Edited by AZChristian · Reason: English majors don't do math well.
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7 hours ago, starri said:

I should probably be embarrassed by this, but I actually do find the owl theory halfway plausible.

Halfway, I agree. But IMO a bird would have left more evidence, and probably wouldn't have flown right back out the way it came in. Ever had a bird in the house? They tend to panic and flap around.

It was only a single microscopic piece of feather found. Maybe it was a ghost bird.

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5 minutes ago, glowlights said:

Halfway, I agree. But IMO a bird would have left more evidence, and probably wouldn't have flown right back out the way it came in. Ever had a bird in the house? They tend to panic and flap around.

It was only a single microscopic piece of feather found. Maybe it was a ghost bird.

This. It takes a lot of coaxing and the bird running into walls multiple times. Even with a wide open garage door.

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Had a bat once. It swooped into my ex-BF's big metal-band hair and then my dad McGyvered a contraption from a big funnel, duct tape, and vacuum pieces to trap the it against the ceiling and slide it along until it was out the front door.

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10 hours ago, Court said:

I think he did it but I don't know if I could actually convict him. 

That's kind of how I feel. Now, if we were convicting based on liking/disliking the dude? I'd convict in a heartbeat. What a smug, self important asshole he was. 

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I have no doubt he did it, and I would convict him in a heartbeat.  I watched the entire trial on the old CourtTV.  That blood in the stairwell was NOT from someone hitting their head on the staircase.  

Having said that, I do not think the death of the first woman should have been allowed in the trial.

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11 hours ago, TattleTeeny said:

Had a bat once. It swooped into my ex-BF's big metal-band hair and then my dad McGyvered a contraption from a big funnel, duct tape, and vacuum pieces to trap the it against the ceiling and slide it along until it was out the front door.

Is it okay if I am in tears from laughing at the visual of this entire scenario? (But it's awesome you guys got it safely outside instead of killing it. Well done McGuyver Dad!)

1 hour ago, AZChristian said:

I have no doubt he did it, and I would convict him in a heartbeat.  I watched the entire trial on the old CourtTV.  That blood in the stairwell was NOT from someone hitting their head on the staircase.  

Having said that, I do not think the death of the first woman should have been allowed in the trial.

What did you make of Henry Lee saying there was too much blood for a beating? I still can't figure out wtf he meant. The scalp is highly vascular. If you break the skin it bleeds heavily and often looks worse than it is. 

Did they specify what kind of owl supposedly murdered Kathleen? Because I have some opinions about wing span and the space involved, and the lack of feathers or other owl evidence at the scene. They are brilliant predators but this would not have been a precision strike while hunting rodents. The owl would have been in a fury. What did Michael tell the police that first night about how he got inside? Did he say that door was wide open?

Havent thought about this case in ages. Now I'm back to owls and blowpokes! LOL 

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I get hung up on the way they conducted the trial.  I truly don't know if I think he's guilty or not, but I find it really difficult to keep an open mind when the prosecution decided that they couldn't convict him without having their thumbs on the scale.  Particularly when the Durham County DA ended up disbarred over the Duke Lacrosse case.  If he is guilty, he'll get off because they couldn't play by the rules, and worse, that casts doubt on every legitimate conviction the prosecution obtains.

And this just be my own blind spot, but as a gay guy, the prosecution's position that Kathleen had found out about him banging dudes on the d/l and so he killed her kind of offended me.  Every marriage has its own rules, and it's not that big a stretch to imagine they had a DADT arrangement.  Honestly, if anything, the bigger sticking point might have been that he was paying for it.

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11 hours ago, starri said:

And this just be my own blind spot, but as a gay guy, the prosecution's position that Kathleen had found out about him banging dudes on the d/l and so he killed her kind of offended me.  Every marriage has its own rules, and it's not that big a stretch to imagine they had a DADT arrangement.  Honestly, if anything, the bigger sticking point might have been that he was paying for it.

Maybe it WAS the "paying for it" that set off an argument, not the gay angle.  She was the primary breadwinner, supporting a pompous man who fancied himself to be a great writer and political candidate, but who had not brought in any money in quite some time to help support the family's lavish lifestyle.  She had helped to put his kids through college, but now was about to lose her job.  In that situation, his decision to pay for sex with anyone -- regardless of gender - was stupid and arrogant.  

Financial difficulties are the largest trigger of arguments in marriage. 

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I'm not going to argue that the guy isn't a douchebag.  Like I said, I have no opinion on whether or not he actually did it, but "being a douchebag" isn't a enough to convict him.

Mostly it's just an excuse to type blowpoke again and again.

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I've been randomly replacing two-syllable words in various songs with "blowpoke."

"You're a blowpoke, and you've gone too far and you know it don't matter anyway. You can rely on the old man's blowpoke, you can rely on the old man's blowpoke!" ("Rich Girl" is my go-to for this activity--cats' names, alleged murder weapons, what have you...)

Edited by TattleTeeny
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"You can rely on the old man's blowpoke" sounds incredibly dirty. lol

I agree that his "other" life may have been a factor. They are bleeding money, her job is on the line, mounting debt, and she's busting her hump while he lazes around the house and picks up guys on the internet? They may also have had an arrangement where she didn't care so long as she didn't have to know about it, and somehow one of his daliances came to her attention. Maybe she threatened to tell everyone what he really did during the day while everyone thought he was writing. Or maybe he just wanted the insurance money, simple as that.

I was not on board with the way the prosecutor shrieked "filth!!!" in regards to pornography. She sounded like the Church Lady from SNL.

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Weird...I'm watching a Forensic Files episode called "Accident or Murder?" about a woman dead at the bottom of a staircase. She's got questionable head wounds, neighbors who disagree about the amount of blood they saw at the scene, no defensive wounds, a wonky timeline, and a husband who was jailed for it. 

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I should probably be embarrassed by this, but I actually do find the owl theory halfway plausible.

You aren't the only one.  It isn't just the owl feather found in her hair, it is the description of injuries from other victims of owl attacks.  I can easily come up with motives for him killing her, but I can't think of one for the earlier woman.  He supposedly wasn't having a relationship with her.  

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21 hours ago, Yokosmom said:

I can easily come up with motives for him killing her, but I can't think of one for the earlier woman.  He supposedly wasn't having a relationship with her.  

Rejection?

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I just listened to an episode of Criminal (the podcast; Episode 1: Animal Instincts) about this case and explained the owl theory. They talked to the guy who first brought up the possibility of the owl. Apparently he surmises that the owl attack happened outside and she stumbled back in, which would explain why there weren't other signs of an owl in the house. Not sure that I believe it though, mainly because of the blood spatter.

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Yea, it would make more sense that the owl got her IN the staircase. It's freaking out, won't let go, she's freaking out, running around, trying to get it off - and she's falling and banging into the wall, etc. I could see that maybe producing the amount of blood. (But yea, the lack of feathers is an issue.) But no way did an owl attack her outside, she got away from it, came inside, and then what? Threw her already damaged head around the stairwell a bunch of times? Makes no sense. 

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On 12/7/2016 at 5:20 AM, MargeGunderson said:

I just listened to an episode of Criminal (the podcast; Episode 1: Animal Instincts) about this case and explained the owl theory. They talked to the guy who first brought up the possibility of the owl. Apparently he surmises that the owl attack happened outside and she stumbled back in, which would explain why there weren't other signs of an owl in the house. Not sure that I believe it though, mainly because of the blood spatter.

I just listened to this podcast. While it was interesting to learn about the microscopic feathers that go all the way down to an owl's talons, the big problem imo with the lawyer's theory is that Michael Peterson claimed to be outside, and heard no screams. The defense tested to see if you could hear someone screaming from the stairwell. If Kathleen was attacked outside (as the theory goes) how did Michael not hear? The lawyer said the defense didn't show much interest in his theory, well that's why imo. Because it screws with Michael's "I heard nothing" story. Also, the podcast did not explain if the microscopic piece of feather found in Kathleen's hand was indeed determined to be one of the types of tiny feathers that go down to the talons, or if it was merely a microscopic sized piece of another type of owl feather.

P.S. Tdoc72 owls are very silent predators so no they don't tend to screech when attacking, but a person having her scalp ripped by talons surely would. Unless she was stunned by the impact.

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About an hour ago, a stink bug dive bombed me and I woke up the whole house screaching. If you are lucky enough to be unfamiliar, when they get stressed, they release a horrible smell, like a skunk, that never goes away. I had to throw out a towel that got one wrapped in it, because you couldn't wash the smell out.

Stephen King has made clowns, birds, and tall stalks of corn petrifying, and I add stink bugs to the list.

Google images for those who are curious.

ETA: This was in response to Kathleen yelling when being attacked. I realize I shouldn't post so late since I'm the only one who can read my mind.

Edited by Christina · Reason: Added paragraph
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On 01/28/2017 at 11:01 AM, ari333 said:

Do owls attack humans? Sincere question

Yes.  Sincere answer.  My friend does raptor rehab (owls, hawks & such).  When she enters their flight cage, she uses a metal garbage can lid as a shield from attacking owls.

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15 hours ago, walnutqueen said:

Yes.  Sincere answer.  My friend does raptor rehab (owls, hawks & such).  When she enters their flight cage, she uses a metal garbage can lid as a shield from attacking owls.

Really? Wow. Is she going in to feed them?  I'll take further inquiries  after this post to small talk. :) And I want to ask how your jays and other little critters are. Hugs , lady!

PS a squirrel jumped on a neighbor's face and he was feeding them. Unpredictable wildlife.

Edited by ari333
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One of the front page stories in our paper yesterday was headlined, "Mike Peterson plans to enter Alford plea."  The story goes on to say that this means he does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have evidence that could lead to a jury conviction.  He steadfastly maintains his innocence

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8 minutes ago, Ananayel said:

Story.

I sense another book coming, possibly a reality show about him getting his life back or some such twaddle. He seems to really really need attention.

Oh, yeah. I doubt that eight years in prison has dampened any of his grandiosity. 

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Alternately, the prosecution wouldn't accept/offer the Alford plea if they weren't somewhat doubtful about being able to secure another conviction.  For better or worse, they're a shortcut to just putting the proceedings behind them.  See:  West Memphis Three, Laurie Bembenek.  I am much less convinced of Peterson's innocence than either of those cases, but in each of them, there was evidence of the prosecution playing fast and loose with the rules.

Peterson will continue to be a dickweed until the day he dies, but if being a dickweed was a crime...

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According to the local news (I live in the area as well) most of the evidence from the first trial wouldn't be admissible in this one so that's why the Alford plea. All the headlines here are blaring "Peterson walks free!" I admit I haven't followed this case much despite it being local - I haven't seen the documentary. He did say he would write again - sounded like more of a novel about the justice/legal system than his personal account. Sadly, he probably will get a lot of attention.

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An Alford plea is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  IMO, he pled guilty and that's what's important.  I do feel badly for Kathleen's sisters, though.

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Oh, yeah. I doubt that eight years in prison has dampened any of his grandiosity. 

I remember hearing, shortly after he wen to prison, that he was severely beaten by another prison inmate. I really couldn't summon up any sympathy for him. Yeah, he was convicted, but he's breathing free air, unlike his poor victim.

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