You’re probably aware, especially since you’re reading this, that Drew Peterson is currently on trial in Will County, Illinois for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. You’re less likely to know that one courtroom over, jury selection concluded this week for Christopher Vaughn’s murder trial, and the trial itself will begin Monday.
Why is Drew Peterson so much more well known? Well, his inappropriately clown-like behavior was certainly a factor. And any Peterson with a dead or missing wife is going to be a magnet for media attention these days.
(Oh, and why did the national media focus so quickly on the Scott Peterson case in the first place? One reporter told me, off the record — and how often does a reporter get to say that to somebody else? — that one big reason was that many of them had just spent time in Modesto during the Chandra Levy investigation, and they already knew all the good bars and restaurants: so they were pushing to give the case major coverage. And it turned out to have been a good decision)
Vaughn’s case, though, is easily as strange as Peterson’s:
On June 14, 2007, Vaughn pulled the family SUV to the side of the road, and fatally shot his wife, Kimberly, and their three children, then gave himself superficial gunshot wounds on his wrist and leg. Or, Kimberly shot him, then shot the children and herself because she was angry with him after he’d confessed to having had an affair, and she was on the anti-seizure drug Topamax, which could increase the risk of suicidal behavior.
Prosecutors claim the former.
They plan to introduce a cryptic poem they found in Vaughn’s encoded journal, which appears to be a “to do” list containing the item “Ask Maya the question” — said Maya, they believe, being an exotic dancer he was planning to run off with. Of course, Vaughn’s plans to run off with Maya (who prosecutors do not believe was involved with or had any knowledge of the murders) also fits in with the defense’s claim that Kimberly committed the murders because she found out about Vaughn’s affair (and in a sense brings us full-circle to Scott Peterson’s claim that Laci ran off because he’d just told her about his affair with Amber Frey).
There’s also the matter of Kimberly’s million-dollar life insurance policy.
© 2012 by Bill Bickel unless otherwise noted.