Local News

Durham Police Investigate Death Of Former Mayoral Candidate's Wife

Posted December 11, 2001

— Police in Durham continue to investigate the death of the wife of a former city council candidate.

Michael Peterson's wife, Kathleen, was found dead early Sunday morning at the base of a staircase in their Forest Hills home. Police said Peterson told 911 operators his wife had been injured in a fall.

When rescue workers arrived at the home, Peterson's wife was lying dead on the floor.

A search of the property continued through Monday evening and details about what happened remain sketchy. Police will not say what kind of injuries Kathleen suffered. Her body was sent to the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill for an autopsy.

Durham police said that they would have a better idea of what happened if they could talk with Mike Peterson.

"We have not been able to interview Mr. Peterson. He has chosen not to answer any of our questions," said Lt. Ed Sarvis.

Police call the case suspicious and said that they will not rule it a homicide until they receive preliminary autopsy results.

Peterson's attorney told WRAL that Peterson wants to talk with investigators, but she has advised him not to. The attorney said that doing so would create an even bigger circus than there is already, referring to the lengthy search of the Peterson home involving well over a dozen officers.

Peterson lost Durham's mayoral race in 1999 after admitting that for years he had falsely claimed he sustained a permanent injury to his right leg from combat in Vietnam. He had actually injured his leg in a car crash in Japan.

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