Local News

Convicted Killer Mike Peterson Writing Again

Posted November 19, 2007 7:42 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2007 7:43 p.m. EST

Kathleen and Mike Peterson

— Durham novelist Mike Peterson, who is serving a life sentence for killing his wife nearly six years ago, is the uncredited co-author of a new book now on sale.

In a letter sent to WRAL News on Monday, co-author, ret. Lt. Col. Arthur Boyd said he began working on the Korean War book, entitled "Operation Broken Reed," with Peterson in 2002 while Peterson was under indictment for the death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson.

Emergency workers found her dead at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's Durham mansion. An autopsy showed she was beaten to death.

Peterson's Chapel Hill defense attorney, Thomas Maher, said Monday that he was aware of the collaboration.

In his letter, Boyd said Peterson helped him complete the 300-page book from his jail cell at Nash Correctional Institution, where he is serving a life sentence but that Peterson requested his name be omitted as a co-writer of the book.

Boyd said he visited Peterson at his home during the murder investigation and that Peterson showed him the staircase "where the blood-spattered walls revealed a gruesome death."

He added that he does not think Peterson killed his wife, saying "Mike remains a dedicated father, a Marine loyal to the Corps and a distinguished prolific writer."

Peterson is the author of several fictional war novels, including "A Time of War," "A Bitter Peace" and "Immortal Dragon."

Boyd said the original publisher withdrew its offer for publication rights in March 2003 because it did not want to be involved with anyone accused of murder.

Peterson has maintained his wife fell down the stairs after consuming alcohol. The North Carolina Supreme Court rejected his appeal earlier this month.

In February, he settled a wrongful death civil suit with his stepdaughter, Caitlin Atwater, for $25 million, even though he filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

Atwater's attorney, Jay Trehy, said the suit was brought against Peterson with the intent that he would never be able to profit from Atwater's mother's death.

He has said that Peterson probably would not be able to pay the civil judgment but that it showed Kathleen Peterson's life had value.