The Horrific Autopsy Report Of Staircase Murder Victim Kathleen Peterson




A Tragic Night Unfolds

In the early morning of December 9, 2001, something terrible happened at Michael and Kathleen Peterson’s home in Durham, North Carolina. Michael found his wife, Kathleen, unconscious at the bottom of a staircase. They had spent the evening watching a movie and sharing a moment by the pool. The night took a horrifying turn when Michael discovered Kathleen lying motionless inside.


Unraveling the Autopsy

Initial thoughts suggested Kathleen’s fall might have been an accident, but a closer look during the autopsy revealed a more complex story. Kathleen, 48 years old at the time, had injuries that raised questions. Her hands clutched hair, and there was dried blood under her nails, on her feet, and face. Multiple abrasions and contusions marked her face, along with seven lacerations on her scalp. Strangely, no skull fractures were found.


A Shocking Discovery

Despite no skull fractures, Kathleen had subarachnoid hemorrhaging on her brain. The autopsy also disclosed a fractured neck near the left thyroid, contusions on her arms, and two embedded pine needles in her hand. Surprisingly, her internal organs showed no abnormalities except for a small cyst, a uterine fibroid, and a bulging cervical disc.


Unveiling the Toxicology Report

Toxicology tests revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.07%. Additionally, Kathleen had diazepam, chlorpheniramine, cyclobenzaprine, and nicotine in her system. The cause of death was determined as a “severe concussive injury of the brain caused by multiple blunt force impacts of the head,” with heavy blood loss possibly contributing.


The Owl Theory and Murder Charges

As the only person present, Michael Peterson faced murder charges. Despite his denial, prosecutors claimed he used a blow poke, a fireplace tool, to cause Kathleen’s injuries. An alternative theory suggested an owl attack, supported by the injuries resembling those inflicted by a barred owl’s beak and talons. However, this theory was never presented in court.


A Conviction and a Twist

On October 10, 2003, Michael was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. But in 2011, a new trial was granted due to misleading testimony. Michael, under an Alford plea in 2017, didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged there was enough evidence for conviction. Released on time served, he remains a controversial figure, with debates over his involvement in Kathleen’s tragic end still ongoing.


A Cloud of Controversy

Despite being a free man, Michael’s role in Kathleen’s death remains a contentious topic. Some point to a similar incident in 1985, where Michael was the last person to see Elizabeth Ratliff alive before her accidental fall down a staircase in Germany. His attorney insists it was just an unfortunate coincidence, but doubts linger in the minds of those who believe Michael might be connected to both incidents.