Does Michael Peterson have a new wife? Inside Her Relationship Story
In each episode of The staircase On HBO Max, more and more jaw-dropping details and twists continue to play out in the story and the criminal case against Michael Peterson.
On December 9, 2001, Michael Peterson’s wife, Kathleen Peterson, was found dead at the bottom of their staircase with serious injuries. Peterson was charged with her murder, found guilty at trial, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
He was released in 2011 on bail ahead of a retrial, but in February 2017 Peterson entered a plea from Alford to the reduced charge of intentional homicide, meaning he admitted the evidence against him would lead probably to a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but the did not have to admit that he had committed the crime.
Flash-forward to the present day and true crime buffs want to know every possible detail about Peterson’s life and personal relationships, for example, does he have a new wife? Newsweek has everything you need to know about his relationship history:
Does Michael Peterson have a new wife?
No, Michael Peterson doesn’t have a new wife today.
The woman who The staircase viewers might confuse Peterson’s new wife with Sophie Brunet (played by Juliette Binoche), executive producer of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s documentary, also titled The staircase. They dated until 2017. As of now, very little is known about Peterson’s private life.
Today, 78-year-old Michael Peterson is still alive and a free man. Since his release from prison on bail in 2011 and his official release in 2017, Peterson has returned to his passion for writing, publishing two books about his trial, his life behind bars and his taste for freedom.
He published his first memoirs, behind the stairsin 2019 and later wrote a sequel, which was released the same year, titled Beyond the stairs. He donated all proceeds to charity.
Warning: this article contains spoilers on the staircase
Inside Michael Peterson’s Relationship History
As seen in the staircase, Michael Peterson confessed to his family and The staircase documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade (streaming on Netflix) that he was bisexual when evidence of male pornography was found on his computer. He said Kathleen Peterson was aware of his interest in men and that his first wife, Patricia Sue, was also there to support Michael Peterson’s claims of bisexuality.
Michael Peterson’s first marriage was to Patricia “Patty” Sue (now Peterson), an elementary school teacher. Like Patty’s father, Michael Peterson was a military man, having served in Vietnam as part of the US Marine Corps from August 1968 to September 1969. They married in 1965 and moved to Durham, North Carolina.
Together they had two sons Clayton and Todd Peterson before moving to Germany.
There, Patty Peterson worked for the US Department of Defense for 35 years as an elementary school teacher.
They separated in the 1980s and divorced in the early 1990s. At first, their two sons lived in Germany with their mother, but eventually moved to Durham, North Carolina, with their father.
Throughout Michael Peterson’s murder trial, his ex-wife was not only his emotional support, but also his financial support, and until his death she believed him to be innocent. According to CNN, Patty Peterson loaned Michael Peterson $168,000 to help defend his case.
She also supported Michael Peterson when suspicions were raised during his trial over the death of their friend Elizabeth Ratliff in 1985. Ratliff was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her home in similar circumstances to Kathleen Peterson. The last person to see her alive was Michael Peterson. Her death was investigated by US military police in Germany at the time and an autopsy concluded that she died of an intracerebral hemorrhage.
Prior to Michael Petersons’ trial, Ratliff’s body was exhumed for a second autopsy in April 2003, where a Durham medical examiner concluded the cause of death was “homicide”. The prosecution did not charge Peterson with Ratliff’s death during his trial. They did, however, use her death as an example of an incident that might help them “fag” Kathleen’s accident.
According to their son Clayton Peterson, Michael and Patricia lived together between 2019 and 2021 as “companions”.
He told the News & Observer: “They were companions. They took care of each other.”
Patricia Peterson died in July 2021 of a heart attack at the age of 78.
Kathleen Peterson, née Hunt, and Michael Peterson met when Kathleen Peterson moved to Durham and became one of Michael’s neighbours.
They married in 1987 and together raised a large blended family with children from previous relationships. Michael Peterson had two sons, Clayton AND Todd, and Kathleen Peterson had a daughter, Caitlin, from her previous marriage to Fred Atwater.
They also raised Margaret and Martha Ratliff, the daughters of their late friends, George and Elizabeth Ratliff.
Kathleen was the first woman to attend Duke University’s School of Engineering and throughout her marriage to Michael Peterson she worked for Nortel, a telecommunications company.
On December 1, 2009, Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their home in North Carolina. Her husband, Michael Peterson, was convicted of murder on October 10, 2003, but the circumstances surrounding his death have been questioned, including Peterson’s guilt or innocence since his trial.
At the time of her mother’s death, Caitlin Atwater supported her stepfather and after his arrest told the press of her innocence.
She said: “My mum and Mike had an absolutely loving relationship and there’s no way either of them would ever wish ill on the other.”
However, Caitlin’s opinion changed after seeing her mother’s autopsy photographs which depicted horrific injuries. Her stepfather’s lies, including about his sexuality, also played a part, as shown in the HBO Max miniseries, The staircase.
In a big twist that fans of the original documentary, the staircase, would not have seen coming, Peterson went out with Sophie Brunet, editor of the documentary series of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. The pair are believed to have struck up a relationship while Peterson was in prison and after his release in 2011.
Addressing the French publication The Express, de Lestrade shared, “It’s one of the amazing things that happened in those 15 years. Life is really full of surprises. They had a real story, which lasted until May 2017. But she never let her own feelings affect the course of the edit.”
Talk to The News and the Observer, Michael Peterson shared that their relationship ended because he didn’t want to live in Paris.
He said: “We made plans to live in Paris. Then I went and realized, no, I can’t. I can’t live in Paris. I don’t speak French. I’m too old I couldn’t afford to live in Paris and my children and grandchildren were in America. [Sophie] said, well, if you can’t commit to living with me all the time, let’s get it over with and it was a big blow for both of us… I couldn’t give her what she really needed and that that she deserved.”
The bisexuality of Michael Peterson
The true extent of Michael Peterson’s physical relationships with men remains unknown. The prosecution at Michael Peterson’s trial alleged that Kathleen found thousands of pornographic images of men on her computer and several emails between him and a man named Brad, where they discussed sex in detail.
Brad even testified at Michael Peterson’s trial and on cross-examination said Michael Peterson spoke about Kathleen Peterson, calling her a “dynamite woman,” the report reported. New Zealand Herald.
The staircase airs Thursdays on HBO Max and Sky Atlantic.