Kathleen Peterson's death made headlines all across the nation in December 2001. That was the year that she was found dead at the bottom of the stairs. Her husband, book author Michael Peterson, made the shocking discovery. When police arrived at the 1810 Cedar Street mansion in Durham, they found Kathleen Peterson in a pool of blood, ABC News reported.
Right from the start police thought it looked like a lot of blood for a staircase fall. Staircase falls are also particularly rare. The evidence found at the scene and the lacerations found on Kathleen's skull during an autopsy did not correspond with Michael Peterson's version of events.
According to Michael Peterson, he was outside by the pool smoking after Kathleen had gone up to the couple's bedroom to use the computer. When he came in, he found her at the bottom of the staircase.
Dateline: A Marriage Wrecked By Tales Of Gay Sex And Murder
Michael and Kathleen Peterson were the "it" couple. They seemed very much in love. Michael Peterson was the life of the party, and together, they lived a lavish life inside those mansion walls. Their friends and family loved them dearly.
However, police say that a secret led to murder behind those walls. According to prosecutors, Kathleen Peterson had found the gay porn that Michael Peterson kept on his computer. They also allege that she must have found the emails between Michael Peterson and a gay man that he had planned to meet for sex.
They believe that Kathleen Peterson went downstairs to confront her husband over the seedy findings, where a bitter argument ensued. Kathleen, authorities alleged, was struck on the head with a fire poker as she tried to go back upstairs.
Michael Peterson has denied those allegations and has always maintained his innocence, stating that he had whispered her name a thousand times and that he loved her and would never kill her.
A jury did not agree. They convicted him and sentenced him to prison. But in 2011, that conviction was vacated, which allowed Michael Peterson to continue to claim his innocence while recognizing that the courts were presented with sufficient evidence.