The death of Kathleen Peterson on December 9, 2001, has provided a wealth of true crime fodder and facts for fans of the genre to really sink their teeth into.
The story of her death, and the following trial of her husband who was accused of her murder, resulted in Dateline segments, a Lifetime movie and dozens of true-crime television episodes and dedicated podcasts.
Now, fascination with the puzzling case has been renewed, thanks to a revamped documentary series called The Staircase, which has just dropped on Australian Netflix. The first eight episodes of the series were released in 2004 and now brand-new episodes with fresh information have been added to the series.
The Staircase follows the compelling story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist who was accused of killing his wife Kathleen after she was mysteriously found dead at the foot of a staircase in their home in Durham, North Carolina, with lacerations to her head and surrounded by a pool of her own blood.
Peterson was arrested and found guilty of first-degree murder, leading to a life sentence that was eventually overturned because of a plea deal.
However, along with evidence that pointed towards Peterson’s involvement with his wife’s death, another slightly more bizarre theory was also put forward for consideration.
During the trial, lawyer and businessman Larry Pollard insisted he had unearthed a State Bureau of Investigation report that would see his former neighbour, Peterson, released from prion. For more than four years, Pollard had been insisting that an owl was responsible for Kathleen’s death, believing that the bird had caused the extensive blunt-force trauma and head wounds that had resulted in her death.
To prove his theory correct, Pollard stood outside the Durham County Courthouse and faced a crowd of TV crews and newspaper reporters and explained his theory. He even went as far as to use stuffed owls as props to back up his explanation.
The film crew that produced The Staircase were also on hand to catch Pollard’s news conference.
If you’re looking for a juicy new Netflix show to sink your teeth into, The Staircase is really the only option.