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Who is Michael Peterson? Wife, The Staircase, And Where He Is Now

Holly Beaumont

| Last updated 

Who is Michael Peterson? Wife, The Staircase, And Where He Is Now

Michael Peterson has recently emerged in the headlines due to the Sky Atlantic crime series The Staircase that depicts the story of how he allegedly murdered his wife.

I just took a deep-dive into this case and after watching several videos of body-language experts analysing Peterson’s behaviour, it is clear that this case is truly an interesting one. 

Here is what I found out:

What happened to Kathleen Peterson?


Kathleen Peterson died in December 1981 after sustaining head injuries from allegedly falling down the stairs. Her husband, Michael Peterson, was viewed as the chief suspect in the case, because he was the only known person present at the time of her death. 

There were also some doubts cast around his suggestion that Kathleen had fallen down the stairs, due to the prosecution arguing that she had received blows to the head by a weapon. Michael Peterson was ultimately found guilty by the jury and sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

However, this was not the end of the story. The case continued for over a decade, until Michael was permanently released from prison in 2017 due to a few mishaps during the trial. One of these was crucial to Michaels’ release; the fact that a blood analyst in the case and one of the principal witnesses against Peterson was fired due to lying about his credentials. 

What is The Staircase?


Peterson’s story has been picked up by HBO and Sky Atlantic and adapted into crime drama The Staircase. The series has been well-received by viewers and was given a four-star review by The Guardian.

Beloved actor Colin Firth was cast to portray the character of Michael and viewers have not been disappointed with his performance. Hello! Magazine stated that viewers were ‘blown away at his “uncanny” portrayal’.

Where is Peterson now?

Michael is now 78 and has returned to live in Durham, North Carolina. Michael lives in a ground-floor condo, which his attorney awkwardly joked has ‘no stairs’.


While Peterson was ultimately released, people are still doubtful about whether or not he committed the crime. The internet seems to still be divided on the matter. Where do you stand?

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: TV and Film, True Crime, HBO

Holly Beaumont
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