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Since HBO Max released The Staircase, Michael Peterson’s story has been top of mind for many, including his son Todd Peterson. In the past, Todd accused Michael of being a “serial killer.” More recently, he made a YouTube video claiming Kathleen Peterson, Michael’s second wife who was found dead at the foot of the stairs in their Durham, North Carolina home, was the other woman in Michael’s first marriage. Find out what Todd said.

Clayton (Dane DeHaan) and Todd Peterson (Patrick Schwarzenegger) in the court room in HBO Max's 'The Staircase'
Dane DeHaan as Clayton Peterson and Patrick Schwarzenegger as Todd Peterson | HBO Max

Michael Peterson’s son once called him a ‘serial killer’ 

In a video from December 2021, Todd accuses his father of being a serial killer. “I’m about to call the cops on my father for murdering my mother,” he says of Michael’s first wife, Patricia. “Just now today realized the motivation — money.” 

Patricia Peterson was 78-years-old when she died in July 2021 at Duke University Hospital after a massive heart attack (via North Carolina’s News & Record). Todd claims his father took money along with several other belongings that he wasn’t entitled to after Patricia died. 

“I never thought my dad would kill Kathleen or my mom because I didn’t think he would hurt his family members,” Todd continues. “I needed my own personal experience where he tried to hurt me and ruin my life … to see nothing would prevent him from doing anything.” 

In 2001, Michael was arrested and tried for the death of his second wife, Kathleen. Michael received a life sentence, but was released and placed on house arrest in 2011. The opportunity for a new trial came about after a blood spatter expert gave false testimony. Michael entered an Alford plea in 2017 but has served enough time and is a free man today. 

Todd Peterson claims Michael Peterson cheated on his first wife with Kathleen 

In an Instagram post that has been preserved on YouTube, Todd talks about his father’s relationship with his first wife, Patricia. “What my mother endured, no woman should have to endure,” Todd says in the video. “Her best friend f***ed her husband in her own bed.” 

According to Todd, Kathleen and Patricia were best friends. “Kathleen’s husband left her on Christmas Day,” he continues. Despite “stealing” his mother’s husband and “breaking his family apart,” Todd believes Kathleen should be in heaven. 

HBO Max’s ‘The Staircase’ is ‘nonsense’ according to Todd Peterson

In that same video, Todd also speaks about HBO Max’s The Staircase, the eight-episode series that concluded on June 9. “All of those scenes that you’ve seen on HBO are complete f***ing nonsense,” Todd said of the series. He claims Kathleen and Michael “never fought once” and had “the greatest relationship of anyone I’ve ever seen.” In the series, the fictional couple, played by Toni Collette and Colin Firth, fights frequently.

Michael Peterson spoke out against ‘The Staircase’ too 

If there’s one thing Michael and Todd can agree on, it’s their thoughts regarding HBO Max’s The Staircase. “I have read about [original director] Jean de Lestrade’s sense of betrayal by Antonio Campos and HBO Max’s presentation of The Staircase,” Michael wrote in an email to Variety. “But what has been … overlooked or simply ignored is his betrayal of me and my family.”


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His criticism of The Staircase continues: “We feel that Jean pimped us out — sold OUR story to Campos for money. What word other than pimped describes what he did? He released his archive to Campos who created a fictional account of events, most of which trashed me … and my children ….” 

Michael says the drama series has “egregious fabrications and distortions of the truth” that go beyond “‘artistic’ license.” Watch The Staircase on HBO Max and the docu-series that inspired it on Netflix