‘The Staircase’: Todd Peterson Once Claimed His Father Michael Peterson Was a ‘Serial Killer’

The 2001 death of Kathleen Peterson and Michael Peterson’s court case are the subject of HBO Max‘s The Staircase. At the time, most of Michael and Kathleen’s kids rallied around the patriarch to defend him, except for Caitlin Atwater.

However, in December 2021, Michael’s son Todd Peterson changed his mind. In a post to YouTube, he claimed Michael Peterson is a “serial killer” who killed his first wife, Patricia Peterson, and second wife, Kathleen.

Michael Peterson, whose son Todd claims he's a serial killer
Michael Peterson | Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT

Todd Peterson claimed his father was a ‘serial killer’ in December 2021

Before the HBO series The Staircase, Todd posted a video accusing him of murdering his mother, Patricia. “I’m about to call the cops on my father for murdering my mother,” Todd says in the December 2021 video. “Just now today realized the motivation — money.” 

Patricia Peterson died in July 2021 at Duke University Hospital after a massive heart attack (via North Carolina’s News & Record). She was 78-years-old. 

Todd’s video continues with an explanation of his sobriety. He also reveals how he was able to “figure out” his father is a “serial killer.” According to Todd, his father took money from a joint account after Patricia’s death, along with other things he had no right to take.

“He doesn’t want me to call the cops on him,” Todd continues. Todd predicted his father would send him “nasty messages” after removing the remaining money from their joint acount. If his predictions about his father’s reactions were correct, “… it’s probably fair to say other things,” he added, alluding to murder. 

The video doesn’t show Todd taking the money out or Michael’s reaction after. However, Todd adds:

“I never thought my dad would kill Kathleen or my mom because I didn’t think he would hurt his family members. 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.” 

Todd Peterson, YouTube

Todd Peterson wants to change the public’s opinion of Michael Peterson 

After Netflix’s The Staircase, some people’s opinions of Kathleen’s death and the Michael Peterson case changed, primarily because of the owl theory. Todd’s stance changed too — now he doesn’t believe his father is innocent. 

“This man should spend the rest of his life in jail,” Todd continues in the video. “We can’t convict him court, [but] that’s why I have this video — so we can convict him in the court of public opinion. I can’t believe I’m going to call the cops on my f***ing father.” 

Michael Peterson is still a free man despite Todd’s claims

Michael was convicted of murder back in 2001. He spent eight years in prison before he was granted a retrial over misreported test results in bloodstain evidence (via Oxygen). 


‘The Staircase’: Michael and Kathleen Peterson’s 5 Kids, Who Plays Them in the HBO Series

In 2011, Michael was placed under house arrest awaiting a new trial, which took place in 2017. He entered an Alford plea — a guilty plea that allowed him to assert his innocence while accepting there was sufficient evidence to find him guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. He was sentenced to 86 months in prison. However, since he already served 98.5 months, he was not incarcerated again. 

As of 2022, Michael is 78-years-old and a free man. It’s unclear if Todd ever did call the cops and explain the theory about his father being a serial killer.

Watch The Staircase on HBO Max.