There’s no doubting that the story of Kathleen Peterson’s death in December 2001 is as complicated as it is compelling, especially given the contradictory information that has since surfaced. After all, as explored in ‘The Staircase,’ despite various theories, a trial, court rulings, and an Alford plea, the question of whether Kathleen’s husband, Michael Peterson, killed her or not remains unanswered. But, for now, if you just want to know more about Caitlin Atwater, the only child in Kathleen and Michael Peterson’s family who doubts his innocence, we’ve got you covered.

Who is Caitlin Atwater?

There’s no doubting that the story of Kathleen Peterson’s death in December 2001 is as complicated as it is compelling, especially given the contradictory information that has since surfaced.

After all, as explored in ‘The Staircase,’ despite various theories, a trial, court rulings, and an Alford plea, the question of whether Kathleen’s husband, Michael Peterson, killed her or not remains unanswered. But, for now, if you just want to know more about Caitlin Atwater, the only child in Kathleen and Michael Peterson’s family who doubts his innocence, we’ve got you covered.

Caitlin Atwater Reddit
Image Credit: Investigation Discovery

“My mother and Mike had an absolutely loving relationship, and there is no way that either of them would ever wish any sort of harm on the other one,” Caitlin had said in a press conference. 

When her loyalties shifted, she was working alongside lawyers and her father to take control of her mother’s fortune within months. Caitlin reportedly did not want Michael to use this money for his legal bills. The child even consented to become a star witness for the prosecutors during the 2003 first-degree murder trial in order to ensure that justice was done properly.

“If there was any closure to possibly come… it came after sitting through the entire trial and listening day after day to all the evidence— on both sides,” Caitlin told Indy Week. “And after the closing arguments, when all was said and done, I felt confident that I knew what happened. I knew what happened to my mom. While there’s no true closure that can ever come for an event like this, for a loss this deep, I was ready to walk away and start moving forward with my life.” With that said, having already filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael in 2002, she pursued it still for years.

Caitlin Atwater Reddit
Image Credit: Netflix

Where is Caitlin Atwater Now?

Caitlin Atwater was granted $25 million in 2008 after filing a lawsuit against her estranged stepfather. However, because Michael is impoverished, it appears that she will not receive a big sum from him. But, according to her lawyers, that was never her intention in the first place; Caitlin just does not want him to profit in any way, shape, or form from this lawsuit.

The legal agreement effectively states that if Michael ever tries to publish and sell a book again, as he has hinted he could, the revenues must be handed to Caitlin until the debt is completely paid off. “We want him to never profit from this murder,” Caitlin’s lawyer added emphatically. While Caitlin tries to keep her personal life out of the spotlight, she is thought to be a happily married mother of two who presently resides in Northern Virginia (twins).

Caitlin has done her best to move on from the past, but she hasn’t let go of her mother, her memories, or her legacy, as far as we can tell. “I’m trying to be my mother,” Caitlin Clark, as Kathleen Peterson’s daughter now goes by, once said. “I’m trying to [pass on the way I grew up] to my kids. It’s crazy sometimes, but there is so much of me channeling her.”

Who was Kathleen Peterson?

Kathleen Peterson, an American businesswoman and philanthropist, died in 2001 under mysterious circumstances.

She was the first woman to be accepted into the elite Duke University’s engineering department after growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

She went on to work for high-profile pharmaceutical and IT firms as an executive.
In 1996, she married writer Michael Peterson.

Did her husband Michael Peterson kill her?

In 2003, Michael Peterson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, promising his daughters, “I love you… it’ll be alright.”

Kathleen had been discovered dead at the bottom of their Durham (North Carolina) mansion’s dark staircase.

He claimed she fell while he smoked a cigar outdoors after an evening of drinking, but the prosecution said he beat her to death for the insurance money.

He was released on time served after entering an Alford plea for voluntary manslaughter in 2017.

Peterson has written two books since his release from prison: Behind the Staircase and Beyond the Staircase, both of which were published in 2019 and give a behind-the-scenes story of his trial, imprisonment, and life after prison.

What is the Staircase documentary about and when does it premiere?

The documentary The Staircase explores the narrative of Michael’s 16-year legal battle.
It will begin by airing three new follow-up episodes to a 2004 documentary series.

The show has been compared to Netflix’s smash hit Making A Murderer.
On May 5, 2022, The Staircase will premiere.

It will, however, be available exclusively on HBO Max.


Netflix also produced a 10-episode documentary about the case in 2018.

Comments are closed.