Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson (2024)

"Kathleen was so capable. She died so young, with so many promising times ahead. I still can't believe it."
-- Veronica Hunt, Kathleen Peterson's Mother

"In this office we will do everything we can to make sure Kathleen Peterson and her family receive justice because that's my obligation. We're going to treat this defendant fairly and appropriately, but we're going to do what we have to do to make sure she gets justice."
-- D.A. Jim Hardin

Despite the rancor and division created by Michael Peterson's murder trial, no one ever disagreed that the horrible death of Kathleen Peterson was a truly shocking tragedy.

The 48-year-old wife, mother, and Nortel Networks executive was not known to be weak, clumsy or frail -- in fact, just the opposite. Strong, resourceful, hard-working and fun-loving, Kathleen Peterson was a community leader who rose to every occasion. That's why people were immediately suspicious of Michael's story that she got falling down drunk and accidentally killed herself.

Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson (1)

Oddly, filmmaker Lestrade never focuses on the woman found dead at the bottom of the staircase -- in his documentary, "Death on The Staircase."

Jean-Xavier says he laments leaving Mrs. Peterson on the cutting-room floor, but explains that her absence was just an accident:

"That is one of my regrets: not to have a better portrayal of Kathleen. You know I feel very close to her. She was a wonderful person, smart, with a great sense of humor, funny, a very good mother for all the children... I spoke with a lot of her friends. But I had great difficulties to find the right place in the film. And I could not. Again, it is a regret."

Kathleen Peterson's Funeral Notice

Mrs. Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson, was born February 21, 1953, in Greensboro, North Carolina, and died of a tragic accident in her beloved home in Durham, North Carolina, Sunday, December 9, 2001.

Kathleen was always an accomplished student, engineer, volunteer and leader. She spent her school years in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where she was voted "Girl of The Year" and "Lancaster Lass" in the early 60s. During her high school years, at Lancaster McCaskey High School, she was President of the Debating Club, Editor of the "Generation" school magazine, and was selected as the first high school student allowed to take advanced Latin classes at Franklin and Marshall College.

Kathleen graduated from McCaskey as the number one student in her class of 473 students. She was selected to be published in the Who's Who Book of American High School Students.

Kathleen's scholastic achievements excelled at Duke University where she was selected as the first female student accepted into the school of engineering in 1971. She received a BS in Civil engineering and a Masters in Mechanical engineering from Duke.

Her career was exceptionally successful. She achieved executive level positions at Baltimore Air-Coil-Pritchard, Merck and finally Nortel. Kathleen received countless awards for her leadership skills and successes from Nortel Networks. In her work she traveled extensively to Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Malaysia, Europe, Hong Kong, and Canada.

Kathleen was a prominent and active citizen in Durham.

She served on the Board of the Durham Arts Council, opened her home frequently to help the American Dance Festival and the Carolina Ballet. She gave willingly of her time and creative talents in cooking, decorating, and entertaining to her community and neighbors.

Kathleen's greatest accomplishment and pride was in the wonderful family that she raised. She is survived by her best friend and husband, Michael Iver Peterson; sons, Todd and Clayton Peterson; and daughters, Caitlin Atwater, Martha and Margaret Ratliff. She is also survived by her mother, Veronica Hunt, of Florida; sisters, Candace Zamperini and Lori Campell, of Virginia; and her brother, Steven Hunt, of Tennessee.

A funeral service will be held 11:00 a.m. Thursday, December 13, 2001, at Duke University Chapel. The Rev. Joseph Harvard will officiate. A private interment at Maplewood Cemetery will follow the service - immediate family only. A viewing will take place Wednesday, December 12, 2001.

"She was a very good friend, She lived life to the fullest. She was a very intelligent woman and a loving mother."
-- Maureen Berry

"She was absolutely an amazing person; I'm still in awe of her. She was an amazing executive and scholar... and she could cook and sew."
-- Candace Zamperini

"I did consider Martha and Margaret my sisters and my mother considered them her daughters, but my goal, my strength in life is completely opposite -- it's in seeking justice for my mother. That's what I'm here for."
-- Caitlin Atwater

"I never knew my father to be happy until she came along. She made a family out of nothing. She had a wonderful marriage with my father, and she took in Martha and Margaret and made them her own daughters. She is the single greatest source of happiness to the people that I hold so close to me."
-- Todd Peterson

"I'm profoundly sorry that Kathleen has to be involved in this, but some good is going to come of this other than my innocence."
-- Peterson

Judge and Jury

Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson (2)
Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson (2024)
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