Michael Peterson's Son, Todd, Leads A Quiet Life These Days

by Megan Walsh

Though Michael Peterson's adopted daughters, Martha and Margaret Ratliff, had the largest presence in The Staircase of all the Peterson children, his sons were regular attendees in the courtroom, too. Clayton and Todd Peterson were Michael's children with his first wife, Patty, and, like their sisters, they believed their father was innocent of his second wife Kathleen's murder. The final episodes of the docuseries caught up with most of the kids, but mentions of Todd were minimal. So, where is Todd Peterson today?

It looks like Todd eschews the public eye, so there isn't much information available about him on the internet. Even The Staircase chose to respect his privacy by not focusing on him very much. He appeared in Episode 10 to talk to his father through glass in jail, offering up a few tidbits about his life: there was a woman he was interested in, and he joked a little about the prospect of grandchildren. But in the final episode, which was filmed the most recently, Michael remarked on the phone to his daughter Margaret that Todd "doesn't want this," seeming to refer to the attention that came with the court case. It was implied that Todd doesn't talk about it much, so it appears he's staying out of things on purpose. And who can blame him?


In 2017, David Rudolf, one of the defense attorneys working on the case, told the News & Observer that Todd now lives in Tennessee. It's not clear what his job is, or whether he did end up getting married and having children. And it's probably better that it remains unknown, because if Todd wanted the general public to know about his daily life he would likely find there was no shortage of publications eager for the information. If he wants to fly under the radar, then that is his choice to be respected.

Todd appeared most often in the earliest episodes of The Staircase, which began filming not long after Michael was indicted for Kathleen's murder in 2001. Todd was reportedly one of the first on the scene after Michael discovered Kathleen's body, arriving not long after the ambulances did. And he has always believed that his father was not guilty, saying in The Staircase, "I knew for a fact that no way in this world my father would have ever hurt Kathleen."

In Episode 1, Todd described what he was feeling when he arrived at his father's home the night Kathleen died. Shock was the first emotion he felt upon seeing ambulances outside the house and, since he didn't yet know what was going on, he was afraid his father had suffered a heart attack. He felt relieved when he went inside to find his dad unharmed, but quickly learned that something had happened to his stepmother.


While Todd and his siblings were of the opinion that Michael did not harm Kathleen, according to AP News they still encouraged him to settle the case instead of having a retrial. They didn't think that he would ever be able to get a fair trial from the Durham police or prosecutors. Ultimately, Michael decided to avoid another trial by accepting a plea deal that allowed him to walk free. By entering an Alford plea, Michael pled guilty to manslaughter while still claiming to be innocent. In short, that means he accepted that it would be possible to convict him based on the evidence, even though he insisted he did not do the crime. He was released on time served.

In 2004, a family friend named Kerry Sutton told local news affiliate WRAL that the Peterson children were "getting on with their lives." Though there hasn't been a more recent update on how Todd is handling things, it seems as though he has done just that: moved on with his life far from the cameras.