by Netflix The staircase examines the bizarre death of Kathleen Peterson, which may have involved an owl. In 2001, she was found dead at the bottom of the stairs, presumably beaten to death by her husband, Michael. Now the story is told in dramatic fashion in the HBO Max series The staircase, bringing the owl theory back to light. Learn more about the theory, how HBO approaches it and why Jean-Xavier de Lestrade The staircase doesn’t.
The real killer in ‘The Staircase’ could be a bird of prey
As Michael Peterson’s lawyer, David S. Rudolphf, explains in his website, Kathleen died of exsanguination. “No blunt trauma to the brain, no fractured skull, no strangulation,” he wrote. “Blood loss.”
“We thought in 2003 [her wounds] were due to the scalp “splitting” when his head hit a flat surface, such as a wall or floor, as explained by Werner Spitz in Episode 1 [of Netflix’s The Staircase]writes Rudolf. “But in 2003, none of us [thought] each of these scalp wounds could have been inflicted by a bird of prey. It never crossed my mind. I wish that was the case.
Rudolpf also lists evidence that supports the owl theory. Barred owls are common in the woods near the Peterson residence. They also have a reputation for attacking people.
Also, the wounds on Kathleen’s face matched an owl’s beak. Coroners found twigs and feathers on his body.
Rudolf later said Vulture: “The first time it crossed my mind was a day or two before my final argument. Although I was ready to come after six months to say that it was a fall and to say “Sorry folks it wasn’t a fall it was an owl that caused those injuries” I couldn’t do that because there was no evidence of that in the trial.
HBO Max’s ‘The Staircase’ hints at owls attacking Kathleen
HBO Max’s limited series The staircase began with three episodes on May 5. The owl theory does not appear in the dialogue of these episodes, but owls are alluded to. In the premiere of The staircasethe medical examiners pull a pine needle through Kathleen’s (Collette) fingers during the autopsy.
In episode 2, they find claw marks on Kathleen’s head, which the prosecutor wants to link to a missing punch. Later, in the third episode of the HBO Max series, the camera stops to show Kathleen looking up at the sky as owls howl in the distance.
There are still five episodes left of the HBO Max series. Tune in weekly on Thursdays to see how the Owl Theory comes back.
Netflix’s ‘The Staircase’ Focuses on the Criminal Justice System, Not Owls
Netflix’s true crime series only mentions the idea of an owl attacking Kathleen Peterson in a digital feature – it never appears in episodes. Instead, the Netflix docuseries focuses on the flawed criminal justice system. As Rudolf explains:
“For me, the importance of The staircase is not whether an owl was somehow involved in the death of Kathleen Peterson. I believe the importance of documentary lies in exposing the flaws in the criminal justice system in general and junk science in particular.
Lestrade echoed that sentiment at Vulture. “If there had been another trial, I’m sure the owl theory would have been considered in the courtroom,” he said. “But because she was never brought into the courtroom, I’ve decided not to talk about that theory. It’s really a mystery how she died.
The staircase is available on Netflix. Watch The staircase on HBO Max.
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