HEBER CITY — Calling his death an "assassination," a note written by an unapologetic Greg Peterson, apparently just before he committed suicide, has been made public.
"I'm quite comfortable returning to my maker, as he knows I have committed no crime," Peterson wrote in his hand-written suicide note, which was posted by family members on his Facebook page.
But Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said many courageous women came forward to tell similar stories about Peterson's abuse and manipulation and he's confident a jury would have found him guilty.
Peterson, 37, a former businessman and GOP activist charged with raping or sexually abusing multiple women, died Oct. 23 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at the Heber City cabin where many of his alleged assaults took place. His death came just four days after he posted a $2 million bail and was released from the Salt Lake County Jail.
Peterson maintained his innocence since his arrest on July 18. In his suicide note, however, Peterson blames his accusers and those who spoke against him, combined with a media frenzy for his death.
"I'm not taking my own life — but accepting the fact I've already been killed," Peterson wrote. "Only my death will drop the charges and the shield now used to hide these exaggerations, distortions and manufactured lies. ... So many friends and even 2 brothers turned their back on me."
The five page note — reportedly found in Peterson's pocket — was originally posted as a PDF on the website of his attorney, Jerry Salcido. Friday night, the person maintaining Peterson's Facebook page posted a note saying his family requested the note be posted and linked to the PDF.
Several names in the letter have been redacted, including nine in the second paragraph, followed by, "you have the blood of an innocent man on your hands."
Gill, however, noted on Saturday that during Peterson's two-day preliminary hearing many of Peterson's victims had the chance to tell their stories under oath. There were multiple women from multiple jurisdictions at different times who all described a common theme with Peterson and similar crimes, Gill said. And a judge found there was enough evidence to order him to stand trial.
The women testified of the fear they experienced with Peterson. One woman was shaking and sobbing from the witness stand. Another described nightmares and panic attacks from her encounters with him. Another woman said she feared Peterson was going to kill her as he held her hair and twisted it.
"To suggest that these victims somehow fabricated this or were somehow less than truthful about it, is something I find really hard to accept," Gill said. "There were multiple people who he seems to be blaming there. And to suggest that somehow they all came to some sort of grand conspiracy seems hard to believe."
Gill reaffirmed Saturday that he felt strong with his office's case against Peterson and believes he would have had a reasonable likelihood of success at trial. He said Peterson's note was just one person's perspective and did not capture the totality of the situation.
"It's unfortunate. But as I've said before, we had multiple victims. I believed those victims. I think they showed tremendous courage in coming forward," Gill said. "We certainly felt very comfortable with the probable cause of filing our charges."
Peterson had been ordered to stand trial on 25 charges, including 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse, seven counts of object rape, three counts of rape, and one count each of aggravated kidnapping, forcible sodomy, burglary and sexual battery. In Wasatch County, he faced an additional charge of forcible sexual abuse. He was accused of raping or sexually assaulting women he met at church activities or on online dating sites that catered to LDS singles.
In his note, however, Peterson called the "delusional thinking" of his accusers "stunning." He said the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" was non-existent in his case. Peterson also claimed the only person he ever pointed a gun at was himself.22 comments on this story
He also encouraged his supporters to now file a wrongful death suit, calling it the only way "to fully expose this tragic and motivated murder." He challenged his friends to "make my accusers famous" by revealing their motives. Peterson also expressed frustration with his attorneys for not saying more and letting him "fight back."
"I meet my Creator in a few short minutes, so I have no reason to lie. I want the world to learn from this tragedy and to hear my side of the story that never got told," he wrote.
On his Facebook wall, many of his friends expressed their desire for "the truth" to be revealed for Peterson's family. An obituary was also posted, noting that a graveside service would be held in Omaha on Thursday.
The suicide note ended with, "I love you all very much, even the fair-weathered friends. God bless you."