A Few Thoughts After Finishing Netflix’s The Staircase

the staircase netflix

Netflix has to stop making true crime documentaries. It’s bad for my health. Last week, I finished The Staircase and like most people, still have questions over whether or not Michael Peterson killed his wife, Kathleen.

Shameless Plug: I wrote a summary for The Staircase on Hidden Remote so do yourself a favor and read that before viewing the rest of this article. Yes, I would appreciate the views, but it summarizes the first 10 episodes as well as going in depth for the last three, which were new to Netflix. Here is a basic summary of the series.

Hidden Remote – “On December 9, 2001, novelist Michael Peterson made a 911 call that would change his life forever. Michael’s wife, Kathleen Peterson, had an accident that left her lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in their home in Durham, North Carolina. Michael deemed it an accident, saying Kathleen fell down the stairs, but as the police started to investigate, they soon charged Michael with murder.”

If you like true crime series, you should like The Staircase. To compare it to other shows like Making a Murderer and The Keepers, it’s a much slower burn. The Staircase does not get cooking until the trial, where all of the climatic twists and turns appear. Once you’re finished watching, come back to this article and read my thoughts that I had after finishing the show.

Michael Peterson’s Behavior Throughout The Trial Was Not Only Creepy, But Downright Strange

The Staircase / Netflix

Picture this. You are being accused of murdering your wife. If you lose the trial, you will go to prison for life without parole. Would you act it was just any other day? Would you continue to make jokes, drink wine, smoke from a pipe, and listen to classical music with a smile on your face? No one in their right mind would act “normal” for fear of prison unless you are Michael Peterson. Peterson continually lit up his pipe, read books, joked with his children, and acted like nothing was wrong throughout the first eight episodes. I don’t care if the judge says there’s a 99% chance you’ll walk freely. There is still a chance that everything will go wrong. I don’t know if Michael was trying to take his mind off the trial by acting like nothing is wrong, but his behavior was strange and creepy.

Here’s a tidbit. Michael actually dated the editor of the documentary, Sophie Brunet. Strange is the best word to describe the entire series.

The Owl Theory Makes Sense And I’m Starting To Believe It More And More

Michael Peterson did not kill his wife, Kathleen. An owl did.

Wait, what? Despite being 13 episodes long, The Staircase did not mention this theory until towards the end of the series and even then, it wasn’t fully explained. The reason why experts could never recreate Kathleen’s death was due to the fact that the wounds on Kathleen’s head were unidentifiable. Kathleen had lacerations on her head, but no skull fractures or signs of blunt force trauma, which means she probably wasn’t struck on the head. Experts guessed that a blow poke was the murder weapon, but I’m not buying it.

That’s where the Owl Theory comes in. To summarize, a Barred Owl could have attacked Kathleen as she walked inside from the pool. The owl might have gotten tangled in Kathleen’s hair, digging the claws into her head, which would explain the pools of blood. Kathleen, trying to fend the owl off, could have fallen down, hit her head, and died at the bottom of the staircase. It sounds crazy, but The Staircase also left out the fact that pine needles and feathers were found in Kathleen’s hair. Even the director of the series believes an owl could have killed Kathleen.

The Wrap – “I talked to people who have been attacked and injured by owls, and I have to say, in my opinion, it’s the most possible explanation for the very special injuries that Kathleen Peterson had suffered. No one introduced that theory inside a courtroom.”

Have fun going down Owl Theory rabbit holes.

Whether He Killed His Wife Or She Fell Down The Stairs, Michael Peterson Should Not Have Been Convicted 

The Staircase / Netflix

Did Michael Peterson kill his wife? I actually lean towards no, but even if you lean towards yes, I don’t see how a court could convict him based on the evidence presented in the trail. With no witness, I need to be convinced how and why a murder occurred. After doing some more research about stuff that was either glossed over or left out of the series, debt and the collection of assets after death could be a motive. Michael and Kathleen had more than $142,000 worth of debt. Michael would also receive Kathleen’s assets if she died. Michael’s sons were also in debt and Michael even asked his first wife Patty to take a 30,000 loan to help the boys out. Coincidently, this happened 11 days before Kathleen’s death.

I also can’t get past the strangulation injuries on Kathleen’s neck as well as the idea that Kathleen was dead for longer than a few minutes. Hypothetically, Michael could have strangled Kathleen, thrown her down the stairs to her death, developed a plan to tell authorities, and call paramedics a while later. It’s definitely possible.

However, the lacerations on the head without a blunt force trauma or a murder weapon sealed the deal for my reasonable doubt. How can you beat someone to death with a blow poke without injuring their skull? It’s almost impossible. Watching Duane Deaver’s experiments made me laugh laugh out loud. I’m not a science expert, but his recreation attempts were atrocious. Deaver clearly created the experiment to achieve the result he wanted. I didn’t need to hear that Deaver was later fired for falsifying evidence in 34 cases. I knew from the start that Deaver was shady. I understand that the jury is supposed to trust the experts, but it blows my mind that Deaver’s testimony was the reason for the guilty conviction. A woman danced in the background when Deaver’s shorts received a blood spat from his experiment. I’m not talking about a fist pump. She high stepped like she was Deion Sanders. His credibility should have been thrown out the window right then and there. That is why I would have had a reasonable doubt and would vote not guilty.

Let me know what you think about The Staircase in the comments or tweet to me @danny_giro.

2 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts After Finishing Netflix’s The Staircase”

  1. If an owl did attack Kathleen, getting stuck in her hair, then surely both the owl and Kathleen would be twisting and pulling thus causing the tear in her neck. Also the lack of oxygen to the brain would have been caused by the blood loss surely, as we get oxygen from blood.


  2. the strangulation is the only thing keeping me from completely going not guilty.on this but the owl theory is completely believable the more you look into how barred owls attack people out of the blue and those scratch marks look like talon marks, then the feathers. However, how do you tie the strangulation to an owl attack? You cant.

    also reading things about their money situation and the insurance policy of 1.1 mil…just cant go 100% with not guilty.


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