Who Was Patricia Sue Peterson, the First Wife of Michael Peterson?

Patricia Sue Peterson (born March 12, 1943; died on July 2021, at 78 years old) was an American teacher best known as the first wife of Michael Peterson, a former US army personnel who is accused of murdering his second wife.

Michael Peterson faced a series of trials after his second wife died on the staircase of their home. His first ex-wife, Patricia Sue Peterson, whom he was married to for 21 years before their divorce, stood by him during all these trials to prove his innocence. Unfortunately, she died in 2021. Michael Peterson’s story is captured in the HBO documentary Death on the Staircase and this has piqued interest in him as well as his first wife, Patricia.

Patricia Sue Peterson’s Biography Summary

  • Full name: Patricia Sue Peterson
  • Nickname: Patty
  • Gender: Female
  • Date of birth: March 12, 1943
  • Date of Death: July 8, 2021
  • Cause of Death: Severe heart attack
  • Nationality: American
  • Zodiac Sign: Pisces
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Marital Status: Divorced
  • Patricia Sue Peterson’s ex-Husband: Michael Peterson
  • Patricia Sue Peterson’s Children: (Clayton Peterson and Todd Peterson; adopted children: Martha Ratliff and Magaret Ratliff)
  • Patricia Sue Peterson’s Parents: John Paul Balkman and Mary Jo Winston
  • Siblings: John Paul Balkman and Doug Balkman
  • Famous for: being the first ex-wife of Michael Peterson

Patricia Sue Peterson Was an Arkansas Native

Patricia Sue Peterson was born Patricia Sue Balkman on March 12, 1943, in Paris, Logan County, Arkansas, in the United States. She was an American national born under the Pisces birth sign. The former teacher did not reveal her ethnicity during her lifetime.

Patricia was born to John Paul Balkman, a military personnel in the United States. Her mother’s name was revealed to be Mary Jo Winston. Patricia Sue Peterson grew up in the United States alongside her brothers, John Paul Balkman and Doug Balkman. What her brothers did for a living was not disclosed.

Patricia Sue Peterson had a solid educational background. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas. She later enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she earned a Master’s degree in education.

The former teacher had a flourishing teaching career. She reportedly worked as a teacher in the U.S. Defense Department in Germany. Patricia was revealed to teach the elementary section of the children of military personnel.

She Became Michael Peterson’s Wife in 1966

Patricia Sue Peterson and Michael Peterson met each other through their mutual involvement was the U.S. military. They are said to have met sometime in the 60s and gotten to know each other better with the passage of time. Though they did not reveal when they got married, it was disclosed that Patricia was 23 years old at the time she married her ex-husband. Following this, it was deduced that they got married in 1966.

Patricia and Michael got married at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in the United States. After her husband served in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, they moved to North Carolina. Some years after they had welcomed their children, they relocated to Germany, where they lived with their family before they divorced.

Their Marriage Lasted for a Total of 21 Years 

Patricia Peterson’s marriage to Michael Peterson lasted for 21 years. The duo reportedly separated in 1987, and by 1994, their divorce was finalized. Meanwhile, the ex-couple has remained silent about the reason for their divorce. The terms of their divorce settlement have also not been revealed.

After their divorce, Patricia Sue Peterson remained single but later moved back and lived with Michael before she died. Michael Peterson relocated back to North Carolina, where he met and married his second wife, Kathleen Peterson. After he was jailed and released for the murder of Kathleen, he began dating Sophie Brunet and they were together for some time before they called it quits.

Patricia Sue Peterson

Patricia Peterson Supported Her Ex-husband During His Murder Trial

While Patricia Sue Peterson and Michael Peterson still lived in Germany, Patty’s friend, Elizabeth Ratliff, was found dead in her home. This was after Michael, the last person who saw her alive, brought her home. Though he was suspected of having a hand in her death, there was no evidence to prove that he was guilty. He and Patricia then went on to adopt Elizabeth’s daughters, Martha Ratliff and Margaret Ratliff, as her husband was also deceased.

Years after Michael Peterson was married to his second wife, Kathleen, she was found dead on the foot of the staircase in their house. According to reports, it was revealed that she had a drink at the poolside with her husband after dinner. This was a trying time for Michael as he was accused of deliberately pushing Kathleen down the staircase. He was subsequently tried for murder.

According to his daughter, Caitlin, whom he welcomed with Kathleen, she believed that her father murdered her mother. Kathleen’s sisters were also convinced that Michael killed their sister revealing that he was hostile and abusive. Meanwhile, according to some reports, he killed her after she confronted him about the numerous sex photos of men that she saw on his computer.

An attorney further stated that Michael must have killed his wife to gain access to her assets, including her insurance, which is about $1.8 million, and others. However, Patricia Sue Peterson stood up for her ex-husband and tried all that she could to prove his innocence. She also lent him some money to foot his legal bills.

In 2003, Michael was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, in 2017, he took the Alford plea, which made the government set him free and place him on house arrest. At this time, he moved in with his first ex-wife, Patricia Sue Peterson, and lived with her till her death. After he was released, he continued working on the HBO documentary, The Staircase.

Patricia Sue Peterson had Two Sons With Michael Peterson

Patricia Sue Peterson and Michael Peterson welcomed two sons before moving from North Carolina to Germany. They are also proud parents to their adopted daughters, Martha and Margaret.

Clayton Peterson

Clayton Peterson is the first child and son of Patricia Sue Peterson and her ex-husband, Michael. His age cannot be determined as his birth details have been kept from the public’s knowledge. Together with his younger brother, they spent most of their childhood in Germany and moved to North Carolina at a teenage age.

There are no details about his educational background, however, it is assumed that he gained a good level of education. Meanwhile, Clayton was once given a four-year prison term after a failed attempt to firebomb the administrative building at Duke University.

Clayton played a vital role during his father’s trial and often visited him in prison. He works as an engineer in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also lives with his wife, Becky, and two sons, Dorian and Lucien.

Todd Peterson

Todd Peterson is the second son of Michael and Patricia Peterson. Just like his older brother, his birth details have also remained vague. He stood strong and supported his father throughout his trials. However, he later accused his father of the murder of his stepmother, Kathleen. He also accused his father of being behind his mother’s, Patricia, death. Todd currently lives in Tennessee, what he does at the moment is not known.

Patricia Sue Peterson

What Happened to Patricia Peterson?

Following the fact that Patricia Sue Peterson’s ex-husband was linked to two murders, many believed that he might have killed his ex-wife. However, this is not the case as Patricia Sue Peterson reportedly died of a severe heart attack on July 8, 2021, at Duke University Hospital at the age of 78 years.

Meanwhile, her death was reportedly linked to her ex-husband, with whom she lived for two years before her death. Their son, Todd has accused his father of leaving his mother in a critical condition for three hours before calling them to call 911. He also pointed out that his father started taking money from his mother’s account after she died.

Todd threatened to call the cops on his dad but it was never revealed if he did so later. A funeral was conducted for Patricia Sue Peterson and her body was cremated.



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