Kathleen Peterson children
True Crime

The Staircase: Who are Kathleen Peterson’s children? What is her family tree?

Kathleen did not have any children with Michael Peterson

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The tragic death of Kathleen Peterson has once again been thrown into the spotlight, thanks to Sky Atlantic’s The Staircase – so where are her children now?

How many children does she have, and by whom?

The Peterson’s complicated family tree is one of the many reasons why Kathleen’s shocking death remains so horrifying.

She was a mother figure to five children – not all of them her own.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Peterson family tree.

Kathleen Peterson and her family
Kathleen Peterson with her husband Michael and their five ‘blended’ children (Credit: Netflix)

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How many children did Kathleen Peterson have?

Kathleen Peterson was part of a ‘blended’ family with her novelist husband Michael Peterson.

Before her tragic death in 2001, Kathleen Peterson and Michael were parents to five children between them.

On the surface, they looked like a Walton-esque happy family.

However, their lives were torn apart when Kathleen Peterson died after ‘falling’ down a flight of stairs.

Only one of the children living in the ill-fated house was Kathleen’s biological child.

Successful Nortel business executive Kathleen and Michael had no biological children together.

Kathleen Peterson children – who is her daughter Caitlin?

Kathleen Peterson’s daughter is Caitlin Clark, née Atwater.

Caitlin used her real father’s surname until her marriage to Christopher Clark.

Kathleen Peterson and her then husband Fred Atwater, a physicist, welcomed Caitlin on April 27 1982.

Caitlin then moved in with her mum Kathleen and her new husband Michael Peterson after they married in 1997.

Kathleen’s daughter joined the extended family that consisted of Clayton, Todd, Martha, and Margaret.

When Michael was arrested, Caitlin spoke out in support of her stepfather – at first.

She said: “My mother and Mike had an absolutely loving relationship and there is no way that either of them would ever wish any sort of harm on the other one.”

However, Caitlin began to grow suspicious of Michael during the trial.

She changed her view when she saw the autopsy photographs of her mother’s body.

Kathleen’s only daughter Caitlin shocked everyone when she sided with the prosecution during Michael’s trial for Kathleen’s death.

She eventually became a key witness for the prosecution, believing her step-father Michael Peterson was responsible for her mother’s death.

Since the trial, Caitlin’s had twins and moved to Virginia.

In 2008, Caitlin filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael.

They eventually settled for $25 million, according to Newsweek.

However, she is unlikely to receive the money as Michael says he doesn’t have the money to pay her.

Kathleen Peterson with her step-daughters and daughter Caitlin
Kathleen Peterson children: Kathleen pictured with her step-daughters and daughter Caitlin on her far right (Credit: Netflix)

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Kathleen Peterson children – who are her step-daughters?

When Kathleen married Michael Peterson, she became a step-mother to his four children.

Although two of his children have no blood relation to him.

Michael and his first wife Patricia became very close to a family called the Ratliff’s while living in West Germany.

When Elizabeth and George Ratliff died, Michael and Patricia became the guardians of their children Margaret and Martha Ratliff.

Unfortunately, Michael and Patricia divorced in 1987.

Michael went on to marry telecoms executive Kathleen in 1997.

In an alarming twist of fate, the Ratliff parents also died in mysterious circumstances…

Captain George Ratliff, an Air Force navigator, died under mysterious and unknown circumstances in 1983.

Liz Ratliff was found dead at the bottom of her staircase surrounded by pools of blood in 1985.

The Petersons had dinner with Elizabeth, Margaret, and Martha the night she died, and Michael was the last person to see her alive.

When Elizabeth Ratliff’s body was exhumed and autopsied by the North Carolina medical examiner’s office in 2003, it was determined she had been murdered.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

According to Bustle, Martha now lives in Colorado, whereas her sister Margaret lives in California.

Both have stood by their adopted father Michael Peterson – despite the similarities between the death of their real mum, and Kathleen Peterson.

Kathleen Peterson's step-daughters in court
Kathleen Peterson’s step-daughters in court – they stuck by Michael throughout the trial (Credit: Netflix)

Who are Michael Peterson’s sons and where are they?

Michael Peterson had two biological sons with his first wife Patricia.

Clayton is the oldest of Michael and Patricia’s children, followed by youngest son Todd.

Clayton and Todd grew up with Patricia after their parents divorced.

They eventually joined their dad, Margaret and Martha, in Durham, North Carolina, when they were teenagers.

Kathleen Peterson became their step-mother and treated them as she would her own children.

Todd was the first person to see Michael after Kathleen died.

During Michael Peterson’s trial, both Clayton and Todd stood by their dad and maintained his innocence.

Today, Clayton lives in Maryland with his wife and children.

Todd now lives in Tennessee.

Kathleen Peterson's sister Candace Zamperini
Kathleen Peterson’s sister Candace Zamperini during the trial (Credit: Netflix)

Who are Kathleen Peterson’s sisters and do they believe Michael?

Kathleen Peterson had two sisters – Candace Zamperini and Lori Campbell.

They have been outspoken in their belief that Michael Peterson is to blame for Kathleen’s death.

Candace Zamperini was a key witness for the prosecution during Peterson’s original 2003 trial.

She believed Michael had motive, and method.

Both Candace Zamperini and Lori Campbell spoke at Peterson’s hearing.

They expressed their frustration when Michael Peterson pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Candace was against the Netflix true crime documentary ever being made.

Candace and Lori chose not to participate in The Staircase.

The Staircase true crime documentary is currently available to watch on Netflix. A dramatisation of the same name is on Sky Atlantic.

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