NEWS FLASH: Peter Keegan was indicted for the murder of his wife, Susan, on August 9, 2017. Preparations for a trial are underway. For the most up-to-date information, see the Blog.
Susan Keegan Born: July 23, 1955 Died: November 11, 2010 Cause of death: Homicide
On November 11, 2010, Susan Keegan, a 55-year-old Mendocino County woman, was found dead in the bathroom of her Ukiah home. Her husband, Dr. Peter Keegan — Harvard undergraduate, University of California, San Francisco medical school, family practice physician — claimed Susan abused drugs and alcohol and speculated variously that her death was either an accident or a suicide.
Husband goes ballistic: Dozens of friends and family members immediately questioned that account, instead painting a portrait of a healthy and active woman who was a pillar of the Ukiah community. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department was barraged by calls to take a closer look. The couple was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce and the day before Susan’s death, Dr. Keegan had “gone ballistic” in the office of their divorce mediator.
Early investigation mishandled: The Sheriff’s early investigation into Susan’s death was poorly handled and much critical evidence was lost, especially on the morning the police came to the Keegan home. Although the body was photographed, the home was not treated as a crime scene. The doctor’s story of finding Susan’s body initially went unchallenged.
Following an autopsy, believed to have been incomplete, the body was handed back to her husband, who had her cremated a few days later.
A story that didn’t make sense: That might have been the end of the case, except suspicious family and friends kept up the pressure on Mendocino County law enforcement. And newly elected District Attorney David Eyster had the nose for a story that didn’t make sense. The DA’s investigators took charge.
Authorities sought and received a warrant and conducted a search of the family home in mid-June 2011. Long delays followed. The DNA labs in the state of California are notoriously backlogged and months passed without results.
Cause of death changed to homicide: But in late August 2012, law enforcement announced that Susan Keegan’s death was, in fact, a “homicide,” and issued an amended death certificate. Mendocino County officials told the press that there is a “person of interest” in the case.
A second search warrant was executed at the Keegan home in January 2013.
Mendocino County officials continue to tell the press, family and friends that the case remains “an active investigation.” But the third anniversary of Susan Keegan’s death is only a few months away. And justice delayed is justice denied.
The case remains an “active investigation.” But justice delayed is justice denied.
Timeline: The Wait for Justice Continues
November 11, 2010: Susan Keegan reported dead at her Ukiah home by her husband, Dr. Peter Keegan.
November 11, 2010: Family and friends call Sheriff’s office and explain why death should be treated as suspicious.
November 13, 2010 (approximate): Body released to husband and cremated shortly afterward.
Fall 2010, Winter/Spring 2011: Family and friends begin calling the Sheriff’s office and the DA’s office urging a full investigation.
June, 2011: Search warrant executed at Keegan home.
Summer/Fall 2011 to Winter/Spring 2012: Family and friends continue to call DA’s office inquiring about the status of the investigation. DA tells the public the case is “under investigation.”
August, 2012: The cause of Susan Keegan’s death is officially declared “Homicide.” Sheriff’s office tells media “there is a person of interest.”
Fall/Winter 2012: Family and friends continue to call DA’s office inquiring about the status of the investigation. DA tells the public the case is “under investigation.”
January 2013: Second search warrant executed at Keegan home. Family and friends continue to call DA’s office inquiring about the status of the investigation.
April 2013: Assistant DA says case is “under investigation.”
July 2013: Honoring Susan Keegan’s birthday and frustrated with the long wait for justice, the Justice4Susan Committee launches web site and petition drive.
August 9, 2017: Peter Keegan indicted for the murder of his wife, Susan Keegan.
We Are Sorry For This Delay
The anguished season of suspense stalls
like a crowded subway train. We sit, we stand
we do our best to live sequestered with our grief.
We sleep, we read, we think about
the destination and the route. PA squawks hint
maybe we’ll move soon, congestion
tying up the system, need to fix, to test
to test the tests –
until we hope the wheels still roll
and aren’t rusted rigid with arrest.
But mostly there is nothing but stillness
save the drip of tunnel leaks
imagined steps of red-eyed-rat feet
cavorting in congealing gloom
yet somehow we still trust our ride
will haul us to the station up ahead
that doors will open and we’ll go our way
where all the journey’s trials will fade like mist