Following up on a "credible lead," police spent the day Saturday digging at a farm near Peoria, Illinois, looking for the remains of the missing Stacy Peterson.
After a full day's search turned up nothing, authorities said they would return later in the week with "more sophisticated equipment."
The development comes as Drew Peterson, Stacy's husband and a former Bolingbrook police officer, prepares to stand trial for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Savio was found drowned in a bathtub in 2004, a death that was initially ruled an accident. But when Stacy Peterson went missing, the Savio investigation was re-opened and ruled a murder.
Prosecutors have long alleged that Peterson murdered Stacy because of what she knew about his previous wife's death. But without a body, the ex-cop can't be charged in that case.
This latest flurry of activity in the search for Stacy Peterson comes just a month before the Savio trial is set to begin, a fact which angers the defense. From the Chicago Tribune:
"They're trying to dirty up the defendant with an irrelevant search," attorney Joel Brodsky said. "It's a despicable tactic."
Brodsky, who spoke to Peterson on Saturday, described his client as "upbeat, confident and looking forward to trial."
But police say the lead they're pursuing is credible. TMZ.com reported that Peterson told a fellow inmate where he buried Stacy's body, but both the authorities and the Peterson defense team deny that story, pointing out that Peterson has been held in isolation.
Still, to many involved, it felt like a day of fruitless efforts. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
[State Police Master Sgt. Tom] Burek also declined to say whether or not any evidence was recovered during Saturday's search. But a law enforcement source told the Sun-Times nothing was found. The source was also less than optimistic about the potential of the latest lead, one in a series that have so far yielded little if nothing.
"I'm not convinced yet," the source said.
Earlier in the day, Pam Bosco, the spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson's family, said police seemed "more positive on this than any of the leads they've had in the past."
But by day's end, that hope had evaporated.
"It just seems like a lot of chaos over nothing much," Bosco said.
Authorities will resume the search at an unspecified date.
Watch NBC Chicago's coverage of the search: