#05) January 2003
Laci Peterson Case Information:
When: January 2003
January 1 According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak twice by phone. True to his promise, Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey at 12:01 a.m. while she is at Shawn Sibley’s party. She tells him that she has been singing karaoke. She says she has been amazed at the verbal progress of Ayiana Frey during the time he has been away. He tells her that he has not yet thought of a New Year’s resolution as she had asked him to because “it’s only been nine hours since we’ve talked.” She suggests her own for him: That he not travel so much. He tells her it will be “less than a month” before he returns, and that he is planning on being back January 25, 2003, but must then go to Guadalajara. She says that her own resolutions are to build her business, maintain her good health and grow closer to God. Following on that resolution, she tells him she had an “awesome” Sunday at church that week and that the sermon was largely on the subject of trust. She asks him if he would be interested in meeting the grandparents of Ayiana Frey, and he replies, “Of course.” He admits that his lack of religious faith and her desire to have more children could be stumbling blocks in the development of their romance, but tells her, “What we need to do, sweetheart, is not analyze our relationship.” He tells her at one point that he feels he is at “midlife” and that he thinks he will “physically be crippled” by the time he is 60. When she challenges him, he admits, “Self-deprecation is a constant thing with me…I have a big enough ego that it doesn’t matter.” He tells her he is leaving late in the evening, taking a train to Brussels, Belgium. He says to her, “You’re just an amazing woman, and I know you know that—and never say you’re sorry for sharing. You’re wonderful.” He continues to woo her, saying, “Our psyches are, you know, kinda relaxed and you are focused on relationships, as opposed to getting up in the morning and doing things or, you know, going to pick up dry cleaning—things like that.” He sets up a time when the two can talk again, adding, “Our relationship will grow—and know how beautiful you are. Okay, Sweetie?” Amber Frey later states that the party broke up around 3:30 a.m. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., the Red Lion Hotel hosts a “pajama brunch” to raise money for the volunteer command center. By the time the doors open, there is a line of people waiting to get in. For most of the next few hours, the wait for a table is about 45 minutes. Cost for the brunch is $2.03 for guests who wear pajamas and $6.95 to $8.95 for others. The brunch raises $4,000 for the center (by some accounts, around $3,500). “We expected 350 to 400 people at the most, and we’ve had over 800 customers,” Brad Saltzman reports, “Most of the customers said they came in here to support Laci.” When the brunch closes at 2:00 p.m., there are still persons wanting to participate. The Modesto Police Department mobile command center relocates from East La Loma Park across town to a crime there. Homer Maldonado reports his December 24, 2002, sighting to investigators as searchers fan out from East La Loma Park. Modesto Police Department officials publicly announce they now believe Laci Peterson was the victim of foul play. Det. Doug Ridenour characterizes the day as mostly a “break” from the intensity of the case, but informs reporters that officers spent the day looking for sex offenders who might be living under the Seventh and Ninth street bridges, hoping these homeless persons might have some leads. Kathleen Conner, Laci Peterson’s friend, is quoted as saying that she “was always a very active, positive and outgoing person and a very tough young lady—and that’s why we’re not giving up hope.” Susan Caudillo states, “We wake up in the morning and say this could be the day where we hear something significant.” Lee Peterson echoes the sentiment that Laci Peterson is still alive: “I feel that she’s still with us and has the baby and we’re going to find her.” In the evening, Amber Frey calls Det. Richard Byrd from her cell phone to his home phone. The two speak for 26 minutes. At 10:05 p.m., Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey again. The two discuss Ayiana Frey. He then complains about a barking dog next to his hotel, and seemingly forgets for a moment his earlier statement that he was leaving Paris for Brussels: “And last night…well, this morning, too,” he begins. Concerning the dog, he tells her, “I want to kill it.”
January 2 According to Amber Frey, she works in the morning. Then, Ava Frey and her two boys arrive in the afternoon to pick up Ayiana Frey and go to Disneyland along with Ava Frey’s boyfriend. Amber Frey has dinner with a friend at “Casa de Cronos.” The Modesto Police Department asks the public to help verify the whereabouts of Scott Peterson on December 24, 2002. They also ask that anyone come forward who saw him in Berkeley that day or saw him anywhere the day before. Det. Doug Ridenour declines to reveal any specific reason why investigators are now widening their request for information about Scott Peterson to December 23, 2002, saying only that, “investigators need more information to confirm or corroborate Mr. Peterson’s story.” The Modesto Police Department releases pictures of Scott Peterson’s impounded pickup truck, boat and boat trailer. Ridenour tells reporters, “We want to eliminate him from this investigation. If we have an independent witness who saw him that morning, that would help.” He adds that forensic evidence was taken from Scott Peterson’s boat and truck, and sent to a Department of Justice lab, but that it could take as long as 60 days to receive the results. So far, he says, the Modesto Police Department has accrued about $40,000 in overtime related to the case. When asked if Scott Peterson was cooperating with police, Ridenour says, “He has continued to cooperate to some degree, yes. I cannot elaborate on that.” Sharon Rocha publicly rejects the idea that Scott Peterson could be linked to a crime: “We feel Scott has nothing to do with it, with the disappearance of Laci.” Investigators search Berkeley Marina. Investigators go on horseback to homeless camps to try to locate some of the registered sex offenders in the area. Sgt. Ron Cloward states, “Each day we become a little more pessimistic.” The Modesto Bee publishes a list of the missing items from the Covena Avenue burglary: a Tec 9mm semiautomatic handgun, a Beretta .380-caliber handgun, a bluish-green Ryobi drill, a Campbell-Hausfeld pneumatic tool kit, a Canon AE-1 35 mm camera, a woman’s Gucci watch, a Louis Vuitton purse, a Firefyter FF2500 safe, and numerous items of jewelry, including large-carat rubies and diamonds. The safe reportedly contained $3,000 in cash and $50,000 in jewelry. California state parole officers receive a tip that leads them to two suspects in the Covena Avenue burglary. Late in the day, Modesto Police Department officers book two suspects in that case: Steven Todd and Glen Pearce. Investigators determine through interviews with the two suspects that they seem to be telling the truth and that the burglary occurred between 4:00 and 7:30 a.m. on December 26, 2002. According to Det. George Stough, the suspects are cooperative, with Todd expressing a fear of any connection with the Laci Peterson case. Todd tells investigators that he travels the La Loma area often. He tells them he saw several television news trucks in the Covena Avenue area, so he picked an alternate entry into the home. According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least twice by phone; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak five times by phone. He calls her at 10:15 p.m., still complaining of a barking dog. He asks her to rent Love Affair and watch it. She tells him that the week of Christmas was “nonstop” for her. He tells her that he sold his condominium and an automobile. He calls her again at 10:42 p.m. and 10:56 p.m., the second time leaving a message.
January 3 Scott Peterson meets privately with Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino for about 25 minutes at Starbucks Coffee near Tenth Street Place. Lee Peterson joins the two about halfway through the meeting. Sabatino summarizes the meeting in a one-page report to Roy Wasden, later commenting that Scott Peterson showed no grief but only “anxiety.” Police officials confirm that the Covena Avenue burglary had nothing to do with the Laci Peterson case. “We’re confident in our minds that we have resolved one crime,” Det. Doug Ridenour says. “And now we can get back to focusing on Laci’s disappearance.” Sgt. Ron Cloward states that the search for Laci Peterson has extended into Tuolumne, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Merced and Mariposa counties. Several news agencies report incorrect information regarding a search and a purported arrest that leads to widespread rumors that there has been an arrest in the case. At about 4:00 p.m., Jim Brazelton calls Roy Wasden to find out for himself if the rumors are true. Det. Craig Grogan asks Scott Peterson about a mistress. He replies that he had not dated anyone since marrying Laci Peterson. Modesto Police Department investigators begin using GPS devices to track the movements of Scott Peterson’s vehicles. The FBI sets up a surveillance camera across the street from Scott and Laci Peterson’s home. According to Sharon Rocha’s trial testimony, Scott Peterson joins her and others for dinner, an event during which he tells her that the Modesto Police Department has a phony photograph of him with another woman. “They did a good job,” he tells her. “It looked a lot like me.” Glen Pearce takes a polygraph examination in which he answers about ten questions, some having to do with the disappearance of Laci Peterson. According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least twice by phone; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak three times by phone. At 11:06 p.m., the two share a brief conversation during which neither acknowledges being able to hear the other.
January 4 Investigators, with 30 divers and 6 specially trained search dogs, comb the shore and waters of San Francisco Bay from Berkeley Marina to Brooks Island, drawn by the fact that Scott Peterson says he was there on December 24, 2002. According to an article in the National Enquirer, the trailing dog Trimble is released at three different points near California Highway 132 and, each time, picks up Scott Peterson’s scent and heads west—toward the Berkeley Marina. Late in the afternoon, searchers pull a tarp from the water. Sgt. Ron Cloward states, “They pulled a tarp out of the water and found no one in it. It was nothing significant. It was just a tarp.” According to Cloward, search teams are scheduled to return the following day to conclude the search of Brooks Island. According to one report, Scott Peterson has lunch at a cafe near the Berkeley Marina. More than 40 officers and 14 cadaver dogs search rural areas and waterways in Tuolumne, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Merced and Mariposa counties, including 10 dogs searching along part of the California Aqueduct and along waterways and land near Highway 132 west of Modesto. According to Cloward, the California Rescue Dog Association is furnishing the dogs at the request of the California Office of Emergency Services and 75 percent of the water dogs in the state are at work on the Laci Peterson case. He admits that investigators are “running out of places to send volunteers,” but asks that volunteers keep looking for clues: “Just keep looking.” Public works crews once again remove every manhole cover in East La Loma Park and around Scott and Laci Peterson’s home, but find no evidence. Det. Al Brocchini speaks with Karen Servas. She agrees to speak to investigators at any time and to note any other unusual things that she sees or remembers. Amy Rocha tells investigators that there are security cameras installed at Salon Salon that may have recorded Laci Peterson’s visit there on December 23, 2004. The Modesto Bee profiles the family of Chandra Levy and their support for the friends and family of Laci Peterson and also runs a column by Judy Sly in which she states she is a neighbor of Scott and Laci Peterson and asks the national media to not make the case a “spectacle.” Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera discusses the Laci Peterson case on his At Large program, interviewing people in Modesto via satellite from his studio in New York. A reporter from the National Enquirer arrives in Modesto. Amber Frey goes to Brenda McGehee’s home to pick up Ayiana Frey, who has been with Ava Frey since January 2, 2003. The two argue over the fact that Ava Frey did not telephone Amber Frey. She calls Shawn Sibley to vent about the argument. Sibley asks her to meet at church, but Amber Frey tells her she is going to a different congregation. Sibley then asks to meet her for dinner. Amber Frey cancels plans to attend an in-home lingerie and nightware sales party. According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least twice by phone; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak five times by phone. At 10:30 p.m., the two share a brief conversation. At 10:32 p.m., he calls her and the two speak for about 55 minutes. She tells him that she is still very upset because of fighting with Ava Frey. He waxes eloquent about “agape love” in the Bible, confusing it with a sort of caring romantic love, and tells Amber Frey how he would need a thesaurus to find the right words to describe her. At one point, he says, “There’s a tear in my eye and it’s trickling.” The two discuss movies. He teaches her a new word (“genre”) and explains the meaning of a romantic comedy. He admits enjoying the part in A Beautiful Mind where the lead actor is able to “cut through the crap” of romance and immediately ask a woman at a bar to sleep with him. He confesses that he often pretends to be knowledgeable about something when in fact he is not, and it keeps him from experiencing new things. He tells her he has finally settled on a New Year’s resolution: “To deal with things that are irritable [sic] immediately.” Somewhat tellingly, he suggests, “Love doesn’t mean that people can be together forever.” He half-jokingly boasts, “I’m not half the turd I was when I was 18.” He tells her he is leaving again, this time to catch a plane to Madrid to visit his company’s production office.
January 5 Beginning about 7:30 a.m., Scott Peterson, followed by a surveillance team, drives Laci Peterson’s Land Rover to several places in Modesto. With a friend, he passes out missing-person fliers at six Modesto-area churches. At 11:42 a.m., he returns home, changes clothes and leaves again in a small silver Subaru belonging to Aaron Fritz. Still followed by a surveillance team, Scott Peterson drives at speeds up to 90 miles per hour directly to the San Francisco area, parks at the Berkeley Marina, and looks out over the bay for a few minutes before driving straight home. Scott Peterson meets with Eric Olsen at a restaurant to discuss Olsen’s resignation and the transition of duties and supplies. Amber Frey attends church in Fresno. The command post at East La Loma Park completes its last day of operations. Investigators continue to broaden their search in efforts to locate Laci Peterson. Nine sheriff’s department divers from Stanislaus and Calaveras County focus on a small section of Tulloch Lake under O’Byrnes Ferry Road Bridge at the border of Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. Sgt. Ron Cloward states that search teams have been sent to Merced, Tuolumne, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Alameda and Mariposa counties. More than a dozen officers and five dogs take a second look at several areas within the county that had previously been searched, including the area underneath the bridge on Highway 132 that crosses the San Joaquin River and wetland areas near Mape’s Ranch. “I wanted to get maximum use out of the dog teams before they leave the area,” Cloward says. He states that plans to return to Brooks Island were scrapped because the search team was able to finish the work the previous day: “I received a call from my officers late Saturday night, and they said they worked into the night and finished the search. There was no reason to go back.” The Modesto Bee runs an article about “self-styled psychics, tarot card readers and pet communicators” offering their skills to help locate Laci Peterson. According to an article in the National Enquirer, Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey to confess that he had lied to her—he had a pregnant wife who had disappeared and he was helping run the search for her. Concluding the conversation, he says: “I want you to know I will never lie to you again.” (Actually, this call takes place on January 6, 2003.) According to another article in the National Enquirer, Amber Frey becomes angry at Scott Peterson for lying to her—a reaction that does not sit well with Modesto Police Department officials. According to the same article, during conversations the two have during this time period, Scott Peterson indicates that he is planning to flee the country and asks Amber Frey to consider moving to Europe with him. Geraldo Rivera discusses the Laci Peterson case on his At Large program on location at the Red Lion Hotel, interviewing volunteers who have helped distribute fliers about her disappearance, as well as locals who share opinions on the case. According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least twice by phone; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak three times by phone.
January 6 Beginning about 7:30 a.m., Scott Peterson, followed by a surveillance team, drives Laci Peterson’s Land Rover to the Red Lion Hotel, where he stays for about 45 minutes. He then drives to Kirk McAllister’s office. He departs from there and drives to Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where he rents a red Honda Civic, and leaves the Land Rover in the Enterprise Rent-A-Car parking lot. Still followed by a surveillance team, he drives directly to the San Francisco area, arriving at about noon. He parks at the Berkeley Marina, and looks out over the bay for about two minutes before leaving for his home. According to Det. Al Brocchini, he drives “erratically”—stopping on the side of the freeway, making U-turns in the middle of blocks, pulling into parking lots and stopping briefly—on his return trip and eludes the surveillance team. After losing sight of Scott Peterson, the surveillance team returns to Modesto and stakes out the Tradecorp Warehouse, the Red Lion Hotel and Scott and Laci Peterson’s home. Scott Peterson returns to the Red Lion Hotel for a short time, where he is again located by the surveillance team. He returns the rental car to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and picks up the Land Rover. Sharon Rocha states concerning Scott Peterson: “The person we know would never ever, ever harm Laci—he loved Laci and Laci loved him.” Al Brocchini interviews Eric Olsen by telephone. Bob Ford sends a message to Sgt. Ron Cloward concerning Laci Peterson’s complaints to the City of Modesto about “undesirable activity” at the Covena Avenue trail entrance to Thousand Oaks Park. Ford also sends a copy of his original response to the complaint, written on November 11, 2002, and information being passed on from psychic Jacob Schwartz. The San Francisco Police Department contacts the Modesto Police Department, sharing information about the Evelyn Hernández case. Nine sheriff’s department divers from Stanislaus and Calaveras County spend a second consecutive day focusing on a small section of Tulloch Lake. Det. Doug Ridenour states that the blue tarp searchers pulled from San Francisco Bay two days earlier will be brought to Modesto and evaluated by detectives. “It was suspicious enough to take and have a look at it,” he says. “But, at this point, investigators don’t think it will turn out to be anything significant.” Searchers conclude their work in the Berkeley Marina area. Salon Salon donates the sales from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to the Laci Peterson search effort, generating about $6,000 ($5,200, according to some reports). “We just want to say thank you to everyone,” Amy Rocha says. Students at many Modesto-area schools pin on yellow-and-blue ribbons for Laci and Conner Peterson. Amber Frey leaves her apartment and is placed under police protection. According to one article in the National Enquirer, the two do not speak on the phone at all (presumably, based on a search of Amber Frey’s phone records), although a later article describes two telephone conversations. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey six times. At 10:13, 10:15, and 10:16 p.m., Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey. The first two conversations are cut short as she tries to tell him of a cryptic message she got from Saki Vincent, but he says he cannot hear and hangs up. During the third call, he tells her that he has been reading poetry by Boris Pasternak. She tells him she has been reading the Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13. He asks, “Sower as in the harvester or as in sewing?” She says the passage has meaning for her because she often struggles “to find or be in the good soil.” At 11:02 p.m., Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey again. During this conversation, he admits for the first time that he has not really been in Europe over the holidays, but has been in Modesto. He also admits that he was married—not a widower—when the two started dating. “The girl I’m married to, her name is Laci,” he says. “She disappeared just before Christmas. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been in Modesto with her family and mine searching for her.” Eerily, he predicts, “I know that I am, you know, I’m destroyed,” but adds, “I hope so much this doesn’t hurt you.” He insists, illogically, that he cannot elaborate on his situation because doing so would, somehow, expose her to the media. She challenges him for more information: “I deserve…an explanation of why you told me you lost your wife and this would be the first holidays you’d spend without her.” He persists in saying that he cannot explain, and that she does not understand the situation. She asks for him to explain the situation, but he says that he cannot. “You should be so angry at me,” he says, “And, God, I hope you are.” She brings him back to the subject of the “lost wife” he told her about nearly a month ago. “How is that just not such a coincidence?” she asks. “If you think I had something to do with her disappearance,” he replies, “that is so wrong.” As he continues to apologize and stonewall, he repeatedly calls her “sweetie,” prompting her to lash out, “And you still have the audacity to call me ‘sweetie’ right now?” He insists that he had plans to confess his marriage once Laci Peterson was found, but admits, “I know you can’t trust me.” He justifies his weeks of deception by saying, “I’ve never said anything to you that I didn’t mean—I lied to you about things I did.” Despite his marriage, he tells her, “I never cheated on you.” She tells him, “I’m not one to judge. There’s only one.” She then asks him again how he “lost” his wife before she went missing. “There’s different kinds of loss,” he says, but again refuses to explain. At one point, she gets confused and speaks about Laci Peterson’s pregnancy before he brings it up. She asks, “Why should I not go to the police with this?” to which he replies, “It’s your decision.” He says his delay in telling her was because of “weakness” and hoping that he could “hold on” to her. At 11:27 p.m. (according to transcripts, 11:29 p.m.; according to an article in the National Enquirer, 11:26 p.m.), Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey for a conversation that lasts 98 minutes. The talk continues about his deception, as she attempts time and time again to elicit information from him. He repeatedly replies with variations of, “I can’t tell you everything now,” and asks her to be patient until there is “resolution” for him to be able to explain everything. She asks him how he could keep up the romantic banter with her when his wife was missing, presumably the result of foul play. He responds that he has not slept in weeks. She asks if he really thinks Laci Peterson will return alive. He admits, “I’ve been losing hope,” but does say he wants to find the “bastards that did it.” At one point, she pointedly asks, “Why is it you have such a hard time with the truth?” She even asks him about the significance of January 25, 2003, as a date he said he would return from Europe. “It’s just a date I’ve picked, Amber,” he tells her. She asks what the future holds for the two of them should Laci Peterson be found alive, but again he declines to answer. “There’s never any good any a lie, Scott,” she says. “Never.” He insists that, although he hurt her with his lies, “Physically, he could never hurt anyone.” When asked why no one has come forward to claim the $500,000 reward, he responds, “Out of respect,” an answer that she seems to find nonsensical.
January 7 Amber Frey mails Scott Peterson a letter to his private mailbox. Det. Doug Ridenour tells the media that, barring any major developments, there will likely be no more news conferences until January 10, 2003. He states, “We’re not cutting back as far as the investigation or search are concerned, but there isn’t enough reason to have a news conference every day. We’re at a point where there is little information we can share each day.” Roy Wasden states that the case is costing several thousand dollars a day in overtime and has now topped the $100,000 mark with more than 3,000 overtime hours, not including officers on regular time who have shifted to the Laci Peterson case. However, he downplays the role of finances in the case. “This is not a money issue,” he says. “When we logically have exhausted all the leads and run out of places to look for her, we will rev down. At that point, we will have done everything we can do. We owe it to the community to resolve this case, and I know that’s what the community expects.” He adds that there has been no talk of scaling back the investigation. Katy Ciula confirms that the California Department of Justice’s Central Valley Regional Laboratory in Ripon will perform tests related to the Laci Peterson case. “We do have evidence, and it will be looked at here,” she says. “It will be examined in the serology lab.” According to Ciula, the analysis will take 2 to 3 weeks. She declines to reveal the specifics of the evidence—its source or how it relates to the case—but states that the serology lab typically inspects evidence for bloodstains or other fluids that may have come from living things. According to Ciula, the lab uses a variety of chemicals and even lasers to detect faint blood stains and then to extract the DNA. “You can get DNA information from a 1-millimeter to 2-millimeter blood drop,” she explains. She states that the lab worked on more than 10,000 cases in 2002: 6,000 drug cases, including 300 involving drug- making labs; 3,500 blood-alcohol samples; and 600 other criminal cases—usually homicides or rapes. Det. Jon Buehler contacts Det. Phil Owen, asking him to assist Terry Scott in tracking down insurance polices taken out on Laci Peterson. The two go to Principal Insurance Group to find Brian Ulrich, but he is out of the office. They are able to locate him and speak with him later in the day. Scuba divers search beneath the O’Byrnes Ferry Road Bridge at Tulloch Lake for a third consecutive day before halting the operation about 2:30 p.m. Joe Knittel states, “The visibility was pretty good…there didn’t appear to be anything that could possibly be a body.” During the operation, Mark Cardoza suffers a ruptured left eardrum at a depth of about 100 feet and is taken to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, where he is treated and released. Sgt. Ron Cloward tells the media the search took so long because of obstacles, such as trees and rocks, in water that ranges from 50 to 125 feet deep. He states that searchers also worked in other parts of the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills. An article in the Modesto Bee relates the comments of Cloward concerning the burglary of Rudy and Susan Medina’s home and the subsequent effort to find and collect the stolen property. According to the article, the two suspects have been “especially cooperative”—eager to distance themselves from the high-profile missing-person case—and the same has been true of those who received the loot. The article tells the story about a man walking into the Modesto Police Department offices and placing a duffel bag on the counter, telling an officer the bag was full of stolen property. According to the account, when the officer offered to get someone to take a report, the man ran outside. The article states that Cloward said he visited many people in southeast Modesto who he knew had ended up with the stolen property, telling them they could avoid prosecution by returning the goods, and leaving his card with everyone he contacted. In the article, Cloward suggests that the results were exceptional, with nearly all of the stolen goods being recovered. “When you’ve got guys running into the police department, throwing stolen property on the counter and then running away, that’s pretty rewarding. Really, that just doesn’t happen.” Beginning at 4:13 p.m., Amber Frey speaks to Scott Peterson during a 100-minute-long call in which he tells her he loves her and wants to have a family with her (according to the National Enquirer, the two have an 80-minute conversation). She asks him why he has not come forward publicly. He claims that he made an appearance on Good Morning America on December 26, 2002, and made them promise to show a photograph of Laci Peterson and the tip line telephone number, but that they only showed him, and that, after that experience, he has been skeptical of the media. She continues to press him for details of past events. He insists that some stories were true, including one about visiting Alaska with his brother over the Thanksgiving holiday, although just five days later he will admit that, too, was a falsehood. At one point, his other cellular telephone rings, but he turns it off, saying, “It’s not in my phone book, so it’s not important to me right now.” At one point, she asks him what he would do if she would offer to start over with a clean slate. He says that would be “wonderful,” but he still refuses to provide any additional information. He says he has things he needs to tell her, but that they do not relate to Laci Peterson’s disappearance. He tells her he looked at the Parable of the Sower. “That’s the first time I’ve looked at a Bible in a long time,” he remarks. She asks him to commit to speak in public the following day. “It could be 10 minutes, 5 minutes, whatever,” she tells him. “It could be very short and brief. I want for you, if you want my respect and my trust and everything else…then you will do this for me.” Toward the end of the call, Mike Richardson calls on Scott Peterson’s other cellular telephone. She asks him about a card she sent to his post office box. He replies that he has not yet received it. According to Scott Peterson, he has an appointment with Roy Wasden at 5:30 p.m., and is then going to the home of Ron Grantski and Sharon Rocha for dinner. Stacey Boyers, Renee Garza, Lori Ellsworth and Rene Tomlinson appear on Connie Chung Tonight. Roy Wasden also appears and states that 2,121 tips have been received.
January 8 Modesto Police Department investigators return to Berkeley Marina, using a borrowed search boat armed with an underwater camera to scour the waters for any clues. Officials call the search routine and say it is not based on any tip. Other searchers comb rural areas throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills. Roy Wasden says the Modesto Police Department has received more than 2,300 tips on the case. “I’m still confident we’ll reach a successful conclusion,” he says, “But we could be in this investigation for several months.” Scott Peterson rents a truck and subscribes to the Playboy Channel. Susan Levy urges health care professionals to be alert to the possibility that Laci Peterson may seek medical care. “Women who have met with abuse or violence and are ill or injured may be seen by physicians and nurses, but these women may be fearful or unable to reveal such abuse or circumstances that put their lives in danger,” she says, “Laci is pregnant so she may be especially likely to need and seek medical care.” According to an article in the Modesto Bee, the Modesto Police Department has three lead investigators assigned to the Laci Peterson case, but all 32 of the department’s detectives have spent at least some time pursuing leads. The article states that the investigation has involved about 70 officers and support personnel each day—approximately one-fifth of the overall staff. The same article reports that the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has used about 670 worker hours at a cost of about $35,000 to date, primarily through search units that have included divers, equestrian teams and searchers on all-terrain vehicles. According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least once by phone; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak five times by phone. He calls her at 1:32 p.m., saying he is at Mail Boxes Etc. to check on his mail. She says she is heading to Ava Frey’s home in Modesto. He tells Amber Frey that Modesto Police Department officials have told him there will be a major announcement on January 11, 2003, that he believes is related to the van seen parked across from his home on December 24, 2002.
January 9 At about 7:00 a.m., Scott Peterson puts some suitcases in a white rental truck. At about 10:30 a.m., he leaves his home, driving the rented vehicle. Scott Peterson receives a letter from Amber Frey in his private mailbox. He again heads straight toward the Berkeley Marina. When he arrives, he circles the parking lot, stops briefly and looks out over the San Francisco Bay, then departs. He goes to the San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay area, then to the DoubleTree Hotel in Bakersfield, where he spends the night. According to receipts presented at his trial, he shops at KMart and Sears at some point during the day. According to a report in the March 1, 2004, issue of the Globe, Bishop Bergstrom asks Scott Peterson if there are any new leads in the case, to which he replies, “No—I doubt they’ll ever find her.” At 2:30 p.m., the Modesto Police Department opens what they call their last regularly scheduled news conference on the Laci Peterson case. “We have run out of things to tell you,” Det. Doug Ridenour tells the media. Ridenour gives a rundown of the tips received so far: 2,610 tips, with about 300 of them worthy of follow-up, about 300 from psychics, about 400 involving various kidnapping theories, more than 600 from anonymous sources. Ridenour continues to refuse to answer reporters’ probes about Scott Peterson, and notes that records relating to the search warrants issued in the case have been sealed. Michael Tozzi states later that Modesto Police Department officials have not yet filed documents on what the searches might have uncovered. “Because it’s a pending investigation, the court will not verify any information until such time as that information becomes public record,” Tozzi proclaims. Reporters get no further with the Office of the District Attorney, where Carol Shipley says, “We don’t have any comment on this case because it isn’t our case to comment on.” Perhaps tellingly, department officials also repeat the by-now-familiar recitation that Scott Peterson is not a suspect, nor has he been ruled out, but ask for help in pinpointing his actions from December 22 through December 24, 2002—clearly a large amount of time that was prior to Laci Peterson’s official time of disappearance. Officials also work to put out both literal and figurative fires as a body discovered in the rubble of a burned house in Tuolumne County fuels rumors about the Laci Peterson case, when in fact it is the body of the 46-year-old woman who lived in the home. At about 3:00 p.m., using three of the harbor’s boats, investigators discover in about 15 feet of water a “mysterious” object in the same general area where the tarp was recovered five days earlier. At 6:30 p.m., the Modesto Police Department reports that a side-scan sonar search of water at the Berkeley Marina, using equipment borrowed from San Mateo County, has turned up a submerged object that may indicate a human body. “The guy from San Mateo said there’s a 50-50 chance that it is a body,” Sgt. Ron Cloward tells reporters. “The divers tried to get to it today, and they said the current was bad and the weather was bad.” Cloward explains the effectiveness of the sonar device: “The sonar puts a digital image on a viewing screen and allows us to see the shapes of objects. It can identify tires up to 300 feet underwater.” About 20 officers from other agencies assist in the marina search. Authorities state that inclement weather and fatigue among the divers will prevent them from retrieving the object or investigating it any further until the weekend of January 11–12, 2003. Authorities tell reporters that a body has been found, and then retract the statement. No buoys or boats are used to mark the location of the object. Marietta Wallace calls the Modesto Police Department tip line to report that a co-worker, “David,” saw someone matching the description of Scott Peterson driving west on Interstate 580 at about 3:00 a.m. on December 24, 2002. According to Wallace’s tip, the man is driving a truck and pulling a boat trailer, and in the truck is a large bundle wrapped in a blue blanket with a Mexican motif. The Modesto Bee runs an article putting the Laci Peterson case into perspective in relation to the some 1,400 missing-person cases the Modesto Police Department handled in 2002. According to the article, all have been resolved except ten; eight of those involved individuals who left farewell notes or who had histories of running away, and the remaining two unsolved cases are those of Laci Peterson and of Rebekah Miller. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak once by phone.
January 10 According to Mark Geragos, Scott Peterson makes a business call in the Bakersfield area in the morning. Expert divers, veterans of many San Francisco Bay water searches, publicly question the decision to delay the recovery of whatever lies at the bottom of the Berkeley Marina. Members of the media show up at the Berkeley Marina on the chance that divers will go after the object, despite the earlier pronouncement that the search would be postponed until January 11, 2003. As an indicator of the media interest in the case, a marina employee announces to the gathered reporters that one of the search boats is going out to be refueled, but will not be searching. From 6:00 to 9:00 a.m., KFIV broadcasts live from the volunteer command center at the Red Lion Hotel, with a program featuring interviews with several persons involved in the search. The program—originally planned to be an on-air fund-raiser to help pay for the costs associated with the volunteer search—provides information about the case. Amber Frey calls the volunteer command center. Speaking on behalf of the Rocha family, Amy Rocha states she does not believe that the object discovered the day before will end up having anything to do with the case: “They’re trying to clear Scott, and they’re going to have to search that area to do that. We just feel that it’s been so hyped that it’s going to be Laci. And we don’t believe that it is.” She adds that the family remains positive, but admits, “It has gotten harder.” Free fingerprinting and DNA kits are distributed at the volunteer command center, which now has its walls covered with printed e-mail messages and written letters of support for Laci Peterson and those searching for her. Investigators follow up on a tip that Laci Peterson is being held and “abused” in Tracy. When asked if he still supports his son-in-law, Ron Grantski replies in the affirmative but adds, “God help us,” if Scott Peterson is somehow involved. America’s Most Wanted comes to Modesto to cover the Laci Peterson case. The Modesto Bee runs an incorrect story about a body being found in San Francisco Bay. “Clearly, in the media frenzy that is associated with this case, there have been a number of rumors that have made it difficult to separate fact from fiction,” Roy Wasden explains. “That led to a miscommunication between the Bee and the police department.” Investigators begin tapping the phone of Scott Peterson based on a warrant issued by Wray Ladine. The wiretap instructions list Amber Frey and Lee Peterson as “target subjects” and possible “co-conspirators” with Scott Peterson in the murder of Laci Peterson. Instructions signed by Rick Distaso read as follows: “We have obtained permission from the court to intercept the communication of Scott Peterson, Amber Frey and Lee Peterson, hereinafter collectively referred to as the ‘Target Subjects,’ and any additional co-conspirators known and unknown as they occur on the telephone lines.” The wiretap intercepts calls between at least four phones known to be used by Amber Frey and Scott Peterson. Amber Frey and Scott Peterson speak at least twice by phone. Amber Frey calls Det. Jon Buehler eight times. Friends of Laci Peterson get together for a slumber party and look at albums of photographs of their missing friend. According to Scott Peterson, he goes to Mail Boxes Etc. and picks up a card and photograph from Amber Frey. He sends them back, telling her in a brief note that he no longer deserves the thoughts behind them.
January 11 On what was supposed to be a day of great joy as Laci Peterson attended a baby shower hosted by René Tomlinson, Modesto authorities state they have moved no closer to solving the mystery of what happened to her. Instead of a celebration, the day becomes “just another day of volunteering to bring her home,” according to Kim McNeely. Scott Peterson crouches in his driveway, examining the Land Rover. In the morning, he goes to the volunteer command center, then leaves with volunteers. He drives to the Berkeley Marina area, but tells family members he is near Bakersfield. He then drives to the Medeiros Reservoir near Bakersfield. He is followed by a surveillance team. He speaks with Guy Miligi, telling him that he finally got up the nerve to open his Christmas gifts, one of which was “a big ol’ table saw” from Laci Peterson. Officers search rural areas of San Joaquin and Sacramento counties. Near the Berkeley Marina, the searching begins at dawn for more than 90 officers from a variety of agencies. Two representatives of the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office stand by along with members of the media, including Geraldo Rivera. Investigators launch seven boats at about 6:30 a.m., then chase other boats away from the search zone. The actual work begins at about 8:30 a.m. Authorities use six buoys to mark the search zone, which covers roughly 2,200 square feet about 300 yards west of the end of the old Berkeley pier. At 11:45 a.m., a diver from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Dive Team is the first of twelve divers to go into the water about 300 feet from the Berkeley Pier. The divers work one at a time in 20-minute shifts, using their hands to feel the muddy bottom 15 to 30 feet below the surface. Nevertheless, a search of waters around the Berkeley Marina, where authorities had on January 9, 2003, found an object using side-scan sonar—an object they said might be a body—turns up only an anchor. Divers do not retrieve the anchor. Around 1:00 p.m., people at the volunteer center applaud and cheer upon hearing the news. “I have to laugh,” says Susan Caudillo. “It’s a very common thing thing to have in a marina. We just knew it wasn’t going to be Laci.” Lee Peterson expresses similar thoughts. “We still think she’s going to come home,” he says. Sharon Rocha leaves a message for Scott Peterson, informing him of the news. He lets out a whistle of relief. Sgt. Ron Cloward confirms the news of the anchor find to the media at 3:20 p.m., as search teams at the Berkeley Marina conclude their work for the day. Det. Craig Grogan interviews Rose Rocha. According to Scott Peterson, he attends a couple of “special prayer things.” He then calls his parents and discovers that Jackie Peterson has been taken to the hospital, presumably suffering from stress-induced vomiting. He goes to visit her in the hospital, later saying that she was given morphine and was “mumbling and drooling and kicking at the bed.” According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least once by phone; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak once by phone. Amber Frey spends the day with friends. Kristen Dempewolf gives birth to a baby boy (by some early accounts, this occurs on January 10, 2003). On hold is the baby shower Laci Peterson had planned to feature bacon-and-avocado croissant sandwiches and, as party favors, Hershey’s Kisses with a note, “It started with a kiss.” (During a later phone conversation, Scott Peterson will say incorrectly that party was planned for January 12, 2003.)
January 12 According to Scott Peterson, an unidentified caller who had been accusing him of murdering Laci Peterson calls at 2:30 a.m. and apologizes, saying, “I’m sorry I blamed you. You had nothing to do with this. I’m so sorry that this has happened.” Investigators search rural areas of Merced and San Joaquin counties. “We have some specific things we are working on and places we want to look at, but we aren’t going to release those locations,” says Sgt. Ron Cloward. “I don’t know if we will be going back into Berkeley. That will be decided when I sit down with the chief.” According to Scott Peterson, he goes to the volunteer command center at 7:00 a.m., then meets with Cloward at the Big Valley Church for a prayer service for Laci Peterson. He leaves before that service is over to attend another one at “Calvary Church.” When he arrives, the church is full, so he waits in a mezzanine area for several minutes until a man comes and invites him to sit with his family. He later tells Amber Frey that the chuch services restored his hope that Laci Peterson would be found alive. Scott Peterson then goes to St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley for the christening of Ryan Bird, which he attends with Tim and Anne Bird and other family members. According to Tim Bird, Scott Peterson looks “very uncomfortable” sitting sideways at the end of a pew and does not focus on the christening, but is “continuously looking out the back door like he was expecting the cops to come storming in after him.” After the christening, Anne Bird offers Ryan Bird to Scott Peterson. According to Tim Bird, Scott Peterson seems “flustered.” Jackie Peterson remarks that the occasion is the first time he has held a baby. Bruce O’Neill leads a prayer session. Tim Bird observes that Scott Peterson does not “seem like a distraught, upset person who was missing his wife,” but appears to be emotionless, with a “blank look on his face.” Volunteers at the volunteer command center spend most of the day making more fliers to be posted throughout the state. “It has been a slow day, but we are still doing our jobs,” says Judi McKinney. “We will keep moving forward.” Scott Peterson shows up there in the afternoon, declining again to speak to the media, but telling volunteers that the events of Saturday left him drained. “I’m kinda numb today,” he says. “I’m speechless.” Scott Peterson cancels the Playboy Channel in exchange for the hard-core pornography package called TEN Ecstasy, a move that Tim Bird will later remark as being a “sick and twisted” thing to do on the same day as Ryan Bird’s christening. Jackie Peterson continues to defend her son against increasing suspicion: “Everyone always thinks the husband or the boyfriend did it,” she says. “They have to put up with all of this simply because they didn’t have a solid alibi.” She comments on the case of Debi Whitlock, murdered in her home in 1988—a crime that many believed had been committed by her husband, Harold Whitlock, until 1999, when Scott Fizzell confessed to the murder: In the Whitlock case, an informant called the police, finally moved to share the information he kept for 11 years because he was reminded of what he knew every time he saw a poster asking for information in the case. “That’s why we have to get these posters into every pizza parlor and on every pole,” she says. “Maybe someone will finally call police and spill their guts about who really took Laci.” The Modesto Bee reports that, since the Laci Peterson case story broke on December 26, 2002, its web site has attracted more than 600,000 page views and a Laci Peterson photo section has drawn nearly 900,000 page views. According to the article, the Modesto Police Department has received more than 2,300 tips on its anonymous tips line. Det. Doug Ridenour is quoted, providing his analysis of the Laci Peterson phenomenon: “She was a wife that was expecting, she was eight months pregnant, it was Christmas Eve, there was not any indication of a prior missing or runaway problem.” However, he is unable to fully explain the interest. “There are some stories we connect closely with, as people of this country, and for others, there is not that much attention.” According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak four times by phone. He calls her at 6:04 p.m. and they speak for more than 54 minutes. She reads him a letter she wrote on December 24, 2002. She also tells him, “You weren’t with your family on Thanksgiving,” and he admits it, although in a later conversation, he says he went with his brother to his uncle’s home. He continues to predict that Laci Peterson will be found, “Then you’ll know everything, and then it’ll make sense.” He tells her that he is being advised by Kim Petersen to not go before the media. He says that he was moved by attending the prayer meetings for Laci Peterson. “It was really special,” he says. He tells Amber Frey that he has been getting calls on his cellular phone early in the morning, with a voice telling him, “Scott Peterson, you killed her. You’re going to kill your mom now. She’s on oxygen. You need to come clean and don’t kill your mom.” During the conversation, he gets a call from Jackie Peterson, but he tells her he is talking to Amber Frey, and will return the call. Scott Peterson reads to Amber Frey from the Bible and reads a poem entitled “Juliet.” She uses the opening to tell him her struggles with the lack of faith among her friends. “The Bible even says without good faith, and in faith, that you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” she says. “And that’s sad to me because our life is such a flash. It…it happens so quickly. This is…this is…this is just a second, less than a second of eternity.” She relates those struggles to her friend Shawn Sibley. “Shawn, no matter how good of a person she is and good-hearted—and she is so loving—she does not believe in God. That is hard for me.” She also speaks about her friend Jennifer, who believes that her husband’s faith will be enough for the two of them—a concept Amber Frey sees as misguided. After the call is terminated, there is a follow-up call at 7:19 p.m. He tells her he is happy when they can talk because “there’s a chance for me to tell you how beautiful you are and wonderful you are and hope that you’ll never change who you are.” He tells her that he saw her reflection in the mirror, and that she was wearing a red turtleneck sweater and black pants.
January 13 Scott Peterson formally requests to terminate the lease of the Tradecorp Warehouse within 30 days. Investigators shift their focus from the Berkeley Marina but will not provide to the media any specifics about where they are looking. Brad Saltzman announces that the volunteer effort will head south with a 1-day event planned for a hotel in the Los Angeles area on January 19, 2003. He states that the goal of the event is to drum up volunteer support in that area so that missing-person fliers can be posted. “We’ve done a great job of getting the posters through Northern California, but are having difficulty covering the southern region,” he says, noting that more than 2,200 volunteers have registered at the Modesto volunteer command center. Saltzman tells reporters he will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. on January 17, 2003, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westwood to discuss how volunteers in the area can pick up buttons and posters. “I’m excited to see something happening in Los Angeles,” says Brent Rocha. “We’ve had a lot of involvement in the Bay Area, probably because of the search of the bay, but the only thing going on in the south has been the articles printed in the newspapers.” He states that Laci Peterson’s family is grateful for the support from the community and from the media. Mike DeWine introduces the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (S. 146), later to be known as “Laci and Conner’s Law,” in the United States Senate. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak once by phone. According to Scott Peterson, he calls her once but the two do not speak. According to Amber Frey, she is ill. David Markovich comes over to bring her items and check on her and Ayiana Frey. Modesto Police Department investigators have a meeting to discuss Amber Frey’s secret calls with Scott Peterson. “Amber Frey still has a desire to have Scott Peterson in her life,” a detective notes. “She may even lie or conspire with him to withhold evidence.” Jacobson states, “Obviously, Amber Frey is no longer telling us the truth in this investigation. I suspect she may be disseminating information to Scott Peterson concerning what law enforcement knows.” Sharon Rocha, using Modesto Police Department recording equipment, quizzes Scott Peterson about the events of December 23, 2002, involving her daughter. “I talked to her at 8:30 at night,” she says. “I need to know everything that happened after that. I mean, we’ve never even had this conversation after all this time.” He briefly describes an ordinary evening, where he and his wife watched a movie and then went to bed. Sharon Rocha turns her questioning to the day her daughter was reported missing. “It’s odd that you didn’t notice anything when you walked in the house,” she tells him. “How come you didn’t notice when you walked in that she hadn’t been baking and the lights weren’t on?” Members of the Rocha family and the Peterson family appear on Larry King Live.
January 14 Volunteers begin setting up a search headquarters in Los Angeles. Roy Wasden comments on the progress of the case to the media. “You exhaust the logical search places,” he says. “And at some point you switch from looking for an injured, live person. That happens between 72 and 96 hours. For much of our search, when we’re looking in places underwater, we’re looking for a body.” He confirms that some close to Laci Peterson have been ruled out as suspects, but that Scott Peterson has not been. He also comments on speculation that Laci Peterson is being held somewhere for her baby: “I guess it’s always a possibility,” he says, “but from my point of view and my experience, a $500,000 reward offered for her safe return is sufficient motivation for someone who knows where she is.” Scott Peterson, going through e-mail at the volunteer command center, asks Terri Western about selling the home he shared with Laci Peterson. “I can’t have Laci come back there,” he tells Western. She replies, “Well, I understand…however, now is not the time or place to discuss this.” The Modesto Bee reports that the Modesto volunteer command center has been open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day since December 26, 2002. The article also states that, according to volunteers, the missing-person fliers have been posted in many places, including Yosemite National Park, Nevada, Washington state and at the Mexico-California border. Scott Peterson calls Shawn Sibley. According to Amber Frey’s phone records, she and Scott Peterson speak at least once by phone and she also calls the volunteer command center. According to Det. Craig Grogan’s trial testimony, investigators intercept a conversation between her and Scott Peterson, although she will later say she had no contact with Scott Peterson, arousing suspicion of her. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak four times by phone. He calls her at 11:58 a.m., and the two talk for just longer than 54 minutes. She asks him questions about the investigation, and about why no family members appearing on television seem to know or admit that he had any kind of romantic relationship outside of his marriage. “Is that because that’s the truth to them?” she questions. “Frankly, I would just like to know about you,” he replies. “Do you know what I’m saying.” She challenges him. “It’s always been that way, though, hasn’t it, from the beginning? You’ve always been more interested in me than for me to ever ask you any questions. Why is it that way?” He asks her to pin down her feelings. “I’m frustrated, I’m betrayed…I feel sickened,” she responds. At one point, she asks, “Should I be in fear of my own life?” He replies, “Not from me.” She says she thinks she is a magnet to the wrong kinds of people. Ironically, despite having had Scott Peterson pick up Ayiana Frey from daycare, she relates a conversation she had with Ayiana Frey’s father in which she asked him not to bring his girlfriend along when he took the girl to the zoo, because “she’s better off without the complications of someone in and out of consistency.” Amber Frey tells Scott Peterson it is frustrating to hear everyone say that he and Laci Peterson had a “perfect” marriage. At 4:24 p.m., Kirk McAllister calls Scott Peterson’s cell phone. At the time, Steve Hoek, who is monitoring Scott Peterson’s calls, has the speaker volume turned down. When Hoek turns up the volume, he hears a conversation about computer software and then minimizes the call again. When he once again listens in, he recognizes McAllister’s voice as Scott Peterson asks a question about the investigation—presumably if Gary Ermoian had discovered any leads. Later reports will claim that the call got by the electronic screening system because it was placed by McAllister at a location other than his main office. Sharon Rocha and other members of the Rocha family appear on Dateline NBC.
January 15 Detectives meet with Sharon Rocha, Ron Grantski, Brent Rocha and Amy Rocha to show them four pictures of Scott Peterson and Amber Frey, and to tell the Rocha family about a $250,000 life insurance policy Scott Peterson had taken out on Laci Peterson. Investigators are unable to contact Dennis Rocha to join the meeting. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department investigator Sgt. Bill Heyne is quoted by the Modesto Bee, making the following somewhat obvious statement: “The more time that goes by, the greater chance we have of not finding the victim alive, and the more time that goes by, if the victim is dead, the less chance we have of solving it.” In the article, he states that someone being killed by a stranger is an extremely difficult crime to solve because there is nothing linking the killer and the victim, but that such crimes are rare. “In 85 percent of all homicides, the victim is killed by someone she is close to,” he says in the article. He goes on in the report to state that someone holding a victim against his will is an unlikely scenario in the Modesto area—one that “happens once or twice a decade, maybe.” At 11:20 a.m., Kirk McAllister calls Scott Peterson’s cell phone. The call is monitored by Jesse Tovar as agent Bill Pooley supervises. Tovar minimizes the call, then spot-checks twice. He will later say that he heard nothing of substance in the conversation between the two men. The names of Amber Frey and Lee Peterson are crossed out of wiretap instructions issued by Rick Distaso. The amendment is made with a black ballpoint pen and is apparently signed by Distaso. Amber Frey meets Brenda McGehee for lunch. Det. Craig Grogan and Det. Phil Owen meet Lee Peterson at a coffee shop in San Diego to break the news to him about Scott Peterson’s affair with Amber Frey. Lee Peterson says that the affair is “not a good thing” but understandable. “That sure isn’t proof that my son was involved in this thing,” he tells them. He also suggests that keeping the affair a secret from investigators is simply human nature. “If I was under the investigation and my wife disappeared, I don’t think I’d be talkin’ about an affair I had with some other woman,” he tells them. “I doubt either of you fellows would, either.” According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak four times by phone. At 9:47 p.m., Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak by telephone. She is with Ayiana Frey. He says he is at the Tradecorp Warehouse, getting ready for a big shipment to Britz Fertilizer in Fresno.
January 16 The volunteer command center at the Red Lion Hotel does not open in the morning as scheduled; for the first time since its inception on December 26, 2002, the doors remain closed. “Obviously, it was hard to close it down,” says an anonymous friend of Laci Peterson’s. “Everybody’s numb right now.” Concerning Scott Peterson, the friend states, “It’s hard to hear that he is not the person we all thought he was.” According to some accounts, Scott Peterson shows up at the volunteer command center in the morning and appears shocked when told to leave by Rocha family members. Brad Saltzman, general manager of the Red Lion Hotel, announces that plans for an awareness-generating event in Los Angeles on January 19 have been scrapped as intense media coverage made the center unnecessary. “We accomplished our goals in Modesto. The same thing has certainly happened here in Los Angeles in the last 24 hours,” Saltzman says. “When I landed at LAX, every network station was there.” In a phone call with a confrontational Brent Rocha, Scott Peterson admits being unfaithful to Laci Peterson. He breaks his silence with a few brief comments to a pair of television reporters. He speaks briefly with Gloria Gomez of KOVR. As he heads south from Modesto to the Los Angeles area, he calls KNTV’s Jodi Hernandez from his car and tells her that he does not care if he is subjected to scrutiny as part of the investigation, as long as it works to bring his wife back home. “Make me the biggest villain in the world if you want to,” he says. “As long as it keeps her photo in the press.” He does not return calls from the Modesto Bee. The National Enquirer prints news of his affair and the life insurance policy. An anonymous member of the Rocha family tells a reporter from the Modesto Bee about the revelations from the Modesto Police Department, stating the family was told because the story was going to break in the National Enquirer the following day. Concerning Laci Peterson, the family member speculates, “I don’t think she ever saw it coming. As to exactly what happened to her, I don’t really know.” The family member also tells the reporter that Scott Peterson is refusing to take a lie detector test: “If he’s innocent, fine—then take a lie detector test. At first, he told us he was willing to, but then he said he talked to his parents and they told him not to.” Scott Peterson’s sudden willingness to talk to the media is interpreted by a member of the Rocha family as self-serving: “All of a sudden, Scott is talking to the media. He is realizing people are finding out about the girlfriend, so he’d better go out there and do some damage control.” The family member characterized Scott Peterson as materialistic: “He’s a cold and calculating type of guy. This is a guy who has to have all the nice stuff. He wanted his Del Rio membership.” Officials from the Modesto Police Department refuse to comment on the meeting with the Rocha family or about the current state of the investigation. “We’re not going to confirm or deny anything,” Roy Wasden says, but then goes on to state that about 200 registered sex offenders, parolees and mentally ill homeless persons, as well as many of Laci Peterson’s friends and family members, have been eliminated as suspects. According to a later statement by Jackie Peterson, the Peterson family hires noted psychic Noreen Renier in an attempt to determine the location of Laci Peterson.
January 17 During a day of fast-breaking developments, the focus of the case turns toward Scott Peterson. The Modesto Bee runs a story saying investigators told the Rocha family that Scott Peterson was having an affair and that he had taken out a $250,000 insurance policy on her. According to the article, the family was allegedly shown pictures of Scott Peterson with another woman. With the story still evolving, he calls Ted Rowlands and tells him the Modesto Bee story is a “bunch of lies” and denies that he had anything to do with his wife’s disappearance. “I’m going to come back to Modesto and open my own volunteer center and find my wife and my kid.” Det. Al Brocchini calls Mike Richardson at 6:40 a.m., asking him if he had seen the news about Scott Peterson’s affair with Amber Frey in the Modesto Bee, telling him the article was available online, and encouraging him or Heather Richardson to call Sharon Rocha for further information. Later in the day, Brocchini calls Mike Richardson again to ask if he had read the story, encouraging him to question Scott Peterson about Laci Peterson’s disappearance. At 4:00 p.m., the Rocha family, through spokesperson Kim Petersen, confirms that they have seen the pictures of Scott Peterson with a girlfriend, and asks him to cooperate with the police. Petersen states that the Rocha family is upset and announces that the volunteer center at the Red Lion Hotel will be shut down for good. “Due to recent developments and the incredible media attention, we felt the volunteers would not be able to get any work done if the volunteer center was left open,” Kim Petersen says, reading a prepared statement. She asks that the public give the family some quiet time to regroup. “Approximately two weeks ago, Ron Grantski, Laci’s stepfather, asked Scott if he had a girlfriend,” Petersen says. “Scott told him ‘no’ and Ron believed him. Now, however, they believe he has lied to them about this and possibly other things as well.” Petersen relates the current united stand of the Rocha family regarding Scott Peterson and the search for Laci Peterson: “If Scott has nothing to hide, they ask that he prove it. He has continually allowed family members and friends to support him personally as well as on television. They ask that all of you continue to search for Laci and appeal to farmers and those who live in rural areas to search their fields and barns, as well as hunters, fishermen and Realtors showing empty homes.” The Modesto Police Department reaffirms they will be having no more news conferences until and unless there is something major to report. Signs saying the volunteer command center has closed are posted on the doors at the Red Lion Hotel. Meanwhile, investigators continue to search for Laci Peterson, using sonar to explore the San Luis Reservoir—a site Scott Peterson visited eight days earlier. Diane Jackson is hypnotized by Dale Pennington. Wray Ladine discusses the phone tapping with prosecutors and Steve Jacobson, expressing concern that some of the techniques used in the wiretaps were “inappropriate” and “could cause problems.” Specifically, Ladine points out that Scott Peterson has retained counsel and has already expressed to Modesto Police Department investigators that he does not wish to make any statements. Ladine instructs investigators to halt spot checks of calls between Scott Peterson and Kirk McAllister. Amber Frey makes two calls to two different phones of Scott Peterson’s; according to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak five times by phone. She also calls Det. Jon Buehler seven times. Buehler writes a report in which he states, “At this stage of the investigation, we don’t find any information that would suggest involvement by Amber.” At 5:16 p.m., Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey, returning a call from a message she had just left. She tells him she has seen on television that reports of him having a girlfriend are out. She tells him that she has not been contacted by the media, but that she was called by Det. Jon Buehler, who was asking for her alibi during the time of Laci Peterson’s disappearance. When Scott Peterson says, “I hope you’re not bothered anymore by any of this,” she lashes out. “You can hope? You can hope for a lot of things. I mean, you can hope for your Laci to return, you can hope that I’m not bothered, you can hope that the news coverage only focuses on her—you can hope all these things, Scott, but the fact is, truth prevails.” She tells him she thinks he had a plan to keep her under wraps, but did not count on the media storm that surrounded Laci Peterson’s disappearance. “You know where it went wrong for you, Scott, in this plan, is you didn’t think the media would be so big and I’d ever learn of this,” she states.
January 18 According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak once by phone. Jacobson defends more wiretaps, writing, “We believe these telephone conversations, if intercepted, will show Scott Peterson‘s further involvement and, possibly, the involvement of Amber Frey in Laci Peterson‘s disappearance.” In yet another bizarre twist in the case, the Modesto Bee carries a story that suggests there may be a link between Scott Peterson and the disappearance of Kristin Smart—both were students at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo at the time of her disappearance in 1996. According to the story, San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department Lt. Steve Bolts states, “We are looking at his class schedules to determine if they crossed paths at all,” adding that their department has been discussing the case with the Modesto Police Department. Bolts is quoted as saying, “Scott Peterson’s name has not been directly related as a witness or a student who gave any positive response,” meaning he did not return a letter sent to hundreds of students. The article references an interview with Bolts for the information that Scott Peterson was not on a list of people at whom investigators wanted to take a closer look. In an exclusive interview with KTVU’s Ted Rowlands, Scott Peterson calls the report “ridiculous.” Later in the day, Patrick Hedges issues a statement that Scott Peterson is not being looked at in the case: “After consulting with investigators working on the Laci Peterson case, we have determined there is no basis to shift the focus of investigation in the Smart case.” Meanwhile, Jackie Peterson tells the San Francisco Chronicle that the allegations about her son are all hearsay and innuendo. “There is no way on God’s earth Scott had anything to do with her disappearance,” she states. “I don’t believe the police anymore, and I don’t believe the media.” She then calls Brad Saltzman and tells him that Scott Peterson wants to move forward with the search effort in the Los Angeles area despite the intense media scrutiny. Saltzman, who earlier in the week had said that the Los Angeles event had been scuttled, now throws his support behind it, but begins to distance himself. “Going down here was Scott’s decision,” Saltzman says. “We’ve blanketed the Northern California area with fliers, but we haven’t done anything in Southern California.” The Fox News program Fox Wire features interviews with Saltzman and Lee Peterson. Saltzman tells Rita Cosby that he has arranged to use the DoubleTree Hotel in Westwood as a command center for the search. The Los Angeles event is called into question by Dennis Rocha, who states, “I don’t see why they need to open it for one day down there…I don’t know what the purpose would be. It’s 360 miles from here.” America’s Most Wanted, with a segment devoted to the Laci Peterson case, is preempted for reasons unrelated to the case. An article in the Modesto Bee states that an investigator working for Kirk McAllister—presumably Gary Ermoian or Bill Pavelic—has interviewed residents of the La Loma neighborhood during the past week in relation to a van reportedly seen in the neighborhood about the time Laci Peterson disappeared. The article reports that Roy Wasden has said that detectives believe the van belonged to a landscaping crew. The Modesto Bee also reports that an anonymous member of the Rocha family believes that whatever happened to Laci Peterson could have happened as early as the evening of December 23, 2002, citing as evidence that she opened the window treatments of her home every morning, but did not on December 24, 2002. “I don’t think she made it through that night,” the family member is quoted as saying. “If she was alive that morning, she would have opened up her drapes. I know that’s something minor, but maybe it was overlooked.” The week turns out to be the busiest week yet for tips, with the Modesto Police Department receiving approximately 1,400 leads. Scott Peterson has dinner with friends Mike and Heather Richardson and spends the night at their home. They ask him if he wants to talk about the situation. He tells them that he does not, and they leave it at that. After dinner, he spends time playing with their children and, according to the Richardsons, seems relaxed and happy. “It was uncomfortable at first,” Heather Richardson will later say. “There are a lot of questions, but until anything is proven otherwise, he will still be our friend.” According to the National Enquirer, although he is away from home, Scott Peterson calls Dish Network to order several XXX-rated channels added to his service.
January 19 As Scott Peterson is away from his Modesto residence, Kim McGregor reportedly breaks into the home (according to Det. Al Brocchini, this event takes place sometime between January 16 and January 19, 2003), using a coffee mug to shatter a window. According to her, she makes herself a Jack Daniel’s and Coca-Cola. According to an article in the Globe, she takes Laci Peterson’s wedding dress and some other items, becomes intoxicated, and takes McKenzie for a walk during the wee hours of the morning. According to a November 11, 2003, report by Ted Rowlands, Kim McGregor takes a video camera, Christmas presents, photographs and several of Laci Peterson’s sweaters, and also drapes herself in Laci Peterson’s wedding dress and lies on Laci Peterson’s bed. According to a report by Rita Cosby, Kim McGregor actually puts on Laci Peterson’s wedding dress and rolls around on Scott and Laci Peterson’s bed. According to Det. Al Brocchini’s trial testimony, Kim McGregor takes at least eight items of clothing, including men’s jackets, and opens two Christmas presents. She also takes a pair of men’s underwear and Laci Peterson’s Social Security card. According to Brocchini, McGregor also makes a phone call and rifles through drawers and closets. Amie Krigbaum sees McGregor going in through a gate and later coming out with a bundle, which she loads into a white Honda. According to Krigbaum, McGregor walks the dog around in the front yard, and other people arrive at the home but do not enter it. Krigbaum calls the Modesto Police Department at 1:53 a.m. McGregor dumps the jackets in an alley a few miles away. She disposes a video camera in a grease barrel. Despite the rumors and setbacks, Scott Peterson spearheads a 1-day effort to get missing-person fliers posted in Los Angeles. His mother, father, two brothers and several other relatives join him, but conspicuous by their absence are all members of the Rocha family. Contacted by the media, Brent Rocha declines comment on the Los Angeles event or the case. Det. Doug Ridenour states, “There’s nothing connected with our investigation in LA.” In contrast, Janey Peterson reads a prepared statement affirming the Peterson family’s support for their beleaguered relative: “Scott has our absolute and complete support, and we do not believe any speculation that he was involved in Laci’s disappearance.” Scott Peterson arrives at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westwood and enters without taking reporters’ questions. Brad Saltzman tells the Oakland Tribune that Scott Peterson is not deterred by recent negative publicity about his alleged affair. “He’s willing to take the heat if it keeps Laci’s picture in the media,” Saltzman says, echoing Scott Peterson’s earlier statement to Jodi Hernandez. Saltzman explains that Scott Peterson wanted to bring the search to Southern California because he thinks his wife may have been abducted in a car and could be in the area. Although some reports state that only about three dozen volunteers show up the entire day, Saltzman labels the event a success, claiming that, eventually, approximately 2,000 fliers and 400 posters are distributed to about 240 volunteers for posting in the area. “If you go to Modesto, you see in every store, every corner, there’s posters for her everywhere. We’ve been working on that for 26 days. We simply have to expand the geographical area,” Scott Peterson says. “So we’ll do it here, we’ll do it in San Diego next weekend, and we’ll continue to expand until we find her.” Janey Peterson later comments on the support the family received in Los Angeles: “I think a lot of people have been touched by this. A lot of people have just felt a burden to pray for the family, and to show us support and stand behind us.” According to Det. Doug Ridenour, Scott Peterson returns from Los Angeles in the evening and reports the break-in at his home to police at 7:46 p.m. Ridenour calls the break-in “bizarre,” noting that nothing “of value” was taken from the residence, but discounting any link to Laci Peterson’s disappearance. “It wasn’t that much stuff,” he says. Later, the Modesto Police Department issues a formal statement that reads: “Police are not revealing the details of the burglary or what was taken.” Eddie Gibson finds Scott and Laci Peterson’s video camera in a 50-gallon grease barrel in an alley near Fast Eddie’s MOAB. He later turns it over to Ridenour. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak four times by phone.
January 20 Scott Peterson does not provide comment to reporters about the break-in at his home, but takes a morning jog and then changes the padlock on the gate outside his home. The Modesto Police Department continues to be tight-lipped about the break-in, but states a window was broken in the home to gain entry. “We are currently investigating this break-in and we are not prepared to release much information,” says Sgt. Michael Zahr. “Detectives are working on leads that may solve this case soon, and we don’t want to interfere in identifying the suspects.” Police officials state they received 200 calls to the tips line over the weekend, bringing the total to more than 3,000. “They are still coming in, but they aren’t coming in like they used to,” Doug Ridenour says. Ridenour states that there has been a similar decline in the number of officers working on the Laci Peterson case—down to about 40 from a high of more than 100 in the first few days. “There are fewer officers because they have finished following leads and can get back to their regular duties,” he says, adding that most of the Investigations Division is still working on the case. Det. Phil Owen, Sgt. Ron Cloward, Mark Larry and Greg Lattice meet at Richmond Harbor Master Pier and head out to Richmond Turning Basin Buoy Number 6, from which they take paint samples. Det. Al Brocchini interviews Kim McGregor. Meanwhile, Brad Saltzman receives criticism for allowing his hotel to be used for a volunteer effort headed by Scott Peterson. At least a dozen people call the DoubleTree Hotel in Westwood and threaten to boycott it, saying the hotel is “supporting a murderer.” Joe Titizian defends the role of the hotel and proclaims neutrality in the escalating Rocha-Peterson feud. “The event took place with the blessings of both families,” he says. “The hotel stands behind both families and is not taking sides.” The last remaining items are removed from the now-closed Red Lion Hotel volunteer command center. Janey Peterson continues to be Scott Peterson’s strongest advocate in the media, speaking about the family’s continuing support for him to NBC’s Matt Lauer on Today and making an appearance on Good Morning America. On Today, she urges viewers to ignore the issue of Scott Peterson’s reported affairs and keep looking for her missing sister-in-law. “I think that we’ve just learned over this entire process, we just need to remain and keep our focus on bringing Laci home and return the baby.” She says that search efforts should key on “any circumstances that could surround delivering a baby.” Asked by Lauer whether the Peterson family had confronted Scott Peterson about the rumors, she says that they have not. “I feel my role is to support him and love him and be there for him,” she explains. Asked about the mood of her brother-in-law, she replies, “As each day goes by, it does make it harder and harder not to react to all these things that are said and these things that come up, but I think Scott has shown that he’s very focused in his commitment to bring his wife and baby home.” On Good Morning America, she states, “We have just tried to remain and keep our focus on praying for Laci’s safe return, and doing everything we can to make sure people are watching for her. As her due date approaches, we need to expand our efforts and keep looking.” During the same appearance, she rejects the notion that there is now a split between the Peterson family and the Rocha family and denies having any proof of Scott Peterson’s infidelity. “We have no knowledge of that,” she claims. “We haven’t seen the pictures, and both our family and Laci’s family have not wavered from our stance that Scott had nothing to do with Laci’s disappearance, so we need to keep our focus on looking for her and bringing her home.” She explains that, since the Rocha family’s news conference of January 17, 2003, the two families have communicated with each other and, in her opinion, agreed they share a common goal: “The families have spoken, and I think we both still have the same goal of continuing our search for Laci and bringing her home.” She pushes the idea that Laci Peterson is being held captive and that the impending due date of Conner Peterson could lead to a break in the case, but says that citizens must be alert for clues: “Anything like a person with a baby that wasn’t pregnant, or anyone that might call a nurse hotline for delivery instructions—anything like that, that is out of the ordinary.” At about 10:10 p.m., Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey to discuss his hiring of a private investigator, telling her that he knows the National Enquirer has hired a private investigator because that investigator told him that he was already approached by the tabloid to work for them. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak three times by phone.
January 21 Kim Petersen tells reporters, in so many words, to leave the Rocha family alone: “All media requests must come through me first, and I’m not granting media requests at the moment.” Det. Craig Grogan interviews Rose Rocha. Mornings on 2 features an interview with former FBI profiler Candice DeLong wherein she states that she finds very troubling how Scott Peterson appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America fairly early in the case and spoke of his missing wife and baby in the past tense. She publicly questions Scott Peterson’s motives for expanding the search area and questions whether he may be planning to flee to Mexico. Eric Van Innis visits Scott Peterson at his home and tells the media that the company supports him “100 percent.” Van Innis tells reporters, “He has the spirit of a guy who is going through a difficult situation. He’s doing his best.” KPIX reports that Scott Peterson, in a conversation last weekend, was bluntly asked by Brent Rocha, “Where’s my sister?” The report states that, during the conversation, Brent Rocha pressed Scott Peterson for information, after which he confirmed that he had been unfaithful to Laci Peterson. When asked on-camera about the conversation, Brent Rocha refuses to reveal details. Dennis Rocha talks to the Modesto Bee for an article that will run the following day. Scott Peterson tells a Fresno Bee reporter that he is actively seeking a place to open a new, more permanent command center to replace the one his in-laws closed on January 17, 2003. “We still have volunteers who are searching for her,” he says. “Currently we’re working on finding a facility for it. When we have something, we will let everyone know.” John Toshida, speaking from the California Department of Justice’s Central Valley Crime Lab in Ripon, confirms to a KTVU reporter that some biological evidence related to the case had been tested and the results given to investigators, but—not surprisingly—he declines to comment on specifics. He adds that more evidence is being submitted, and that the lab changes their focus depending on the investigation: “As the case changes, we change our priorities.” He also states that, due to advances in forensic science, it is easier than it used to be to get a conviction in cases where a body cannot be recovered. According to Eddie Gibson, he is visited by Det. Doug Ridenour, who collects the video camera Gibson recovered from a grease barrel two days earlier. Gibson later comments that Ridenour simply “put the camera and tape in a plastic bag and left.” The story about the camera does not break until more than a year later, on March 15, 2004. Scott Peterson and Eric Van Innis socialize in the lounge at the Red Lion Inn.
January 22 Ted Rowlands meets with Scott Peterson after his morning jog with McKenzie and is told by him that he had absolutely nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance. He states that he cannot understand why the Rocha family is calling on him to be more cooperative with police. He categorically denies not fully cooperating with everything the Modesto Police Department has asked him to do. The Modesto Police Department reports that a suspect has been identified in the burglary of Scott and Laci Peterson’s home, stating that the suspect is someone known to the couple—someone who had access to their home, with their permission. However, police spokespersons decline to identify the suspect or make an arrest, noting that the suspect cooperated with investigators and the stolen property was returned. According to Dan Abrams, Scott Peterson speaks to a real estate agent about selling his home with all the furniture included, but asks that his inquiry be kept secret. Three search warrants are sealed by Stanislaus County Superior Court: one for Scott Peterson’s person, one for an unspecified vehicle used by him, and one for his phone records. Jackie Peterson is interviewed by Dan Abrams on MSNBC’s The Abrams Report. She steadfastly defends her embattled son against his critics. A Modesto Police Department spokesperson confirms to KTVU that the number of investigators on the case has fallen to about 40, echoing the statements of two days before. Eric Van Innis stays at the Red Lion Hotel, where he and Scott Peterson spend time in the hotel lounge, reportedly laughing and having a good time. At this point, Scott Peterson plans to take the search to San Diego the following weekend. Kathy Rocha states that the Rocha family feels betrayed after revelations of Scott Peterson’s affair with Amber Frey. Members of the Rocha family tape an interview for a segment of America’s Most Wanted. The Modesto Bee runs a human-interest story on the Laci Peterson case, profiling Dennis Rocha in an article titled, “A Tough Time to Be a Father.” In the article, he says he is living “every parent’s nightmare.” Concerning the revelation of Scott Peterson’s affair and what it may mean to the case, Dennis Rocha says, “He was questioned early on, and he said ‘no.’ Then it came out he had one. It showed he lied.” He goes on to say that the support of others is helping him cope. “It’s like therapy. I hear from strangers who say they are thinking of Laci and the family. I feel like I have hundreds of new brothers and sisters, and it’s comforting.” He states he has deliberately avoided the spotlight because he shows his emotions and is concerned that, by doing so, he may do something that harms the investigation or his family. According to the February 10, 2004, National Enquirer, Amber Frey takes and passes a polygraph examination. According to The Abrams Report, she is asked if she suspected anyone of causing Laci Peterson’s disappearance, and replies that she suspects Scott Peterson because of the things he had told her about being previously married. The Modesto Police Department receives a tip that Adam Tenbrink told his brother Shawn Tenbrink that Steven Todd had been interrupted by Laci Peterson while robbing a home in the La Loma neighborhood (according to some sources, this receipt occurs January 22, 2003). Det. Craig Grogan and other investigators sift through the case evidence and determine that there is a good probability that Laci Peterson’s body will be found in the San Francisco Bay.
January 23 When questioned by reporters at San Francisco International Airport, hotel manager Brad Saltzman offers reporters an unflattering view of Scott Peterson. Days earlier, Saltzman had helped organize a search center in Westwood. “It’s funny because last week a correspondent asked me if I had ever seen Scott cry,” he says. “I thought about it, and I’ve seen other family members cry, but I had never seen Scott cry. His demeanor was like it was empty, and he liked the attention from the media. I was able to take him the back way. I was able to take him up the service elevator, but he chose to go in front of the media and it was a media circus out there. That’s why I think his intentions weren’t to find Laci.” Scott Peterson takes Eric Van Innis on a sightseeing tour around San Francisco before dropping him off at San Francisco International Airport. The Modesto Bee runs a story profiling Scott Peterson, one of the first glimpses into his life outside of his marriage. The story contains quotes from his family members and from his friends Brian Argain, Guy Miligi and Mike and Heather Richardson. According to Jackie Peterson, Scott’s first love was fishing, even though he later became a star on his high school golf team. “When he was about 6 or 7 years old, we’d all go golfing together,” Jackie Peterson says in the story. “He would put his fishing pole in his bag because the course we often went to was on the San Diego River. By the second hole, he’d stop golfing and start fishing. We’d pass by him every so often, and he usually fished until we were done golfing.” According to the story, Scott Peterson eventually convinced his father to buy a fishing boat, but the family continued to encourage his participation in golf outings by letting him drive the cart. Eventually, Jackie Peterson relates, his golfing skills began to grow. “Lee told him once if he ever played a round of scratch golf, he’d buy him a Ferrari. Lee never thought it would happen, but Scott was doing that before he got out of high school. We did get him a car, but it was a used Peugeot sedan. We thought it would be safer.” The article also relates how Scott Peterson, with no living grandparents, “adopted” an elderly woman to be his grandmother, visiting her on Sundays after church. “One day, he told us he was bringing his grandmother to Grandparents Day at the school,” Jackie Peterson states in the story. “I asked where he got a grandmother. He told me he’d had one for a while. I went and met her the following Sunday. She just kept saying what a great kid he was, and how nice it was that he visited an old lady and brightened her day.” According to the article, while Scott Peterson was in high school, his parents received two letters from people whose cars had broken down on the road and received help from him. Jackie Peterson also tells the story of the first time she met her future daughter-in-law: “The moment he was with Laci, they just beamed at each other. No one else ever made my son smile like that.” According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak three times by phone.
January 24 According to Mark Geragos’ opening statement at Scott Peterson’s trial, the earliest date Conner Peterson could have died. KGPE television reporter Sontaya Rose discovers the location of Scott Peterson’s mistress and arrives with a camera crew at American Bodyworks to interview Amber Frey. Amber Frey hides in her work place until the Modesto Police Department arrives to take her to Modesto in the afternoon. At an emotional news conference beginning at 2:30 p.m., the Rocha family breaks a 1-week silence by saying that Scott Peterson has confirmed to them that he was having an affair. Amy Rocha approaches the podium first. “This past month has been the most painful time I’ve ever experienced,” she says without looking up. After just this one sentence, she becomes too emotional to continue. Brent Rocha steps forward and tells Scott Peterson he can no longer support him. He speaks directly to Laci Peterson. “Laci, the last month has been the most disturbing and emotional time of my life. Your disappearance has completely changed my life as I once knew it. I miss your beautiful smile and your fun-loving personality. We talked about our children growing up together, spending summers at each other’s house. Family events will be very lonely without you and Conner. Wherever you may be, I hope you know how much I love you and how important you are to me. My search for you will never end.” He then confirms Scott Peterson was unfaithful. “Scott Peterson did admit to me that he was having an affair with a Fresno woman,” he says. “I would like Scott to know that I trusted him and stood by him in the initial phases of my sister’s disappearance.” Brent Rocha then urges Scott Peterson to cooperate with investigators. “Scott has not been forthcoming with information regarding my sister’s disappearance, and I am only left to question what else he may be hiding,” he says. “Since Scott is no longer communicating with anyone in Laci’s family, and because we have so many questions that he has not answered, I am no longer supporting him.” Sharon Rocha tearfully begs for Laci Peterson’s return. “Since Christmas Eve, our one and only focus has been to find Laci and bring her home to us,” she says, choking back tears. “I love my daughter and miss her every minute of every day. I miss seeing her. I miss our talks together. I miss the excitement in her voice when she talks about her baby. Someone has taken all this away from me and everyone else who loved her. There are no words that could possibly describe the ache in my heart and the emptiness in my life.” Unlike Brent Rocha, Sharon Rocha does not name Scott Peterson directly. “I know that someone knows where Laci is,” she says. “I’m pleading with you to please, please let her come home. You can send an anonymous letter to the police department, or make an anonymous phone call.” The family refuses questions and exits the room in single file. The emotions have hardly settled down when another blockbuster rocks the case. At a news conference called by the Modesto Police Department, “the other woman” is made public. Det. Doug Ridenour introduces her with a brief statement. “First of all, I want to thank you for your patience,” he says. “We would like to preface the news conference by requesting that you respect our willingness to inform the media of limited information that does not compromise the investigation.” He tells the gathering that the woman is being formally introduced because she was already uncovered. “Today, because of extensive efforts by some members of the media, Amber Frey was identified and contacted by reporters at her place of business,” he explains. “She notified the Modesto Police Department about the contact. She is prepared to give a statement and she will not accept any questions.” Then, he calls Amber Frey, dressed in a white blouse and a black suit jacket with a yellow ribbon, to the podium. She can hardly hold back her tears. “First of all, I met him on November 20. When I was introduced, I was told he wasn’t married. Scott told me he wasn’t married. We had a romantic relationship. When I discovered he was involved in the Laci Peterson case, I immediately contacted the Modesto Police Department. Although I could have sold the photos of Scott and I to the tabloids, I didn’t want to jeopardize the investigation. I knew it was the right thing to do. I am very sorry for Laci’s family and the pain it has caused them. I pray for her safe return.” A Modesto Police Department spokesperson states they brought Amber Frey forward because the media had tracked her down, and since she had promised not to talk to the media, she contacted the police to ask what to do. Det. Ridenour states that she is cooperating with investigators and is not a suspect, asking the media not to try to contact her during the investigation. He says that the investigators have used “a variety of means” to verify what she said about her relationship with Peterson. Roy Wasden implores the media to leave Amber Frey alone, stating that the coverage is starting to do more harm than good. “Now, what this is starting to do is border on pretty close to being destructive,” he lectures. “We’re not going to discuss with you the in-depth part of this investigation.” He tells reporters, “We’ve given the information we feel we need to give, and we need to give that information so that a young woman who had the courage to come forward and give us information will not be harassed as she tries to go on with her life.” After giving her public statement, Amber Frey meets privately with the Rocha family, providing them details about her relationship with Scott Peterson. “You have a baby, don’t you?” Sharon Rocha asks. “I think mine are gone.” A group of Laci Peterson’s friends who had displayed very little emotion during Amber Frey’s speech leave the room as soon as she quits speaking. “It’s emotional for these girls to see her,” says Terri Western. “But they applauded her for coming forward with this information. This whole thing is absolutely the worst and most difficult thing any of them have ever had to deal with.” Members of the media try unsuccessfully to get a comment from Scott Peterson, who is in the San Diego area meeting with the Peterson family. They announce that an event planned there for January 25–26, 2003, will be delayed a week. KNBC reports that Scott Peterson canceled search efforts in San Diego, saying the Super Bowl and the media would have made the search ineffective. KNTV reports he is planning a prayer vigil in a San Diego church February 1, 2003. Janey Peterson appears on Connie Chung Tonight and downplays news of the affair, which she terms as peripheral to the task of locating Laci Peterson. “We don’t have the extra emotions and we don’t have the time to chase down all these peripheries,” she explains. “Trusting in the Lord is all that we have.” Despite the day’s revelations, she states she is still dedicated to her brother-in-law. “There is absolutely no way Scott had anything to do with Laci Peterson’s disappearance,” she confirms. A Modesto Police Department spokesperson states that the estimated total number of tips received to date is about 4,500. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak once by phone. Amber Frey spends the night at Lori Ellsworth’s home.
January 25 According to an article in a tabloid newspaper, and backed by transcripts of telephone conversations, the day Scott Peterson had previously told Amber Frey he would be returning from Europe. CNN reports that the official position of the Rocha family on Amber Frey is that they bear her no ill will and that they view her as another victim in the case. The Fox News program Fox Wire features an interview with Brad Saltzman. He reiterates his concerns about Scott Peterson to Rita Cosby, stating, “It seemed like he relished…enjoyed being in front of the camera, which I didn’t understand. But he also enjoyed shaking hands and having that on tape. And just…the smile that he gives…it wasn’t that of someone who’s missing his wife and baby boy. At this point I am very disappointed and I feel like I was certainly duped. I gave up a lot in Los Angeles to do this one-day volunteer effort at the request of him through his mother. But I don’t think his efforts were sincerely to find Laci.” Saltzman talks about how the press was trying to get Scott Peterson to answer questions—that even his parents were encouraging him to answer questions—but that he would not; instead, he only seemed to want to shake hands with people and put on a show for the press. Hadrian Lesser states on the same program that Scott Peterson was recognized by a guest in the hotel, who told the front desk that he was uncomfortable with Scott Peterson’s demeanor. Saltzman tells a representative from the web site http://www.lacipeterson.com that Scott Peterson never asked him for a room at the Red Lion Hotel to open a new, more permanent command center to replace the one his in-laws closed, as he suggested in a January 21, 2003, interview with the Fresno Bee. America’s Most Wanted airs a brief segment about the Laci Peterson case featuring the Rocha family and Det. Doug Ridenour. Kirk McAllister tells reporters that his client is “not going to talk to you, under my orders.” Scott Peterson speaks briefly with KTVU reporter Diane Guerrazzi. He also apologizes to investigators for hiding his involvement with Amber Frey. Modesto Bee reporter Brian VanderBeek visits the home of Lee and Jackie Peterson, only to be greeted by a sign on their door, which read, “We will not talk to anyone. My wife is ill; you are contributing to that. Please respect our privacy.” The notice asks reporters to direct questions to Steve Howard. Howard, when reached by phone, states that he expects the Peterson family to issue a statement “imminently,” but later in the day, retracts that prediction, saying that no statement will be issued and that “the drawbridge is drawn up.” VanderBeek notes a springer spaniel in the back yard and spends his time interviewing neighbors. The Modesto Bee runs an article concerning Laci Peterson’s gift registry at the online store of Babies “R” Us. Louis Galvan of the Fresno Bee interviews Ron Frey. Concerning his daughter’s relationship with Scott Peterson, he says, “She really thought he was a truly fine person. She had no clue in the world that he was married. She was proud to be with him.” Ron Frey declines to comment on the number of times his daughter had met Scott Peterson, but reveals that he had held her 1-year-old daughter. Ron Frey says that the publicity surrounding the case has prevented his daughter from going to work and caused her to leave her home to stay with friends. “Right now she just wants everything to go away. How do you make this go away?” According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak five times by phone. According to a report in the National Enquirer, Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey to say he understands why she came forward and to ask her how much it might cost to buy photos of him and her from her friend, presumably Saki Vincent. Scott Peterson and Amber Frey exchange at least three calls, one beginning at 3:23 p.m., during which he tells her he understands why she went public. Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey at 4:15 p.m. He tells her how brave she was to do the news conference the day before. He calls her again at 6:28 p.m. She tells him the media has “staked out” relatives’ homes, but that she has made herself “invisible” for the moment by staying with a friend. She says she was hounded by CBS representatives, who offered to fly her to New York and put her up in a 5-star hotel. They discuss various television programs that are covering the Laci Peterson case.
January 26 The web site http://www.lacipeterson.com calculates that more than 1,000 messages have been processed through its leads, tips and suggestions form, and that the site has averaged 83,000 visitors a day for the past 10 days. The Modesto Bee runs a story featuring the previous day’s interview with Ron Frey that is largely a defense of his daughter against Scott Peterson and the world. “I keep telling her she didn’t do anything wrong,” Ron Frey states. “He not only fooled her, but he fooled the nation for a month. She’s single, she met someone she liked, and she really thought he was the real thing.” He characterizes his daughter as a “victim of someone she trusted” who now feels “embarrassed and shattered.” In the article, Ron Frey states Scott Peterson told Amber Frey that he traveled all over the country for his job, and that it was not unusual for him to be gone from home for up to 30 days at a time. According to Ron Frey’s account, Scott Peterson told Amber Frey he could not be with her over Christmas because he was going to Paris—a revelation that was hurtful to Amber Frey. In the days that follow, Ron Frey speaks to Larry King, Connie Chung, Geraldo Rivera and representatives from Dr. Phil, Inside Edition and others, but declines interviews, stating, “I’m not a media person, I’m a dad.” In the same article, the Modesto Bee mentions that a makeshift memorial to Laci Peterson has grown around an entrance to Kewin Park. According to the story, candles, stuffed animals and messages of hope surround one of the large missing-person posters. The story quotes one message from “Tanya”: “God bless you, Laci and baby. I don’t know you, but your story touched my heart deeply.” John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted travels to Modesto to tape his other program, The John Walsh Show, but fails to secure an interview with Scott Peterson or any member of the Peterson family. Instead, he tapes in front of Scott and Laci Peterson’s home and interviews Sgt. Al Carter, Sharon Rocha, Amy Rocha, Dennis Rocha, Ron Grantski and four of Laci Peterson’s closest friends: Stacey Boyers, René Tomlinson, Renee Garza and Lori Ellsworth. Det. Doug Ridenour tells why investigators determined right away that Laci Peterson did not leave her home voluntarily: “Most all of her belongings were still at the house—her cell phone and those types of things that she would have probably taken with her if she had intentionally left.” Scott Peterson and Kirk McAllister share a 29-second call that is notable by the fact that it will be the only privileged call among 176 wiretapped recordings temporarily “lost” in the audio buffers of the wiretap system. Scott Peterson takes the Land Rover to the Berkeley Marina, circling around before driving south to Sunnyvale.
January 27 As he is leaving his home, Scott Peterson tells a KCRA reporter it is a good thing that Amber Frey came forward: “It gets things in the open.” He adds that he wasn’t planning on speaking with reporters about the case any time in the near future, but would meet with his family to make that decision. When asked if he meant the Peterson family or the Rocha family, he replies, “Everyone.” Reportedly, Scott Peterson is approached by investigators for questioning, but tells them he is invoking his Fifth Amendment right. According to the March 8, 2004, National Enquirer, he rents storage locker #679 at Security Public Storage. He takes a Dodge pickup to the San Francisco Bay area, arriving at about 3:00 p.m. He drives along a frontage road just north of the Berkeley Marina, then circles back before driving to the San Francisco International Airport, arriving at about 9:14 p.m. He takes a plane to Los Angeles, where he begins a barrage of media interviews by taping a 90-minute interview for Good Morning America. During the session with Diane Sawyer, he wears a tan suit with a big lapel button featuring a photograph of Laci Peterson. He states he told members of the Modesto Police Department that he was having an affair, which he called “inappropriate.” In a statement that many will call into question, he also says he told Laci Peterson about the affair. He stresses that the revelation, although “not a positive,” did not rupture his marriage, saying that “it wasn’t anything that would break us apart.” He states that his wife expressed unhappiness about the affair, “but it was not something we weren’t dealing with.” In fact, he says, the affair was something Laci had “peace” with it. He claims that the affair was his first and only, a statement that will later be called into question. He said there was not a lot of anger and no physical altercations in the marriage. “Violence towards women is unapproachable,” he contends in somewhat awkward wording. “It is the most disgusting act, to me.” He says he is not ready to accept that Laci Peterson is dead, but that the thought is sometimes difficult to escape. “It creeps into my mind late at night and early in the morning,” he confesses. “And during the day, all I can think about is the right resolution to find her.” He says that he continues to talk walks in East La Loma Park, an activity he characterized as a special time with his wife, but adds that his grief overcomes him. “I can’t get very far,” he says. “I certainly can’t make it to the part of the park where there’s a big poster of her up.” During the interview, Scott Peterson says he never loved Amber Frey and can’t even explain why he pursued a relationship with her. “That’s a question you should have an answer to, definitely—and I don’t know,” he tells Sawyer in what Michael Fleeman will later call a “train wreck of an interview.” Asked by Sawyer to describe his marriage, he replies, “Glorious. I mean, we took care of each other very well. She was amazing—is amazing.” He does stop Sawyer at one point. “Can’t go in there,” he warns concerning Conner Peterson’s nursery. “That door is closed until there is someone to put in there.” He sums up his marriage in one sentence: “No one knows our relationship but us.” Scott Peterson also uses the interview to explain blood found in his truck, although no official forensic results had been announced. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak three times by phone.
January 28 The first part of Scott Peterson’s interview with Diane Sawyer airs on Good Morning America. It is taped by Modesto Police Department investigators and officials at the Stanislaus County Office of the District Attorney. Laci Peterson’s friends react with collective disbelief at Scott Peterson’s statement that he told his wife in early December about his affair with Amber Frey and that she had “made peace” with it. “I can’t say how she would have reacted,” Stacey Boyers tells KTVU. “I do know she wouldn’t have been at peace with it. It would have been an issue. As close of friends as we have, she would have told one of us.” Amber Frey calls Lori Ellsworth for a conversation that lasts 90 minutes. Ron Grantski states to a Modesto Bee reporter concerning the interview: “It’s nice to see him talking. Now he needs to talk to the police.” Concerning Scott Peterson’s claim that his wife knew about Amber Frey, Grantski also expressed disbelief: “The Laci we know would have said something to us about it. He’s lied before, and this could all be a lie as well. It’s his word against Laci’s, and she’s not here to defend herself.” Ron Frey declines to pass judgment on his daughter’s former lover, but also conspicuously does not refer to him by name: “I don’t know the person. I have no clue if what he said is true. I’m just glad the man did not say bad things about Amber. The man did say he didn’t love her. I can accept that.” He states that he is in constant contact with his daughter, who is still in hiding: “She wants to thank everybody for all their support,” he says. Scott Peterson arrives home in the afternoon, declining a phone request to talk to a reporter for the Modesto Bee. “I don’t think I want to be interviewed. Maybe some other time.” Amber Frey calls Scott Peterson’s cell phone for a conversation that lasts 23 minutes, then calls him in the evening for a conversation that lasts 52 minutes. Scott Peterson calls Amber Frey at 7:33 p.m. and tells her he loves her and wants to spend his life with her. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak four times by phone. He calls her at 2:38 p.m. She says it bothered her when, in a television interview, he said he was not in love with her. “I thought that might bother you,” he says.
January 29 KTVU’s Ted Rowlands goes to the home of Scott and Laci Peterson, where Scott Peterson again emphasizes that he had nothing to do with the disappearance of his wife. For most of the interview, he speaks in a low monotone, but becomes emotional when speaking about Conner’s nursery. The second part of Scott Peterson’s interview with Diane Sawyer airs on Good Morning America. The program also features Lee Peterson, Jackie Peterson, Joe Peterson, Janey Peterson and Susan Caudillo. During this interview, Scott Peterson states that he had bought his wife a Louis Vuitton wallet as a Christmas gift and he calls his marriage “glorious”: “We took care of each other very well. She was amazing. She is amazing.” He also responds to questions about a neighbor’s statement that on the morning of December 24, 2002, the drapes of his home were, contrary to Laci Peterson’s common practice, closed (“during the winter we don’t open up the curtains”) and what he was putting into his truck (“those umbrellas in the stands that are about 8 feet in diameter, for when it’s raining…to the warehouse”). He explains that he and his wife took out $250,000 whole life insurance policies on each other about the time they purchased their home, contradicting reports that the policy he took out on Laci Peterson was purchased in the summer of 2002. He offers Diane Sawyer his scraped knuckles as an explanation for any of his blood that may be found in the vehicles seized by police. After announcing for the first time the Peterson family’s private tip line number, Diane Sawyer drops a bomb on Scott Peterson’s story, stating that Modesto Police Department officials dispute his statement that he told them about his relationship with Amber Frey: “They say they learned about it December 30. Not from Scott Peterson but from the young woman who came forward.” Laci Peterson’s family issues a “no comment” comment through the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation in response to the interview: “We are not going to make any comments on his appearance. We would just like him to continue to speak with the police.” Scott Peterson speaks with several news outlets, including another interview with Jodi Hernandez. He returns from Los Angeles via San Francisco International Airport, where he is asked by one reporter, “Why did you murder your wife?” He meets with Roger Content at Roberts Auto Sales and trades in the Land Rover Discovery SE in trade on a 2002 Dodge Dakota. At 2:04 p.m., Scott Peterson speaks with Jackie Peterson, who asks him if he wants her to pay for his detective, Gary Ermoian. Scott Peterson affirms that he does, and tells her to make the check out to Kirk McAllister. Shortly, afterward, Ermoian calls Scott Peterson to warn him about the media storm brewing on Covena Avenue. As word spreads about his new openness, local media representatives begin arriving at his residence. Included among these are Ken Chiampou and John Kobylt from Los Angeles radio station KFI, who repeatedly badger Scott Peterson via a bullhorn, accusing him of killing Laci Peterson and offering him $64,000 to take a polygraph examination. “Nobody believes your story,” one them calls out. These two “shock jocks” end up in a war of words with Lyanne Melendez, a reporter with San Francisco radio station KGO. Melendez tells the radio personalities that their methods are “bad journalism,” to which they respond, “We’re not journalists—we’re entertainers.” By 5:00 p.m., more than a dozen television news trucks set up camp outside Scott Peterson’s residence. He tells Gloria Gomez why he told his wife about his affair: “It was the right thing to do. And, as you know, when you’re not doing the right thing, it eats you up. You know, you feel sick to your stomach and you can’t function. And you have a hard time, you know, looking at someone.” Eventually, he calls the police when reporters follow him to his back gate and remain on the property after he asks them to leave. Modesto Police Department officers Billy Hamilton and G.E. Paglione arrive, stay for about 10 minutes, but leave without making an arrest. Conspicuous by their absence from any report is the Modesto Bee—Scott Peterson declines an interview request, citing he was upset with two articles the newspaper had published, including the one that said he was laughing and smiling at the December 31, 2002, vigil. “With the feelings I have about the newspaper right now, I am not interested in talking. The articles need to have more with Laci in them and not be focused on me.” The Modesto Bee runs a story stating that most homicide victims are known by their killer. In the article, Jeanette Sereno states, “Typically, pregnant women don’t participate in risky activities such as hiking, mountain climbing or drinking in bars. They are eating well and seeing their doctors, so their deaths normally would be something out of their control.” Also in the article, she cautions that Scott Peterson being a person of interest in the case does not make him a defendant. Reportedly, Scott Peterson sells the Land Rover that was Laci Peterson’s primary vehicle—the beginning of a story that will break five days later. In a taped telephone conversation, Det. Craig Grogan pleads with Scott Peterson to confess: “If you want to end all this nonsense, all you need to do is call me, all right?”
January 30 The John Walsh Show featuring the Laci Peterson case airs. KTVU’s Mornings on 2 program carries Ted Rowland’s interview with Scott Peterson. In the interview, he repeats and expands on some of his earlier statements: the affair was “inappropriate,” he is glad Amber Frey came forward, he had told his wife about the affair in early December, and he told Amber he was married shortly after his wife’s disappearance—before she contacted law enforcement officials. He states that his cooperation with local police has been “complete” but declines to answer whether or not he has submitted to a polygraph test because an answer would be “within the scope that the investigators asked me not to speak about.” He is generally complimentary of the Modesto Police Department; however, he states that he thinks looking for a body is a “waste of manpower,” but that it makes him “sad more than it does angry.” Returning to the subject of the umbrellas, Scott states: “It started to rain, and I was taking them to storage” wrapped in a blue tarp, a slightly different take than his explanation of the previous day. Even though he says it means “stepping past…the rules we set up about not talking about the investigation,” he explains that brick work and cement work is “a real common thing around here.” Marc Klaas, a nationally recognized advocate for children, is in the studio and listens to the interview, but does not accept the explanations being offered: “Obviously this guy is stacking lie, upon lie, upon lie. He’s indicting himself. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck, and he’s the train.” During the interview, Scott Peterson claims he has spoken with Marc Klaas, a claim vehemently denied by him: “There is no ambiguity in this. I have never in my life spoken to Scott Peterson.” After the interview, Ted Rowlands remarks that he is surprised Scott Peterson did the interview without an attorney present, as he had stopped by Kirk McAllister’s office before doing the interview, and the attorney’s previous advice was to say nothing to the media. The reporter also remarks that the embattled husband had retained a public relations firm to help him repair his public image. The Associated Press publishes an analysis of Scott Peterson’s media blitz, with the consensus of the experts being that he would be better off saying less. The Modesto Bee runs a story giving background information on Scott Peterson’s job, characterizing the fertilizer sales business as tough: “Scott Peterson faces a challenge every day he goes to work, trying to beat the odds in a lucrative, yet competitive, field.” The story states that chemical dealers who previously were in contact with Scott Peterson have not heard from him since his wife’s disappearance, and that many dealers who have bought products from or had been approached by him declined to be identified for the story. “It’s a tragic story that no one wants to be linked to,” one dealer is quoted as saying. “I’ve already taken calls about this, and I don’t want to spend any more time with it.” Meanwhile, in Longview, Washington, Leslie Slape of the The Daily News breaks a story about a possible sighting of Laci Peterson in Sinnett’s Market Place there. The sighting is corroborated by at least one other witness. Sgt. Dan Jacobs begins reviewing the store’s videotapes. According to the article, the clerk told police officers that a pregnant woman came into the store and said: “This is serious. I was kidnapped. Call the authorities when I leave.” The story relates that the clerk had intended to call the authorities but became distracted, only recalling the incident when watching televised reports about the Laci Peterson case. According to the news account, the clerk described the woman as a “classic beauty” with sleek brown hair, who appeared to be in her 20s and in a late stage of pregnancy, accompanied by a much older man with “strong features” and a ruddy complexion. The article states that when the man stepped out of line to get something he forgot, the clerk remarked to the woman that she should be wearing a coat on such a chilly day, prompting her reply that she had no time to get a coat because she had been kidnapped by the man, who she claimed was armed—a statement that the clerk did not at first take seriously. When the man returned and asked about what the two women had been speaking, the clerk replied, “She said you kidnapped her.” According to the report, the clerk sensed that the statement made the man angry, so she teasingly added that her husband always kidnapped her to take her to dinner, at which point the man seemed to relax and said, “Yeah, I guess I kidnapped her.” A reporter from the Associated Press calls Sinnett’s Market Place to follow up on the story, but a manager states he has no information and hangs up the phone. Back in Modesto, Doug Ridenour places the sighting in perspective: “We are looking into it at this point. It’s one of almost 5,800 tips and leads we have received.” At 9:18 p.m., Heidi Fritz calls Scott Peterson to discuss the sighting. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak three times by phone.
January 31 The Rocha family receives word that Scott Peterson has traded in the Land Rover that was Laci Peterson’s primary vehicle. The Longview Police Department issues a statement that the sighting of Laci Peterson at Sinnett’s Market Place was “unfounded,” noting that detectives had reviewed more than 45 hours of surveillance tape from the store and concluded that Laci Peterson was not in any of the footage. Kim Petersen states that the Rocha family is taking the news in stride, never taking the story seriously. “It didn’t make sense from the beginning,” she says. “I mean, how many times does a pregnant woman walk into a store and say she’s being kidnapped? How could you forget something like that?” In the morning, Sharon Rocha sends an e-mail to a number of persons, asking them to spread the word about a vigil for Laci Peterson. Brad Saltzman states there is no specific location for the observance, but supporters agree during the day to meet in the front yard of Ron Grantski and Sharon Rocha. An invitation is posted on http://www.lacipeterson.com: “Light a candle, say a prayer or think a positive thought for their return. No particular faith is endorsed. Some will light candles to St. Jude, Holy Mary. Others will just light a plain candle, leave a porch light on or will stop for a moment of silence to send their positive prayer into the world.” The time for the planned observance is 10:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. The idea picks up steam and, by nightfall in Modesto, evolves into a worldwide vigil. Shortly before the local observance, Ron Grantski states, “We received e-mails from people all over who said they’d be lighting a candle for Laci.” At exactly 7:00 p.m., the group gathered at the Rocha-Grantski residence lights candles and sings “Amazing Grace,” showing support for the family and hope for the cause. As candles flicker, family friend Rita Keller offers a quiet prayer: “We pray that all the light here tonight will pierce the darkness and help us to find Laci.” Grantski addresses the false sighting, saying that he appreciates the clerk’s willingness to contact authorities, even though it did not result in finding Laci Peterson. He implores the “monster who took Laci” to come forward with information. The Modesto Bee runs an article titled, “Peterson Suspicious in Eyes of Experts.” The article includes comments from Nick Flint, Eric Hickey, Harland Braun and Mark Geragos. Flint suggests that Scott Peterson is doing investigators a favor by providing interviews. “The more he talks, the better it is for the investigation,” Flint offers. “There’s a desire in people to keep their mouths rattling when they really shouldn’t say anything. Eventually, it’s things like this that break cases open.” Flint also notes that Scott Peterson’s emotions are not ringing true. “The problem a suspect like Peterson has is that he should be feeling the emotion of grief,” Flint explains. “Grief is the hardest emotion to fake. He’s trying to look like he’s grieving, but that emotional content isn’t there. I think what he’s feeling is fear.” In his analysis, Flint keys on one exchange he believes to be especially revealing—when Diane Sawyer asked Scott Peterson about his unborn son, he replied, “That was—it’s so hard.” “That correction is an important part of it,” Flint says. “When they say something, and then they fix it, it’s a sign that they recognize that they’ve said something wrong.” Hickey states he noticed Scott Peterson’s eyes. When he was asked, “Did you murder your wife?” and, “Did you ever hit her or injure her?” his eyes quickly shifted to the left and then back to Sawyer, Hickey notes. Braun, who resigned from defending Robert Blake after he wanted to grant an interview with Sawyer, states concerning Scott Peterson’s barrage of interviews, “This is a case where the guy should keep his mouth shut.” He adds that Scott Peterson’s claim that he told his wife about his affair represents “potential proof that he knows she’s dead.” Geragos agrees with Braun, saying he would tell Scott Peterson to “suck it up” rather than to defend his honor in the media, suggesting that reputation should be the least of his worries: “If you get filed on for murder, then you’ve got a much bigger problem.” Curtis and Arata issues a no-comment statement on behalf of Tradecorp: “Tradecorp has been asked to comment publicly on our company’s relationship with Scott Peterson, which we consider to be a personnel issue. Our company’s policy is that personnel matters are kept strictly confidential, which precludes any further comment by Tradecorp. We hope and pray for the safe return of Laci Peterson.” According to the National Enquirer, someone from the Modesto Police Department, presumably Det. Jon Buehler, asks Amber Frey to try to get Scott Peterson to take a lie detector test the next time he calls her. At 7:06 p.m., he calls her and the two talk for 25 minutes. Six minutes after this call ends, he calls her again. During this second call, she challenges him by saying, “You keep telling me how much you love me and want to be with me. But I have to know that you had nothing to do with Laci’s disappearance.” She then asks, “Will you take a lie detector test and put my mind at rest once and for all?” He hesitates. The call ends at 7:49 p.m. Seconds later, she calls Buehler and they speak for 12 minutes. The two talk again at 11:40 p.m., at which time he passes along instructions. The moment this conversation ends, she calls Scott Peterson and offers to go to be tested with him. “If you’ll take the poly, I’ll come with you and take one to prove that I knew nothing about what has happened,” she states. The last call to Scott Peterson ends at 11:59 p.m. According to Steve Jacobson’s preliminary hearing testimony, Scott Peterson and Amber Frey speak four times by phone.