In a case that made national headlines, Scott Peterson was found guilty of brutally murdering his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, in Modesto, California, in 2002. His motive was his wish to escape married life and the upcoming responsibilities of fatherhood.
Laci Peterson, 26, was reported missing from her home on Christmas Eve 2002. Four months later, her badly decomposed body and the body of her unborn child Conner were washed ashore separately in the San Francisco Bay area. Conner’s body was relatively well preserved due to having been protected in the womb and would later provide evidence against his killer.
Although an official cause of death was never determined, the police believe Laci was smothered.
Scott was an early suspect, police found him unconcerned and at times uncooperative about the case. For example, he refused to take a polygraph test. He told police he’d been fishing when Laci went missing, but he seemed unable to recall simple details about the day.
After Laci disappeared, but before her remains were found, a massage therapist from Fresno, Amber Fey, informed the police that she’d been having an affair with Scott since November. Peterson had told her that his wife was dead.
The police eventually discovered tangible evidence linking Scott to the murder. Experts were able to determine the movement of Laci’s corpse in the water, the point where she was dumped correlated with Scott’s movements. Analysis of a bone in Conner’s leg also indicated the time of death, which implicated his father in the crime.
Laci’s husband was arrested in San Diego in April 2003; he was carrying $10,000 in cash, camping gear, his brother’s ID, and four cell phones. This, coupled with his now dyed blond hair and grown beard, led many to suspect he was about to make a run for Mexico.
Scott Peterson was convicted of the first-degree murder of Laci and the second-degree murder of their prenatal child Conner. He is currently on death row at San Quentin state prison.
Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery Part 1 & 2 can be seen at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.