Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laci Peterson

Lady Killer

Laci and Scott Peterson
Laci and Scott Peterson
The Petersons seemed a happy young couple, with good jobs, two nice cars, and a new house of their own where their loyal golden retriever greeted them as they came home from work each day. Their relationships with their families and in-laws were warm and they were about to have a baby.

But, behind the confident smiles frozen in their family photos, Scott Peterson wasn't very happy at all.

His brother-in-law Brent Rocha recalled later that Scott was worried about his job performance and about turning 30. Scott seems to have told anyone who'd listen that he wasn't comfortable with his impending fatherhood. And records show that the couple were living a lifestyle beyond the means of his $60,000 annual salary.

The realities of work, marriage and parenthood can leave some feeling trapped. Peterson consoled himself with a series of affairs. He could have left his wife and child, but that would have meant saddling himself with child support and alimony, not fully freeing himself.

So instead of getting a divorce, Scott murdered his wife, Laci Peterson, dumping herstill pregnant with their unborn son, Connerin San Francisco Bay.

Scott Peterson and Amber Frey
Scott Peterson and Amber Frey
He seems to have done it without any remorse. Friends and family would remark on how coolly he responded to Laci's disappearance on Christmas Eve 2002. Maybe the fertilizer salesman was distracted by his current mistress, Amber Frey. Glib salesman Peterson had to move large loads of fertilizer to try to prevent Frey from finding out about his wife, even once Laci was dead.

Peterson's charms, however, didn't long fool Frey. She testified against him at his trial for Laci's murder, calling him "a wolf in sheep's clothing." Nor did they persuade his jury, who convicted him on remarkably little physical evidence. Now he sits on death row, and few outside of his immediate family and a few Satanic-conspiracy theorists think he's anything but guilty. He seems an obvious sociopath now, but for a while he'd had good luck in convincing women that he was a sweet, serious and loving guy. That he was too good to be true.

And that was Laci Peterson's downfall.


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