Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laci Peterson

A Suspect?

It was a while before the public would blame Scott Peterson. Reporters asked whether he was a suspect, but his in-laws defended him and painted him and Laci Peterson as the perfect couple.

But Amber Frey was on to him.

Amber Frey
Amber Frey
On December 29, a friend in the Fresno police force, Richard Byrd, told her that the man she'd been dating was marriedand that his wife was missing. She went to the Modesto police and offered to help. During the first weeks of the case, Scott called Amber Frey multiple times a day. He told her he loved her; he requested photos. She started taping his phone calls.

On New Year's Eve, Peterson called Frey. He told her he was in Paris watching the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, spending the holiday with his friends Pasqual and François. He sounded happy and told her about the "unreal" celebration. It certainly was unreal. He was actually in California, at a vigil for his missing wife. But Laci's family couldn't find him there. Brent Rocha did get a call from Peterson's cell phone in which Scott told him that if people were looking for him, he was just going to be watching events unfold from the audience, with his friends.

On January 5, 2003, afraid that Frey had by now seen the Laci Peterson story on the news, Scott told her about his wife and her disappearance. Frey was taping that call. She demanded to know how he was able to tell her back in December that this would he his first holiday alone; he couldn't answer. He grasped for explanations to turn the story around. He implied that Conner wasn't his child. He even suggested that he thought Frey might be Laci's killer, since she had an obvious motive to kill his wife.

At a Modesto police press conference on January 24, 2003, a tearful Amber Frey announced that she'd been dating Scott Peterson and that she wasn't a suspect in the case. She told reporters that hadn't known he was married, and that Laci's family had her sympathy. Peterson's in-laws quickly turned against him. Only his parents stood by him.

Police now didn't need Laci's body to start building a case; they had Amber Frey.

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