Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laci Peterson

Laci Peterson

Laci Peterson
Laci Peterson
Laci Denise Rocha was born in Modesto, Calif., in 1975. She would die there at the age of 27. Her parents, Dennis Robert Rocha and Sharon Ruth Anderson, split up when she was just a year old. She lived with her mother along with, eventually, her stepfather Ron Grantski. She and her older brother, Brent, also spent a lot of time with her father and his new wife and their daughter Amy at his dairy farm in nearby Escalon.

The perky, pretty brunette was a popular cheerleader at Modesto's Thomas Downey High School. For a while, the headstrong girl had a violent boyfriend. Her family thought about him when she disappeared in 2002. But he was already in Washington State Prison, serving a sentence for trying to kill another girlfriend.

She graduated from high school in 1993, then, inspired by her father's love of farming, studied ornamental horticulture at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. She wanted to someday open her own flower shop.

While completing her degree, she fell for another student, a waiter at the Pacific Cafe in Morro Bay. Even before she got a friend to slip him her number, she told her mother she'd met the man she was going to marry. Laci was accustomed to getting what she wanted, so her mother wasn't surprised when they quickly got serious. He was a smooth-talking, cocky guy a few years older than she named Scott Peterson.

He was unattached but still trying to win back an ex when he started wooing Laci; at first he tried to pit the women against each other. By the end of 1994, though, Laci moved in with Scott Peterson and gave him a puppy for Christmas.

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