Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laci Peterson

Starting a family . . . and a new affair

Laci and Scott Peterson
Laci and Scott Peterson
When Scott Peterson graduated with a degree in agricultural business, his father made him a partner in his corrugated box business. But it wasn't a heartwarming story of a small family business. Scott bought out his fatherthen sold the business, to the older man's regret.

Next, Scott and Laci Peterson opened sports bar they named The Shack. When running it proved less fun than they'd expected, they closed it to move to Modesto. In 2002, they bought a $177,000 ranch home, thanks to $30,000 from his parents.

He found a sales job with a Spanish agricultural company, Tradecorp. He sold the company's fertilizer across California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Laci never opened the flower shop she wanted. She worked at some events businesses, then took a job as a substitute teacher. She wanted kids of her own too.

With Scott reluctant to have kids, the Petersons didn't start trying to conceive until 2000. They considered fertility treatment, but Laci Peterson became pregnant in 2002. Conner Peterson was due February 10, 2003.

Laci was ecstatic; Scott was having second thoughts. When his sister-in-law, Rosemarie Rocha, asked him how he felt about the new arrival they were waiting for, Scott admitted that he'd hoped they'd prove infertile. And when a cousin, Gwendolyn Kemple, talked about how fun it would be for Scott to play catch with a son, he sullenly replied he already had friends with whom he could do that.

He started another affair, too.

Scott Peterson met Shawn Sibley at a pest management conference in Anaheim in October 2002. Sibley would later recall that Peterson talked constantly about sex, but that he said he was looking for a serious long-term relationship. He did not tell her he was already married. Instead, he said he had "lost his soul mate" (he seems to have shied away from saying, for example, "my wife died", sticking with "lost" when he described things to his potential liaisons) and was worried that he'd always be alone. Sibley was engaged, but he asked her if she had any friends to whom she could introduce him.

Amber Frey
Amber Frey
She introduced him to Amber Frey in November 2002. Frey had gone to community college, then worked as a preschool teacher. Now, struggling to support a 20-month-old child on her own, she'd trained as a massage therapist.

For their first date, Peterson had Frey meet him in a hotel roomhe'd told her he lived in Sacramento and had a condo in San Diegofor champagne and strawberries, then took her to a private room at a Japanese restaurant. They talked until the restaurant closed, then moved on to a karaoke bar, where they sang a duet and kissed. They spent the night in his room. The next day he told her he was headed to Alaska for a Thanksgiving hunting trip, but that he'd call.

As their affair proceeded through December, Scott Peterson once again proved himself a great romantic. He brought Amber Frey roses and other presents. He made dinner for her at her one-bedroom Madera cottage. He was great with her young daughter. He bought them a home planetarium, to remind them of the day that they went hiking together and competed to see who would spot the evening's first star. He didn't want kids, he insisted; Amber's daughter was all they'd need together.

Of course, he didn't tell her about his wife, the baby they were expecting, or even that he lived in Modesto.

But he seems to have been working on a big plan.