Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laci Peterson

The Best-Laid Plans

Shortly after he found out that Laci Peterson was pregnant, Scott Peterson took out a quarter-million dollar life insurance policy on her. That may have been nothing more than careful planning for the child that was on the way, not something suspicious. But weeks before Laci Peterson went missing Scott also bought four fake diplomas. Investigators would later conjecture that it was all part of a plan to start a new life.

Scott Peterson's boat
Scott Peterson's boat
Scott Peterson's online history shows that in December he shopped for and bought a boat and studied the currents in San Francisco Bay. He browsed a U.S. Geological Survey chart of water currents, and seems to have focused his attention on Brooks Island, where he would later claim he went fishing on December 23.

In November 2002, Laci Peterson inherited some jewelry from her grandmother, and the way she handled this would later make investigators suspicious. She hocked some of the cheaper jewelry at a pawnshop for a total of $250, telling the pawnbroker that she was cleaning out her jewelry box. This was not the most lucrative way to sell jewelry; it's what someone might do if they wanted to reclaim the items lateror if they wanted to raise a little cash quickly. The pawnbroker would later say that Laci looked "uncomfortable" when she came in with her laid-back husband. It may be that Scott Peterson pressured her into this to raise money for a getaway, and that she sensed something was wrong.

Laci Peterson
Laci Peterson
She also had a jeweler fashion two of her grandmother's rings around her own wedding ring. With her wedding ring at the jeweler's, she started wearing a sapphire ring in its place. The day she disappeared, the sapphire ring, her watch, and a diamond pendant that friends reported she wore everyday and never took off were found on her dresser. She wasn't in the habit of even going out to walk the dog without them.

When police later had her mother look over the jewelry box to determine if anything was missing, Sharon Rocha didn't recognize the absence of the pawned jewelry. She reported only a diamond watch and a pair of diamond earrings missing.

Scott and Laci seemed to have kept the inheritanceand its salequiet.

That wouldn't be the only mystery.

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