On Christmas Eve 2002, Laci Peterson, who was pregnant at the time, suddenly vanished while walking the family dog. Months later, her body washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay, launching an investigation into her murder. Her husband, Scott Peterson, was eventually found guilty of the crime, something that initially came as a shock considering that the couple, by all appearances, had a perfect life.
As the investigation continued, authorities found Scott’s behavior and disinterest in his wife’s death, as well as an inconsistent alibi and refusal to take a polygraph test, suspicious. The police found evidence to suggest that Laci’s husband had killed her and he was arrested while on the run in 2003, charged with first-degree murder of Laci and second-degree murder of their baby, Connor. Scott was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2004.
Scott’s extramarital affair with Amber Frey was considered to be the source of motivation for killing his wife, after investigators discovered that he had made a phone call to Amber during the New Year’s Eve candlelight vigil for Laci. He told Amber he was in Europe celebrating at the time.
Amber helped police with the case, noting that she didn’t know Scott was married or that his wife had gone missing.
Last year marked fifteen years after Laci’s murder and Scott was in San Quentin State Prison’s death row, with two appeals and a request for a new trial denied. He made his first public statements about Laci’s murder in an A&E docuseries, The Murder of Laci Peterson, and was the subject of the Discovery documentary Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery.
According to Scott, he said he was innocent of the crime and, in June 2017, during a phone call with his sister-in-law, Janey, he said: “I wasn’t the last one to see Laci that day. There were so many witnesses who saw her walking in the neighborhood after I left. The police failed to find my family.”
Scott claimed he “had no idea” that he would be convicted of double murder and was “staggered” by the verdict, explaining: “It was crazy, just this amazing, horrible, physical reaction I had. I couldn’t feel my feet on the floor. I couldn’t feel the chair I was sitting in. My vision was even a little blurry.”
In the A&E series, SF Gate explains, the police “failed to talk to witnesses whose sightings of Laci walking the family dog on the afternoon of her disappearance would have at least suggested a greater possibility of reasonable doubt in Peterson’s trial.”
The documentary definitely had people wondering whether Scott was actually innocent or not, with one commenter on SF Gate writing: “I’m surprised it took this long for a documentary to surface on this case. Peterson was found guilty by the media and he was sentenced to death without a shred of evidence. It’s shocking to think a person can be sent to death row because they were proven to be a cheating husband. In California there is a murderer around every corner. Anyone could’ve killed Laci. The actual evidence leaves a mountain of doubt. I don’t think the jurors were sophisticated enough to understand the law. If justice prevails, Peterson will get a new trial.”