Turnout could reach 3,000 for memorial service

May 2, 2003 

About 3,000 people are ex-pected to attend a Sunday afternoon memorial service for Laci Peterson, the Modesto woman whose remains were found last month along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.

That turnout would be more than double the estimated 1,200 people who nearly a year ago paid their respects to Chandra Levy, a Modesto woman whose disappearance, like Peterson's, gripped the nation.

The 24-year-old Levy was the subject of a major search and intense media coverage after she disappeared in 2001 in Washington, D.C., where she had just completed a federal internship. Her remains were found almost 13 months later in a District of Columbia park.

The body of Peterson's unborn son, Conner, washed ashore about a mile from his mother's body. Scott Peterson, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the slayings of his wife and son. He faces the death penalty.

The memorial service is set to take place on what would have been Laci Peterson's 28th birthday.

"The family wanted it to be on her birthday," spokeswoman Kim Petersen said.

Family and friends are slated to speak at the memorial service, which will include a video tribute, choir performance and other music.

"There will be songs that were some of Laci's favorites and ones that had a lot of meaning to the family," Petersen said.

The memorial service is set to start at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church, and is expected to last an hour.

Streets near the large church generally are closed for Sunday services, but there will be more closures this week, and they will be longer, police said.

The city will have 17 officers on duty around the church Sunday, Lt. Gary Watts said. Four will be working overtime, and another four will be reserves.

The extra police were required because several scheduled officers already are assigned to other events on the Cinco de Mayo weekend, he said. The city will absorb the approximately $1,200 extra cost, Watts said.

"It's affecting the entire community," Watts said. "We didn't feel it was appropriate to bill any single entity. It just didn't seem right."

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