Frey book upsets Rochas

January 4, 2005 

  • The Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation on Friday will present $50,000 to the people who found the remains of Laci and Conner Peterson in April 2003, Modesto police announced Monday. Separate passers-by discovered the remains a day apart along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. The discoveries ended an almost four-month search for the missing pregnant woman that included thousands of volunteers combing large swaths of Northern California. A $500,000 reward had been offered for her safe return. A check for $25,000 will be presented to the people who found Laci Peterson, and another check for $25,000 will be given to those who found Conner, according to the Police Department statement. Jurors in December recommended the death penalty for Scott Peterson in the murders of his wife and unborn son. Formal sentencing is set for Feb. 25.

The cover of Amber Frey's new book about her involvement in the Laci Peterson murder investigation is "extremely hurtful and offensive to Laci's mother and her family," an attorney for the slain Modesto woman's mother said Monday.

"Displaying a picture of Laci on the cover of Amber Frey's book portrays a lack of respect and insensitivity towards Laci and Laci's family and friends," Adam Stewart said.

"In addition to that," Stewart said, "having Amber's picture positioned between Laci and Scott is extremely hurtful and offensive to Laci's mother and her family."

Frey, Scott Peterson's lover at the time his wife disappeared, was a main prosecution witness after she secretly recorded hours of Peterson's calls at police request.

Prosecutors contend Peterson romanced the Fresno massage therapist as he plotted the murder of his wife so he could lead a jet- setting bachelor life.

The cover of Frey's book, "Witness for the Prosecution of Scott Peterson," depicts a color photo of her, blonde hair flowing as she leaves the Redwood City courtroom after testifying in Peterson's double-murder trial.

A smaller, black-and-white photo of Laci Peterson appears over one shoulder, and Scott Peterson's photo is on the other side.

The book, to be released today, is the first in a likely string of written accounts from the players in a murder case that became a nationally televised drama.

A jury in December recommended that Scott Peterson be executed for the Christmastime 2002 slayings of his pregnant wife and unborn son. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced Feb. 25.

Book retailers have displayed the cover art online, and a photo of it ran in The Bee after a copy of the book was obtained Saturday.

Laci Peterson's family members, Stewart said, have not read Frey's book, which includes the line: "For as long as I live, I will never forget Gloria (Allred)'s words: 'The day you went to police, you became Laci's voice.'"

Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, who has staunchly defended her client in public and backed her decision to write a book, did not return a call Monday seeking comment.

Frey's dad would change cover

Frey's father, Ron Frey, dismissed the notion that his daughter was seeking to profit from her role in the case, but said he is sensitive to the concerns of Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha.

"It's always important to have it appropriate to Mrs. Rocha," Ron Frey said. "To offend them with a book, that's the last thing anybody should do. … If it was my book and it offended Mrs. Rocha, I'd change the cover. Keep in mind, I don't speak for Amber, Gloria or Regan Books."

A representative of Regan Books, an imprint of Harper-Collins Publishers, could not be reached for comment.

Ron Frey said he didn't think his daughter was involved in the cover design. Writing a book about her involvement in the case was cathartic for his daughter, he said, not a bid to cash in.

"This is a way of getting it out of her system," Frey said. "The more she talks, the better it is for her. This has been a nightmare."

Frey said he didn't know when his daughter started writing the book -- which is being released less than a month after jurors returned with a death recommendation -- and said he had no information about financial compensation.

"If she's going to live this luxurious lifestyle, that's not appropriate in the least," Frey said. "I don't think she's going to do that."

Frey said his daughter may donate book proceeds to charitable causes.

Several figures who appear in the book declined to comment on their portrayal.

Modesto police Detective Jon Buehler, whom Amber Frey thanks in the book for being "like a big brother to me," said he had not read the book. He declined to comment on any aspect of it, citing a current Police Department policy forbidding employees from talking about the case.

Detective Doug Ridenour, a police spokesman during the investigation, also cited the policy.

"The chief's going to make a decision on when it's appropriate to talk about (the case)," Ridenour said.

In the book, Frey said Ridenour at one point "came to my rescue" as he shepherded her through a Jan. 24, 2003, press conference in which she announced she had been romantically involved with Scott Peterson but thought he was single.

Lori Ellsworth, a friend of Laci Peterson's who invited Frey to stay at her home after the press conference, did not return a call Monday seeking comment.

In the book, Frey says Ellsworth told her that night: "I know he lied to Laci. … I wonder how many other lies he told her during the marriage."

Peterson lead defense attorney Mark Geragos, who sparred frequently in the media with Allred during the case, refused to comment on the book when reached by phone Monday.

Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or jcote@modbee.com.

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