Many elements combined to catapult the case of a missing pregnant woman at Christmastime to an international news story.
But it never would have happened, observers say, if Laci Peterson's family and friends hadn't tried so desperately - and so publicly - to find her.
"Her family made her real, shared her with the nation, " said Kim Peterson, director of a local missing people foundation and spokeswoman for Laci Peterson's family.
While families gathered for the holidays, Laci's gathered to pass out fliers and lead searches. Hundreds of volunteers joined, cameras descended and the story took off.
Laci's mother and stepfather, Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski of Modesto, were heavily involved. Her brother and sister, Brent and Amy Rocha, and her father, Dennis Rocha, also were visible.
Laci Peterson's family at first stood by her husband. That changed after police said Scott Peterson had been having an affair.
When the bodies of mother and child were recovered in April, Sharon Rocha addressed a nation in a mix of anger and dignity.
Since then, Laci Peterson's relatives have not sought the spotlight. But circumstances have led them to it.
For example, in May, Sharon Rocha lobbied for legislation named after her daughter and grandson. Supporters say it would make murder of an unborn child a federal crime.
Despite differences between the families, they have expressed empathy for each other.
Grantski, in a June interview with NBC's Katie Couric, said: "Now there's two families that are suffering for different reasons, and we probably will keep on suffering for a long time."