Peterson: Disappearance & Arrest

February 12, 2003

Vehicle alleged to have struck Peterson's business

First someone broke into Scott Peterson's house, and now someone has bashed in the door at his warehouse.

Peterson, husband of Laci Peterson, the 27-year-old Modesto woman who has been missing since Christmas Eve, called authorities at 10 a.m. Saturday to report the vandalism. A Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman confirmed that the damage appears to have been deliberate, perhaps caused by someone driving a vehicle into the door.

In other developments:

Two Modesto police detectives visited Scott Peterson inside his La Loma neighborhood home for about 10 minutes Tuesday evening. The detectives left without commenting on the nature of the visit.

Laci Peterson's family announced that it might change the locations of two searches planned for the next two Saturdays. Last weekend, the first of three Saturday searches scheduled in February drew some 500 volunteers, according to the family.

Scott Peterson's vandalism report went to the Sheriff's Department because his office-warehouse is in county territory. The warehouse is on Emerald Avenue off Kansas Avenue in west Modesto.

He uses the warehouse in his work as a salesman for Tradecorp, a Spanish company that makes fertilizer.

Peterson, 30, has been the subject of intense public scrutiny since the revelation that he had an affair with another woman in the month before his wife's disappearance. Police say they have not named him as a suspect in the case, nor have they ruled him out.

Kelly Huston, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said authorities do not know when the warehouse vandalism occurred. He said Peterson told deputies that he had not been there in nearly two weeks.

Nothing was taken, Huston said. He said Peterson reported that he removed everything of value about two weeks ago.

Peterson did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

Huston said: "It looks like someone took a car and rammed it into the walk-in door."

He said deputies believe the damage was intentional because of the angle at which the vehicle hit the door. Parking spaces in the complex are perpendicular to the buildings, but the damage to the warehouse door did not come from a vehicle going straight, as if pulling into a parking place.

"There's also a large space between the parking and the door, so it would be pretty difficult to hit the door," Huston said.

The incident put a large dent in the metal door and bent it so that it no longer properly fits the frame, and cracked the frame and shattered some of the wall next to the door.

Tuesday, sheets of wood had been nailed across the door to keep anyone from getting inside.

The small warehouse is in a complex that includes an automotive glass company, a custom cabinet design business and a sign company.

Peterson reported the burglary at his house on Jan. 19 after returning from Los Angeles. He had worked there that weekend to expand the search for his wife to Southern California.

Police said a window had been broken to gain entry. They declined to say what was taken.

Three days later, police reported that they had identified a suspect -- whom they described as someone known by the Petersons. Police said the stolen property was returned.

The suspect's name has not been released and no arrest has been made. "We will forward it to the district attorney's office and see if they want to file a criminal complaint," Detective Doug Ridenour said last week.

Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, said Tuesday that the family had not decided the locations for the searches planned for this Saturday and Feb. 22.

Pardee search unnecessary

The first search took place amid the rangeland and waterways of western Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin County. The next two were to be at Don Pedro Reservoir in Tuolumne County, and Lake Pardee on the border of Calaveras and Amador counties.

Tim Cox, ranger-supervisor with the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which operates Lake Pardee, said a search probably is not necessary there.

He said public access was not allowed at the lake from October through early this month, and the only way to get inside would have been to cut through a chain-link fence or to climb over the fence, which is topped with barbed wire.

Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin can be reached at 578-2347 or

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