Peterson: Disappearance & Arrest

February 14, 2003

Search plans vary for families

The family of missing Modesto woman Laci Peterson firmed up plans Thursday for a weekend search, while her in-laws held a press conference to say what they were doing to find her.

Peterson, 27, has been missing since Christmas Eve. She was eight months pregnant, and she was due to deliver a son five days ago.

"We cannot ignore that Laci's pregnancy might have had something to do with her abduction," said her sister-in-law Susan Caudillo, her parents at her side in San Diego.

"With her due date being this month, we feel it is critical to continue our effort in looking for Laci everywhere we can."

Family members said they are contacting hospitals and clinics around the country in the hope that Peterson might have arrived to give birth.

Her husband, Scott, who grew up in San Diego, did not attend the press conference.

His mother, Jacqueline Peterson, said he was in Modesto searching for his wife. "Scott is looking for Laci. That is his whole purpose, and he's continued to do that from day one," she said.

Scott Peterson, 30, has acknowledged having an affair with another woman in the month before his wife disappeared. Since then, her family has pressed him to be more forthcoming with investigators.

Police have not named him as a suspect nor have they ruled him out.

Now the two sides of the family, instead of appearing together in interviews and at press conferences, seem to be going their own ways.

For its part, Laci Peterson's family organized three searches in February. The first took place last weekend.

The next one is set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Don Pedro Reservoir in Tuolumne County. The family announced that the gathering place will be Fleming Meadows Recreation Area on the southwest side of the reservoir.

Volunteers will not have to pay the $5 per vehicle gate fee for admission to the recreation area, said Carol Russell, director of the Don Pedro Recreation Agency.

"There will be a need for boats," Russell said. "There are a few areas that people can get to on foot, but about 90 percent of the area is only accessible by boat."

Much of the land around Don Pedro reservoir is private, she said, and cannot be searched without landowner permission.

In another development, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office denied media reports stating that crime lab workers had completed their analysis of much of the evidence collected in the case and had advised police of the results.

"I heard a news report that we had completed 80 percent of the DNA analysis, and I wondered where that came from," said Manuel Valencia, spokesman for the attorney general's office, which runs the Department of Justice and its crime labs.

"We aren't saying that and we aren't saying much," Valencia said. "We are just working through the evidence."

Fleming Meadows Recreation Area is on Bonds Flat Road, which runs between La Grange Road and Highway 132. From Modesto, head east on Yosemite Boulevard, which turns into Highway 132, and go about 30 miles to La Grange Road. Turn left on La Grange Road and go 4.7 miles to Bonds Flat Road. Turn right and go 3.2 miles to the recreation area. A map and more information on Saturday's search is posted at

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

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