Peterson: Disappearance & Arrest

February 18, 2003

Police continue to pursue new leads in Peterson case

Modesto police continue to pursue leads in the Laci Peterson case, and a spokesman said Monday that investigators have made some headway.

Also Monday, Peterson's mother-in-law appealed for help in finding the missing Modesto woman, who was due to give birth to a baby boy last week.

"Nothing's changed. The investigation continues to go well," said Detective Doug Ridenour, spokesman for the Modesto Police Department. By "well," he explained, he means "we keep eliminating a lot of things, and we still have further leads we're pursuing."

Ridenour said no arrests are imminent in the case.

Jackie Peterson, the mother of Laci Peterson's husband, Scott, said Monday that she believes time is running out to find her daughter-in-law before she gives birth.

Jackie Peterson said her family believes kidnappers abducted the 27-year-old woman from outside her Modesto home with intentions of holding her captive until she delivered the baby.

"There's no other explanation," Peterson said by telephone from her home in Solana Beach, north of San Diego.

Laci Peterson's stepfather reported her missing Christmas Eve after Scott Peterson returned from a solo fishing trip in the Bay Area and could not find his wife. The couple was expecting their first child, a boy they planned to name Connor.

Peterson said her daughter-in-law's due date initially was estimated for Feb. 10, but was later revised to Feb. 16. Laci Peterson's family has maintained she was due Feb. 10.

Jackie Peterson noted first pregnancies often go past the due date.

"We believe she is still pregnant," she said. "If everybody were looking, they'd find her because she's pregnant. But she's not going to be pregnant for much longer."

Peterson expressed frustration over suspicion focused on her son, especially since reports surfaced that he had an affair with a Fresno woman late last year. Peterson said the reports have detracted from the search for Laci and hurt the volunteer effort.

"At first we didn't mind but it became more about him than about Laci," Peterson said. "We had a lot of people volunteering and the (Carole Sund Carrington) foundation closed the volunteer center the day they heard he had an affair. And that put people to stop looking for her, which makes no sense to me."

The negative attention has compounded the exhaustion Peterson said she and her family have experienced throughout the ordeal.

"I'd like to crawl into bed and cover up my head but I can't do that. I can't until I find Laci."

Peterson defended her son's actions that have raised speculation. She explained that he attempted to sell Laci's 1996 Land Rover because police had confiscated his own pickup and Laci had wanted to have a new car because she thought the Land Rover was unsafe.

Peterson said she and her husband had gone out with the couple to look for a new car in the days before Laci disappeared. She said the young woman picked out a Mercedes and that Scott still hopes to buy one for her.

A report that Scott considered selling the couple's home, she said, came from a "flip statement" he made about not wanting to live in the house after Laci is found.

Scott is hurt by the allegations against him and the divide it has created between him and Laci's family, she said. "But he has to set that aside and continue to search for her. He can't think about it."

Scott, a fertilizer salesman, is staying in Modesto and searching daily for Laci, walking through remote areas and visiting police stations to post fliers, Peterson said.

"She could be anywhere. It's been well over a month since she vanished," Jackie Peterson said. "There's just someone somewhere in this country who knows where she is."

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