No call back on sighting of Laci

02/27/2003 8:00 AM

11/20/2007 6:00 AM

Vivian Mitchell says she saw Laci Peterson walking her dog Christmas Eve morning, about 45 minutes after Scott Peterson said he left for a fishing trip.

Mitchell said it was between 10 and 10:15 a.m. when she saw Laci Peterson, wearing black and white clothes. Mitchell called police and reported the sighting, but they have not called her back.

Police spokesman Doug Ridenour said Mitchell and several other people reported seeing the missing 27-year-old pregnant woman at about that time. He said investigators looked into the tips, but did not return calls to everyone.

Also this week, the man who sold a boat to Scott Peterson in early December said police asked him to inspect it.

Bruce Peterson, who is no relation to Scott Peterson, told television reporters he saw what "looked like cement residue -- powdery stuff that would come out of the bag. I just know it wasn't that way when I sold it to him."

Wednesday, Vivian Mitchell said she was washing dishes at her sink on Dec. 24 when she saw Peterson walk by her La Loma neighborhood home.

"I had glanced out the window, and the sun had come out and it was a very nice day," she said. "It had been raining recently, so the sunshine brought out all the dog walkers."

Scott Peterson said he last saw his wife at 9:30 that morning as he left for a fishing trip to Berkeley. He told police he could not find his wife when he returned home.

Peterson's stepfather, Ron Grantski, reported Laci Peterson missing about 6:30 p.m. after receiving a call from Scott Peterson.

Police have said the last time anyone other than Scott Peterson spoke with Laci was at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 23, when she talked with her mother on the phone.

More than 8,000 tips received

Police Chief Roy Wasden said Wednesday that the Police Department has received more than 8,000 tips since the case began.

"Some of them have been of absolutely no value and some have been useful," Wasden said. "We're continuing to follow up on every lead. But we're not able to share that information, as it is part of the ongoing investigation."

The Mitchell home is at Buena Vista and La Sombra avenues, about 10 blocks from the Peterson home on Covena Avenue.

"I had seen Laci walk by the house several times before," Mitchell said. "When she walked by on Christmas Eve, I hollered to Bill, 'Oh, look, it's the lady with the golden retriever.'"

Bill Mitchell, a former three-term Modesto city councilman, said he went to the window and saw the dog go around the corner.

"It looked like the dog wanted to go one way, and she was going another," he said.

Walking in neighborhood

Vivian Mitchell said she saw Peterson heading south on Buena Vista heading toward La Sombra Avenue.

"She must have come from Kewin Park," she said. "The dog wanted to head toward Yosemite Boulevard. She circled the dog around, and they headed the other way."

A neighbor later reported finding the dog running loose in the neighborhood about 10:30 a.m., and she placed the dog in the Petersons' back yard.

On Dec. 26, police detectives used bloodhounds trained to track people to try to find Peterson. The dogs led their handlers toward Yosemite Boulevard.

Vivian Mitchell said she called police about a week later to report the sighting, after her husband and friends urged her to do so. She said she waited a week because she assumed others also saw Peterson walking the dog.

"She looked very happy and smiling, and they were having a nice walk," Vivian Mitchell said. "It made me feel bad that she disappeared then."

Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin can be reached at 578-2347 or pgiblin@modbee.com.

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