Officer rules out Peterson sighting

04/12/2003 9:50 AM

11/20/2007 6:14 AM

A police officer in Tempe, Ariz., last weekend checked out a tip that Laci Peterson had been spotted there.

The lead did not turn up anything, further frustrating relatives of the missing Modesto woman.

Jackie Peterson, her mother-in-law, described something almost as frustrating: trying to get the tip into police hands.

She said the anonymous tip came in Sunday on a toll-free line. Laci Peterson's husband, Scott, and his family set up the line.

Jackie Peterson said she immediately tried to relay the Tempe tip to Modesto police, figuring that they were in the best position to ask Tempe police for help.

Peterson called the Modesto Police Department's Laci Peterson tips line -- but it is not normally staffed after weekday business hours or on weekends. Peterson said the police phone system cut her off as she attempted to reach an operator.

Detective Doug Ridenour, police spokesman, said he would have the tips line system checked out. He advised people to call the Police Department's main number if the tips line malfunctions.

Peterson called Tempe and convinced police to check out the report. The female tipster said she had seen someone who looked like Laci Peterson in or around a vehicle parked in front of a house.

Officer Jon Rennerfeldt arrived at the address about 2:05 p.m., police spokesman Dan Masters said. Rennerfeldt conducted interviews and left 55 minutes later, unable to locate Peterson or anyone matching her description, Masters said.

Peterson's family reported her missing Christmas Eve; she was about eight months pregnant. Her husband has told police he last saw her about 9:30 a.m. that day as he left to go fishing out of Berkeley and his wife prepared to go for a walk with their dog at East La Loma Park.

On March 5, police declared the case a

homicide, even without a body.

Ridenour said calls to the police tips line have dwindled in recent weeks. From more than 8,000 a couple of months ago, he said, the total number of calls had risen slowly to 8,891 as of Friday.

The Police Department tips line is 342-6166, and the main number is 572-9500.

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