In a dramatic move Friday, authorities in the northern San Diego County community of La Jolla arrested Modesto’s Scott Peterson, whose pregnant wife Laci disappeared Christmas Eve.
FBI agents and San Diego area law enforcement officers stopped Peterson’s vehicle on Callan Road, near the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla at 11 a.m., said Bill Evans, a manager at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.
Late Friday afternoon authorities with the California Department of Justice announced that the remains found last weekend on the shore of San Francisco Bay were those of Laci Peterson and her unborn son.
San Diego County sheriff’s spokeswoman Chris Saunders declined to comment, referring all inquiries to the Modesto police who have scheduled a press conference for 6 p.m. in downtown Modesto. "We can’t say anything," Saunders said. "It’s not our case."
Peterson, 30, had not been seen publicly since the bodies of a baby boy and woman were discovered a day apart and a mile apart in a shoreline park near Richmond beginning Sunday.
The decomposing bodies washed up only a couple of miles north of the Berkeley Marina, where Peterson told authorities he went fishing the day his wife disappeared.
Peterson told investigators he last saw his 27-year-old wife — who was eight months pregnant with a boy due Feb. 10 — as she set out to walk their dog in La Loma Park and he left to go fishing.
Laci's stepfather, Ron Grantski, called authorities at 6:30 p.m. that same day to report her disappearance.
Authorities of volunteers staged a massive search for her, combing Dry Creek, the Tuolumne River and several lakes in the region.
They quickly set up a volunteer center at the Red Lion Inn, distributing fliers and sending volunteers out to aid in the searches. The Carole Sund-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation posted a $500,000 for Laci’s safe return.
Within a week, investigators claimed foul play in Laci’s disappearance. Within 10 days, investigators had serious questions about Scott Peterson’s statements.
They took forensic samples from his car and boat, and the focus of their investigation clearly turned toward him. They searched the warehouse in an Modesto industrial park, where he works for a fertizer company.
And Laci Peterson’s family also questioned Scott Peterson’s story, distancing themselves from him within three weeks of her disappearance and having little contact with him during a candlelight vigil in Modesto.
Then, in January, a Fresno woman revealed she had a romantic relationship with Scott Peterson, whom she believed was single.
By early March, police said they believed Laci was dead. The $500,000 reward for her safe return was expanded to include $50,000 for information leading directly to the location and recovery of her body. And in February, authorities searched Peterson’s home on Covena Lane in Modesto’s La Loma area.
Investigators took bags and bags of evidence from the home as Peterson stood in the driveway and the media watched from the street. Then, the bodies were discovered early this week. The state Department of Justice’s DNA lab worked around the clock to try to match DNA that would link the two bodies.
Wednesday, Stanislaus County District Attorney Jim Brazelton told The Bee he believed the bodies were of Laci Peterson and her baby, Conner. And a crime lab spokesman in Richmond said forensic pathologists had “no other person in mind” as they performed thei work. Still, until his arrest Friday, authorities would neither name nor eliminate Scott Peterson as a suspect.
Bee staff writer Jeff Jardine can be reached at 578-2383 or email@example.com.