Petersons critical of police

04/22/2003 8:05 AM

11/20/2007 6:20 AM

While Scott Peterson's parents proclaimed their son's innocence and criticized Modesto police, two of Scott and Laci's best friends admitted they have some doubts.

Two exclusive interviews -- the Petersons in Time magazine's online edition Sunday and Mike and Heather Richardson on NBC's "Today" on Monday morning -- took different paths.

Both interviews came within days of Peterson's arrest in the deaths of his 27-year-old wife and their unborn son.

Laci Peterson disappeared Christmas Eve, Scott told authorities, when he returned from a fishing trip to Berkeley and could not find her. Last week, visitors to a shoreline park near Richmond -- about two miles from where Scott Peterson said he'd been fishing -- came upon the bodies of Laci and the baby boy a day apart.

Authorities arrested Peterson on Friday morning in the San Diego County community of La Jolla.

Jackie Peterson declined an interview request from The Bee after her son's arraignment Monday afternoon in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

But in the Time magazine piece, Peterson's parents claimed that investigators ignored tips and other information that would clear their son.

" If it doesn't fit their theory, by God, they don't want to investigate it," Lee Peterson said. "I just can't be any more emphatic than that. And we're going to pursue this thing."

Jackie Peterson told Time reporter Jill Underwood that the police fixated on Scott's fishing trip and where the bodies were found.

" Why would he go 80 miles fishing, come home with a receipt and buy gas and food along the way, have a receipt of the dock and tell police exactly where he went fishing -- and the body would be there!" Jackie Peterson said. "That does not make sense. It's too inconvenient for that."

They talked about how much Scott and Laci loved each other, and they blamed the police for turning Laci's family against Scott.

" We're grieving for the baby as Scott is for Laci," Lee Peterson told Time. "And we'd like to extend our best to (Laci's) fam-ily. But I think if they search their hearts and really position themselves where they were before the police deceived them, and look at this thing in the wide context, they'll see the police have just bungled this investigation from day one."

Jackie Peterson took it one step further, calling the investigation a "cheap shot" and criticizing state Attorney General Bill Lockyer's comments about the case.

" You have (Lockyer) calling this a slam-dunk before there's even an arraignment," she said. "I'm feeling like I live in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. (I'm) just sick of this. Every man out there should be in fear if this is the way the police worked. "

Monday morning, however, the Richardsons weren't as supportive of Scott Peterson even though he called them from the Stanislaus County Jail on Saturday.

The Richardsons were best man and maid of honor when Scott and Laci Peterson were married, and the couples remained very close over the years.

"Yeah, Scott called a few hours after he'd been arrested,"

Heather Richardson said. "We had been leaving messages for each other, you know, days previous, and he basically called because he wanted to make sure he returned our call."

"Today" host Katie Couric asked if he said he was innocent.

"Nothing like that," Heather Richardson said. "He -- he was obviously upset. It sounded like he may have been crying. But yes, he was -- he was definitely shaken up."

Heather Richardson said nothing before Laci's disappearance led her to believe Scott was capable of a crime.

" After the fact, his actions were strange. I don't know about suspicious, but strange," she said. "But I don't know how one actually deals with your wife being disappeared. "

The Richardsons told Couric that Scott was "overjoyed" about becoming a father and enjoyed playing with their children.

When Couric asked about Scott's affair with a Fresno woman, Heather Richardson said if Laci knew about the affair, she never talked about it.

Couric ended the interview by asking the Richardsons if they still support Scott.

"You know, it's kind of hard to say," Mike Richardson said. "You know, we -- they were both our best friends. And thinking that -- that there's a chance Scott could have done this to Laci is just unfathomable. And, you know, I don't know what to think."

Bee staff writer Jeff Jardine contributed to this story.

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