Peterson: Disappearance & Arrest

April 23, 2003

Readers react to Laci Peterson case

Reserve judgment

The hearts of people all over this planet went out to Laci Peterson's family during the search, and subsequently the finding and identifying of her and baby Conner's bodies. Great love, compassion, hope and ultimately sorrow have been expressed; most of us are grateful we aren't in their shoes.

None of us would choose to trade places with the family, but we ourselves (the general public and the media) have perhaps an even greater burden to bear than the pain and anguish born by Laci's surviving family.

We have the burden of remaining without prejudice toward Scott Peterson until it is proven in a court of law, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is responsible for the deaths of his wife and son.

While we support and cheer for our soldiers overseas, who we say are fighting for freedom, let us not forget the enormous responsibility that goes hand in hand with freedom.

Our justice system says a person is innocent until proven guilty, and that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted.

Just because Scott Peterson was arrested does not mean he is guilty, any more than his claim of innocence means he didn't do it. There are many things we don't know about the case, and won't know until the trial -- so reserve judgment until the facts are in.


Los Banos

Why have an affair?

I listened to the Peterson parents' interview on MSNBC and I have one question: If Scott loved his wife so much, as they claim, why was he having an affair, and lying to Laci and his girlfriend?



Disgusted with officials

I am absolutely disgusted with the statements made by government officials on the Laci Peterson case. Scott Peterson has been tried and convicted already. Why don't you just take him out and shoot him? The police have been receiving some really bad marks lately from the general public. I think they are trying to get a slam-dunk with this one at the expense of both Laci's and Scott's families.



Confess, Scott

It's time for Scott Peterson to do the right thing. I implore him not to put his family, his wife's family and their many friends through the ordeal of a gruesome trial that many insiders are calling a "slam dunk" for conviction.

If Peterson has any respect for the family and friends of Laci, for the countless volunteers who combed local parks and fields in the dead of winter, for every merchant who displayed a missing poster to keep the case alive, for the many law enforcement officials who diverted huge amounts of manpower to this case, and finally for himself, then he should do the right thing. Confess. Apologize. And accept his punishment.



Accept responsibility

My heartfelt condolences to Laci Peterson's family at the sad outcome of finally finding Laci and Conner. My sympathy also goes to Scott Peterson's family. I understand that the Petersons want to believe in Scott because the alternative is just too horrible.

If Scott is indeed guilty, I would urge his family to get him to accept responsibility and let his wife and son rest in peace.


Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Legal inconsistencies

As Modesto residents currently living overseas in Ljubljana, Slovenia, we know if we hear about our hometown on European CNN, it's sad news. But does it seem odd to anyone else that baby Conner's death is a crime, while a "choice" to kill other babies in the womb is legal?

Let your outrage at these horrific murders also spur your compassion toward the hundreds of helpless unborn babies who will be killed in Modesto this year through abortion. Take a personal stand against abortion in your circle of relationships and support organizations in Modesto like the Modesto Pregnancy Center and adoption agencies like Bethany Services and Family Connections that make the difficult decision for life much easier.



Police do their job well

Kudos to the Modesto Police Department! Hopefully the other citizens of Modesto feel the same way that I do regarding the way that our police have handled themselves in the investigation of the Laci Peterson case. From the very beginning of the case till the current developments, they have handled this case very professionally. They kept the public well-informed and have done an exceptional job of handling the throngs of media that have had such a strong interest in this case.



Don't bet on death

Shame on our district attorney for his ill-mannered remarks printed in the April 17 Bee. His statement "If I were a betting man, I would put money on the fact that the body that was found was Laci Peterson" ("DA thinks it's Laci," Page A-1) was callous and completely without respect for the feelings of Laci's family.

One bets on the Super Bowl, not on whether or not a family will receive the most painful news of their lives. If I were a betting woman, I would put money on the fact that the people of Modesto will remember this insult to the Rocha family when we go to the polls. I am convinced that you owe Laci's family and Laci's memory more respect than that and an apology is called for!



Send him to Texas

I would like to express my condolences to the Laci Peterson family. I have never met them, but have followed this case by Internet site and television.

My sister in Houston called to tell me that the bodies had been positively identified. We were in tears! I am a nurse and any loss of life saddens me. This case is beyond sad. Anyone who murders a pregnant woman needs to be sentenced to death.

Maybe you can send him here to Texas ... he won't last long! Continued prayers for the Peterson family.


Port Neches, Texas

Was Scott framed?

Even though it seems that Scott Peterson has been convicted in the court of public opinion, I cannot help thinking that, as the news of his fishing trip on Dec. 24 was so well-publicized, if he were innocent and someone else guilty of his wife's murder, they may have used the bay to dispose of Laci Peterson's remains. That would implicate Scott, thus focusing the investigation away from themselves.


San Francisco

Exploiting tragedy

It is 6:48 p.m. on Friday, April 18, and I'm watching the news conference on Laci with Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden. Why is the chief exploiting this tragedy for 15 minutes on national TV? The chief is "happy" that Laci was found? The chief says Scott was arrested before the DNA match was made? Is this guy crazy? If I'm Scott's defense attorney, I'm loving this.

All Wasden should be saying is that he is sorry the case has come to this end and he is thankful for the help of all agencies and volunteers who tirelessly worked to try to find Laci. The end. Get off the stage.



In media hell

What is unfortunate is what is going to happen in the upcoming months and when this case heads to trial. Both Laci's family and the family of Scott Peterson will have to go through a second hell. I cannot imagine the media scrutiny, the stress, the near constant harassment of the paparazzi. I wish that all members of the media would hold themselves up to the same high standards as most reputable newspapers.


Bennington, Vt.

In a better place

Your tragic story about Laci Peterson and her baby has touched many hearts -- even here on the East Coast. We send our deepest condolences to Laci's family. It's so hard to comprehend the evil that exists in this world, but rest assured that Laci and Conner are in a much better and peaceful place.


York, Penn.

Praise for investigation

My experience as a law enforcement officer for 24 years, 15 of which were spent in criminal, internal and background investigations, led me to suspect Scott Peterson from the start.

Kudos to the Modesto Police Department, the awesome chief I saw at the news conference last night, the fantastic detectives working the case, the great forensic investigators, the district attorney's office and the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office and their investigators and criminologists. Too bad they didn't work the O.J. case!

God bless Laci's family for having the strength to endure this long, torturous ordeal. They will heal in time.


Retired corporal, Gainesville Police Department

Gainesville, Fla.

Redneck justice

From an outsider's perspective, it seems redneck justice has found a home in Modesto. Whether it be Gary Condit or Scott Peterson, the good people of Modesto are eager to line up and accuse these men of murder without a single scrap of evidence other than the fact that they were unfaithful to their wives.

I read that some 300 Modestans lined up to watch Scott Peterson arrive at your jail, shouting "murderer" and other epithets, while your clever peace officers allowed his booking to be partially taped and his mug shot to be displayed on an outside wall. I have seen numerous Modestans offer their hope to the media that Scott Peterson be executed, or that he "rot" in prison, but only after being mistreated (read raped) by other prisoners. As of this date, not a single scrap of evidence has been disclosed by investigators tying Laci Peterson's murder to her husband; why, then, are Modestans so anxious to convict? Guilty or not, Scott Peterson has no hope of a fair trial by your community's ilk.


Canoga Park

How do they know?

I am appalled at the news media and Scott Peterson's parents' news conference on Easter Sunday. Once again we hear that the police are to blame. All they have is circumstantial evidence. How can his parents know what evidence they have against their son?

My heart goes out to Laci's parents and friends. My prayers are for Laci and Conner and I hope they can rest in peace.


Towson, Md.

Wondering is over

God is good. First he brought the prisoners of war home and then he brought Laci and Conner home. Some people are happy and some are sad, but at least the sad ones do not have to wonder anymore.


Los Angeles

Mayor 'Sabotage'

I just saw Mayor Carmen "Sabotage" Sabatino on Fox News. He indicated that Scott Peterson could not get a fair trial in Modesto. How dare he! Open mouth, stick in your leg, mayor.

Well, at least this is your last term. We will make sure that the election is fair.



Plead insanity, Carmen

This letter is for the mayor of Modesto, Carmen Sabatino. I just watched you on Fox News, on Greta Van Susteren's show, and you said that you "did not believe that Scott Peterson could get a fair trial in Modesto."

Have you totally lost your mind? Holy cow! Thank God I live in Turlock and not Modesto! If you have that little faith in your city, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department and the court system, then it is time for Modesto to have a new mayor. You just made yourself the laughingstock of the country ... as if you already were not! Shame on you!



Why can't he afford it?

On April 21, Scott Peterson said that he cannot afford to hire an attorney. A public defender was appointed. What? We wonder why our state is a financial mess. Where's the $10,000 Scott had on him when he was arrested? What's he doing with the equity in his home and-or business?

Was that his Mercedes he was driving when arrested? Sell his two trucks and his boat. Why should we, the people, cover his costs?

I also heard it could be two years before this case comes to trial. We are expected to house, feed him and pay for his legal needs during all of this time? Where's his family? If his family and friends are so sure he's innocent, why don't they do some kind of fund raising for his legal costs?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think anyone takes responsibility financially or personally for themselves. Everyone is looking for the other guy to pay their way and it's a shame.



Why bother with a trial?

I, like most people, have been following the Laci Peterson case. Now that most of the circumstantial evidence points to Scott Peterson as the culprit of this heinous crime, I would like to know why we are even bothering to follow proper criminal procedures.

It seems to me that he has already been tried and convicted by the media and everyone else. Why bother wasting taxpayer money on the old adage "Innocent until proven guilty"?



It was obvious

Weights or no weights, it's obvious it was a murder and apparent from the first day that Scott Peterson was the suspect. Body or no body, he was going to be prosecuted.

They proceeded with the arrest warrant first, before the ID, because the police possessed common sense and concluded before the positive ID that it was Laci and Conner who washed ashore. Also, they took away his opportunity to flee.


Newbury Park

A very troubled man

Although our judicial system assumes innocence until guilt is proven, widespread public opinion already seems to have concluded which verdict Scott Peterson should receive.

Like so many others, I am deeply saddened by the events surrounding the disappearance of Laci Peterson and the recent recovery of her remains, along with those of her unborn child. Such loss can never be completely assuaged, no matter what the outcome of Scott Peterson's upcoming trial. I grieve for the friends and family members of both the Rochas and Petersons.

If it is shown in court that Scott Peterson's peculiar behavior during the entire ordeal was merely quirky reactions to the tragic events and he is acquitted, then I will be able to accept this. On the other hand, if through due process he is found guilty of this heinous crime, no punishment could possibly be handed down befitting it.

Whatever the jury's conclusion, I will remain completely befuddled by Scott's apparent lack of normal emotional expression during the extensive media coverage to date.

In spite of proven guilt or innocence, there is something terribly wrong with how Scott has behaved during the entire investigation. To me, he is a very troubled man, no matter what the final judicial outcome determines.



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