A heavy metal door clangs shut in the three-story Stanislaus County Jail. Scott Peterson buries his head in a blanket, afraid to let other inmates see him crying.
So goes life behind bars for one of the country's most notorious suspected killers, according to letters that Peterson sends various acquaintances, his dead wife's friend said Thursday.
"He makes references to memories of Laci," said Heather Richardson of Ventura County. She said she compared Peterson's letters to others that he apparently sent to friends in Stanislaus and Monterey counties -- and found nearly identical passages.
"It's a little irritating to us," said Richardson, who was maid of honor at Scott and Laci Peterson's 1997 wedding. Her husband, Mike, was best man. Scott Peterson took refuge from the media at the Richardsons' home in January as searchers looked for his missing wife.
"We were their best friends," Heather Richardson said, "and (Scott) doesn't have unique thoughts for us. He writes generally the same stuff to everybody."
A source said Peterson, a member of one of the Rotary Clubs in Modesto, wrote at least a half-dozen letters to "community leaders" about a week after his arrest April 18. All contained similar wording expressing desire to continue friendships after his "exoneration," the source said.
Peterson avoids writing in detail about the double-murder case against him, Richardson said.
"He never says, 'I didn't do this,' but it's inconceivable in his mind that he had anything to do with it," Richardson said Thursday.
"It's kind of cryptic, as far as I'm concerned," she continued. "It's not exactly what you'd expect from someone facing what he is. It's like he is not realizing the reality of the situation he's in."
Peterson faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering his wife and their son, Conner.
A long-awaited preliminary hearing got under way Wednesday and is expected to continue through most of next week.
"In an upcoming forum, you will be able to see the evidence my team has put together," Peterson once wrote, Richardson said. She said she assumed he referred to the preliminary hearing.
A branch of the Simi Valley fire this week burned to the Richardsons' property in Fillmore, she said, but did not reach the house.
"Good or bad, it's nice to be preoccupied down here so (the hearing) is not always everything I think about," Richardson said. "At this point, we're just waiting to hear all the evidence."
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.