Scott Peterson got fed up with Modesto and moved out of state.
No, not that Scott Peterson. The other one.
The one who is not facing the death penalty.
J. Scott Peterson, 56, goes by his middle name and many of his closest friends do not even know that Scott is not his real first name. He came to Modesto with his wife and four children 19 years ago, but moved to Utah in late March.
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Peterson already had planned the move, but the timing was convenient -- because it freed him from mistaken identity.
Scott Lee Peterson, 30, is in Stanislaus County Jail, charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. Their bodies washed ashore in San Francisco Bay in mid-April.
Laci Peterson, then eight months pregnant, was reported missing Christmas Eve, and a massive manhunt followed. Soon her husband became a focus of intense speculation about his alleged role in her disappearance. His arrest came April 18.
Before he went to jail, people did not hesitate to call him. His number and his Covena Avenue address are in the book.
The "other" Scott Peterson is listed next, and he got calls, too. A lot of them.
"Most of the people were calling to say, 'How did it feel to kill your wife?'" J. Scott Peterson said from Utah. "One guy said he was keeping me in his prayers.
"Penny (my wife) took a call from a psychic out of Canada. I said, 'Gee, you're not much of a psychic if you didn't know this is the wrong number.'"
It was not the first time that J. Scott Peterson was mistaken for someone else. Two or three years ago, he said, he got calls from collection agencies for debts rung up by someone else.
Those calls went away soon after they started. The calls after Christmas became more intense as the Laci Peterson disappearance began to capture public imagination.
"It was flabbergasting to me that I would get so many calls," Peterson said. "I couldn't understand what would possess them to call. I would say, 'Why would (Scott Lee Peterson) want to talk to you?'"
Charles Manson, who lives in a city very near Modesto, knows the feeling -- and he has an unlisted number. His life has not been the same since the cult leader and mass murderer of the same name captured headlines in 1969.
Manson said he could not escape disturbing phone calls even after moving from California to Texas, so he eventually moved back.
Of the "other" Scott Peterson, Manson said, "I imagine he's getting all kinds of troubles. I understand what he went through."
Bonnie and Clyde Mello of Modesto, on the other hand, never suffered for sharing names with the infamous robbers who went on a crime spree in 1932 and 1933.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow killed a dozen people, and were gunned down themselves in 1934. They had become pseudo-folk heroes by the time the Mellos married in 1941.
Modesto's Bonnie and Clyde had fun with the image, posing with toy submachine guns in front of a Model A Ford for pictures kept in their home.
J. Scott Peterson said he jokes about moving from Modesto to escape the negative attention. But he and his wife had tired of California long before, he said, and opted for Lehi, Utah, where they bought a home for about half the price of one here.
He said he misses the San Francisco Giants and three children who remain in Modesto -- they have a fourth in another state and seven grandchildren altogether. But they have no desire to return to the constant calls meant for a murder suspect.
"It's amazing to me that people would call," Peterson said. "But if that's the worst thing that happens to me, I'll be in pretty good shape."
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or email@example.com.