Moved by the Laci Peterson story, two songwriters 77 miles apart independently produced musical tributes to the slain Modesto woman and her unborn son, Conner.
Although they do not know each other, both musicians said they were inspired by media reports of a May 4 public memorial in Modesto attended by about 3,000 people. Both songs draw heavily on images of mother and child safe and happy in heaven.
"Everyone has been moved by the events as they unfold," said Tony Handy, 50, of Oakland. "As the story went on, I wanted to get more involved."
The same goes for John Strand, 51, of Escalon, who said he wishes that he had been moved before the memorial service.
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"You can't orchestrate inspiration," Strand said, "and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was inspired."
Strand's song, "Remembering Laci," is a piano ballad that can be heard on The Bee's Web site, modbee.com. Sprinkled throughout the piece are references to Conner and flowers.
"I feel it's a song of comfort," Strand said.
Handy described his song, "Straight to Heaven," as a pop tune with strains of jazz and soul. Part of the chorus says, "Gone straight to heaven, where princess angels live on."
Both men previously wrote musical tributes about other tragic events.
Strand, a guard at Deuel Vocational Institution near Tracy, composed "Song for America," a patriotic folk song, four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Handy, an activist who has worked for nonprofit agencies, once wrote a tune about a high school student killed in Los Angeles, his hometown, when a classmate's gun accidentally discharged at school.
"So much regarding Laci has been tragic, tragic, tragic," Handy said. "We need more uplifting things that can live on with her memory."
For inspiration, Handy said he often visits the Berkeley Marina, where Peterson's husband, Scott, has told Modesto police he went fishing the day his 27-year-old pregnant wife was reported missing.
The bodies of mother and child were recovered in mid-April at the water's edge near Richmond a few miles away.
Neither tribute mentions Scott Peterson, 30, who is in Stanislaus County Jail, charged with two counts of murder in the case and facing a possible death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty.
John Strand's "Remembering Laci" can be heard at www.modbee.com. Handy said his "Straight to Heaven" should be available soon.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.