Renewed widespread interest in the captivating tragedy of Laci Peterson’s death and subsequent 2004 trial of her husband, Scott, is prompting the re-release of video interviews with key figures conducted by The Modesto Bee in 2007, five years after Laci disappeared.
The videos feature compelling, sometimes emotional conversations with Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, as she discusses topics ranging from her daughter’s upbringing and murder when eight months pregnant, to Rocha’s thoughts on her son-in-law, his family and the death penalty. Several can be viewed at modbee.com, with more appearing in coming weeks.
For a five-year retrospective package, The Bee in 2007 conducted hours of interviews with Rocha, groups of jurors, prosecutor Birgit Fladager and Karen Servas, the Petersons’ next-door neighbor, and produced 42 clips. Video was a relatively new medium for newspapers at the time and the clips, while intriguing, soon were all but lost to memory.
Tuesday’s premiere of A&E Network’s “The Murder of Laci Peterson” kicked off the first of a six-part series and featured parts of the Rocha and Servas videos.
For example, in one archived clip, Rocha reflected on Scott Peterson’s mother, Jackie, who since has died. Rocha said, “If it was my child, that would be extremely difficult to deal with. But he’s not my child. He murdered my child. So as far as I’m concerned, he’s where he needs to be.”
The A&E production appears to be the longest broadcast project of many to date on the riveting case that began when Laci vanished Christmas Eve 2002. Her husband said he had been fishing in San Francisco Bay and came home to an empty house, and thousands joined in unsuccessful searches.
The already-gripping story went viral when Fresno massage therapist Amber Frey came forward about her romance with Scott Peterson, and he was arrested shortly after the bodies of mother and fetus washed ashore in the bay. He was convicted of double murder and arrived on death row in March 2005. He awaits appeals.
The state attorney general’s office only last week submitted a 150-page response to one of the appeals, saying Scott selfishly killed Laci and should not get a new trial.
The case spawned some two dozen books, various documentaries and a few made-for-TV movies, most around the time of the trial.
Scott Peterson’s appeals, winding toward a showdown at the California Supreme Court, seemed to have sparked a new surge of interest. Recent productions include:
▪ “Snapped,” Oxygen, May
▪ “Dateline NBC”, April
▪ “The Dr. Oz Show”, February
▪ “Trial By Fury,” a full-length documentary never released publicly, 2016
▪ “Murder Made Me Famous,” REELZ, 2015
In her Dec. 11, 2007 Bee interview, Rocha reflected on emotional difficulty at Christmastime, the lengthy 2004 trial, which she attended religiously, her meetings with jurors afterward, and her sense of loss.
“I miss everything about (Laci),” Rocha said in one clip. “It just changes your life totally and completely. There is nothing about my life that is like it was before. Even though it’s been almost five years, it still feels as though it was just yesterday.
“It changes, but it doesn’t go away. There are many times that it seems like forever since I’ve seen Laci. I’ve gone through a day and think, `Wow, I finally didn't cry today.’ But it wasn’t that I didn’t think about her, because I always do. There is always something that makes me think about Laci.”
“It’s sad you have to visit your child at a cemetery, that anybody should have to do that. (I go there) just to have a little peace, many times, when I find myself getting really, really upset about what has happened. It seems a little odd, but it’s almost as if she’s saying, `Mom, it’s time to go out to visit me.’ If I go out there, for some reason, it calms me down and I feel much better afterward. That’s my therapy.”
“I don’t think the wound ever closes. The word closure means nothing to me. It’s just a word because nothing closes, nothing ends because Laci’s gone, so that is never going to come to an end. I miss her as much today as I did at the very beginning. She should be here with us. She should be here with her son.”
Check modbee.com periodically as The Bee adds more Peterson video clips from 2007.