From the moment Laci Peterson, 27, was reported missing, investigators suspected that her then-30-year-old husband, Scott Peterson, was likely responsible.
But it took a little longer for Laci’s parents to believe that Scott — a man who had been part of their family for five years — could be capable of murdering Laci and their unborn child.True Crime and fighting for justice/Facebook
In a new documentary by ABC News, “Gone Girl. Truth & Lies: The Murder of Laci Peterson,” Laci’s mom said she didn’t suspect Scott at first.
According to People, Laci’s mom, Sharon Rocha, told ABC:
“That’s the last person you want to think had anything to do with the disappearance of your daughter — her husband. The person that was a member of your family, somebody that you loved and cared about, and thought he felt the same way about your daughter. And knowing how she felt about him.”
Yet there was a moment when she knew something seemed off about Scott and Laci’s apparently seamless marriage.
The last time Rocha saw her daughter, they were sitting together on the couch talking about the arrival of baby Conner. Laci was eight months pregnant at the time.
Rocha told ABC she remembers reaching over to touch her daughter’s pregnant belly. As noted by People:
“She and I were sitting side-by-side and Scott was sitting on the floor, and we were watching TV and she said the baby was kicking, so I put my hand on her stomach, because I’d never felt him kick.
I still didn’t feel him kick even when she said that. But she leaned over to me and she said, ‘Mom,’ she said ‘Scott doesn’t like to do this. I’ve asked him about, you know, feel my stomach when the baby kicks, and he never wants to touch my stomach.'”
It was surprising to Rocha that Scott wouldn’t be interested in his baby’s movements. She told ABC that it felt off to her at the time and has now become part of her daughter’s final memories:
“That really, really bothered me, and that was the last time I saw her.”
Rocha later learned during her daughter’s investigation that Scott was having an affair.
As previously reported by Dearly, Laci was reported missing on December 24, 2002. CNN reports that Laci was planning to attend her mom’s Christmas Eve dinner that evening. Rocha received a call from Scott, and he told them Laci was missing.
According to Rolling Stone, Scott told investigators that he left the house to go fishing around 10:00 a.m. and that his wife had left to walk the dog around the same time. Their dog was later found roaming around the neighborhood.
As the investigation continued, Scott refused several polygraph tests and never seemed interested in knowing how the case was going.
Four months later, Laci’s body washed ashore near Berkeley, California, three miles from where Scott claimed to have gone fishing. The Daily Mail reports that her unborn baby, Connor, was found a day earlier with a nylon rope around his neck.
When Scott was arrested for the murder, the Mail reports, police found that he was in possession of several cellphones, $15,000 in cash, sleeping pills, his brother’s ID, a dagger, and a gun. He also had a map to his mistress’s work and Viagra pills.
His mistress, a woman named Amber, told police that Scott had never mentioned he was married. Her story became a strong motive against the former husband.
Scott was convicted in 2004 and was sentenced to death by lethal injection. He has always maintained his innocence and is making a new appeal to overturn his conviction due to lack of DNA evidence.
As previously reported by Dearly, Scott Peterson recently spoke out for the first time since the conviction. He told an A&E documentary team that “the police failed to find my family.”
The Peterson family has backed Scott’s innocent plea from the beginning. But Laci’s family believes Scott murdered Laci and placed her in San Francisco Bay.
In 2007, Rocha told The Modesto Bee that she thought Scott deserved to be in prison:
“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.”
Since Laci passed away, her parents have been instrumental in the implementation of the Laci and Conner’s Law, a law to charge a separate crime for harming an unborn child.
Rocha’s full interview will be aired in the upcoming documentary ‘Truth and Lies: The Murder of Laci Peterson,” which is scheduled to air on September 14, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.