Peterson case waits on DNA tests

Relatives face wait of days or weeks

Wednesday, April 16, 2003 Posted: 4:19 PM EDT (2019 GMT)
MODESTO, California (CNN) -- DNA tests are to be carried out on two bodies found in the San Francisco Bay area, but police said Tuesday it could be several weeks before they will know if the bodies are Laci Peterson and her son.

The two bodies -- an adult woman and a baby boy -- washed ashore at Point Isabel Regional Park, in Richmond, California, about 80 miles northwest of Modesto, where Peterson lived with her husband Scott.

Peterson disappeared December 24, sparking a huge search. A homicide investigation was launched three weeks after her February 10 due date, when she was expected to give birth to a boy already named Connor.

Detective Doug Ridenour, spokesman for Modesto police, said: "It will take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to get (DNA) results."

Family spokeswoman Kim Petersen told a news conference: "If this turns out to be Laci, we want the animal responsible for this heinous act to pay. We believe if this is Laci, God has allowed her to be found."

An initial autopsy found no obvious cause of death, said coroner's office spokesman Jimmy Lee.

"It's a time-consuming process," Lee said, adding that an "alluviating" expert was being brought in to determine how long the remains were in the water.

Scott Peterson told police he was fishing alone on December 24 at Berkeley Marina, which is about 2 miles from where the woman's remains were found Monday by a passerby.

The Contra Costa County coroner's office is trying to determine if there is a relationship between the female and the infant.

Richmond Police Sgt. Enos Johnson said the woman's remains were "skeletal," and said the coroner had already determined that the baby, found Sunday about a mile-and-a-quarter north of the woman's body, was full-term and a boy.

The woman's body "was laying inshore and looked like it had been washed ashore by the tides," Johnson said.

The coroner is also trying to determine whether a bone found Monday in the marina area by a local resident is linked to the remains.

Chief Norman Lapera of the East Bay Regional Parks Police Department described the woman's remains, saying only that the corpse was "a badly decomposed body settled among the rocks."

 thought "it was prudent to notify the Modesto police department."

Using expensive sonar equipment, authorities have searched the area between the Berkeley Marina and Richmond several times over the past four months.

Investigators have twice searched the Petersons' home, and impounded Scott's car and boat shortly after Laci's disappearance. Police have not called Scott Peterson a suspect in the case.

Last week, a judge ordered search warrants in the case to remain sealed because they are said to contain potentially damaging information that could be used in a double homicide trial, in which the death penalty could be attached.

Scott Peterson has acknowledged, since his wife's disappearance, that he was having an affair with another woman at the time.

He told police he last saw his wife -- who was 27 at the time -- at home in Modesto just before departing on his solo fishing trip.

He said Laci had told him she planned to take the dog for a walk. The dog was later found by a neighbor running around the streets dragging its leash. The neighbor put the dog in the Petersons' back yard.

Scott has not been seen in the Modesto area for several weeks. His attorney, Kirk McAllister, said Scott is "very concerned and broken up at the prospect that (the body) may be his wife."

McAllister said his client's whereabouts are "not relevant." Scott's mother released a statement saying her family is hopeful that the body is not Laci.

CNN Correspondent Rusty Dornin contributed to this report.