Laci's Family Steps up Criticism of Scott


Posted: February 5, 2003 at 6:29 p.m.
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) -- Family members of missing woman Laci Rocha Peterson stepped up their criticism of her husband Wednesday, saying he sold his pregnant wife's car and considered selling the couple's house.

The in-laws who once rallied behind Scott Peterson have now turned on him and Laci Peterson's stepfather, Ron Grantski, called on him to "end this circus."

Grantski, a Modesto construction worker, said the family learned that Peterson had sold his wife's 1996 Land Rover when they saw it was replaced with a new pickup truck in the couple's driveway. The dealer returned the vehicle to the family Tuesday.

"I found it hard to understand a lot of things Scott has done, so why should this be any different," Grantski said. "He has said since the first night he wanted the focus on finding Laci, not on him. Well, with the things he's been doing and saying the focus is all on him. You want to change the focus, Scott, talk to the Modesto police. End this circus."

The latest development adds to public scrutiny of Scott Peterson after revelations he had an affair shortly before his wife vanished on Christmas Eve. Modesto Police have questioned Peterson extensively, but they have not named him a suspect or ruled him out.

Grantski said his family learned that Scott Peterson had looked into selling the couple's jointly owned house. He did not say where they learned that information.

Stanislaus County records show the couple paid $177,000 for the house in October 2000. Laci Peterson, 27, vanished nearly six weeks ago, setting off a massive hunt. She was due to deliver the couple's first child, a baby boy to be named Connor, on Feb. 10.

Scott Peterson told authorities he went fishing at the Berkeley Marina the day his wife disappeared.

Modesto Police used a search warrant to seize his truck, 14-foot boat and trailer on Dec. 26.

"We're not through with the truck or the boat, said Doug Ridenour, the Modesto police spokesman. "We'll keep it as long as we need to."

Police also seized the Land Rover, but it was later returned.

The news conference in La Loma Park was the family's first public appearance since a tearful Jan. 24 event marking the one-month anniversary of her disappearance. Then, following emotional pleas "to help bring Laci home," the family said Scott Peterson had lied to them and broken off contact.

Peterson, 30, a specialty fertilizer salesman married nearly five years to Laci Peterson, did not attend the event Wednesday.

After denying allegations of an affair as a "pack of lies," Peterson said last month that he had cheated on his wife after she was more than six months pregnant. He acknowledged the relationship only after Amber Frey, 28, of Fresno told reporters she began a romance on Nov. 20 with Peterson, who said he was single. Frey said she called police after news of Laci Peterson's disappearance.

Peterson could not immediately be reached by phone or at home.

A note on the couple's door from Laci Peterson's yoga instructor asked Scott Peterson to return an album of designs she lent his wife for their nursery.

"I hate to bother you at this awful time, but I need to get the album back," said the note, signed by "Debbie W."

Scott Peterson's family members in San Diego also didn't immediately return calls from The Associated Press.

Police continue to search for the missing woman on land and water, Ridenour said. The family announced new volunteer searches beginning Saturday along the Delta-Mendota Canal in the western San Joaquin Valley.

Laci Peterson's family members also urged tipster to continue using a line established by Modesto police, rather than a new one funded by Scott Peterson's family.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)