'How I know Scott KILLED her'



'I LOOKED deep into his eyes. They were cold, dark and deadly - he gave me a look that was pure evil."

That's how Laci Peterson's distraught father, his voice trembling with emotion, describes the moment that chilled him to the bone during a meeting with her husband Scott.

It was the moment Dennis Rocha first came to believe that his son-in-law had murdered his beloved daughter Laci and unborn grandson Connor.

"I knew right then that Scott was responsible for Laci's disappearance," he says. "I knew he had done something to her. And he knew that I knew."

Recalling his meeting with Scott brings tears to the devastated dad's eyes. He admits that the crippling grief brought on by his beautiful daughter's grisly death is too much to bear and he often finds himself sobbing uncontrollably.

Dennis is revealing his innermost thoughts exclusively to GLOBE after the May 4 memorial service for Laci and Connor at the packed First Baptist Church in Modesto, Calif., on what would have been Laci's 28th birthday. The substitute teacher's headless, badly decomposed body washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay April 14, a day after the remains of her unborn baby boy were discovered less than two miles away.

Laci was last heard from on the evening of Dec.23, when she spoke with her mother Sharon by phone. Soft-spoken farmer Dennis describes how in desperation, on Dec. 26, he had asked for a meeting with Scott to discuss Laci's disappearance at the couple's Modesto home.

But instead of finding comfort in the presence of someone who also loved and panicked for the missing Laci, Dennis' blood ran cold when his long-held suspicions about Scott were confirmed.

"My gut instinct had told me something was not right with Scott," Dennis, 56, tells GLOBE. "I'd gone to their home so I could speak man to man with him. There were a lot of things that didn't add up."

He met Scott outside the house on the front lawn. "I wanted to know what the heck had been going on," he says. "I wanted answers.

"At the time, Scott was still lying about his affair with another woman and everyone else in the family was backing him. But not me. I'd never trusted Scott. He always seemed to be hiding a dark secret.

"I didn't offer to shake hands with him. I said I wanted to sit down and talk with him. He kind of shook his head as if he didn't want to face up to the truth. He told me to wait inside in the living room while he finished talking with some other people. You could tell he didn't want me to be there. He never mentioned Laci to me. He never said he missed her.

I said I'd wait a few minutes while he finished up. That's when our eyes met. His piercing stare sent a chill right through me. My heart was pounding and I felt sick to the core.

"There was absolutely no warmth from him at all. Nothing. No emotion. Just emptiness. It was a look of pure evil.

"He held my gaze for just two seconds, then quickly looked away. It was the longest two seconds of my life. But that was enough for me to know what was in his head."

Trembling with emotion and trying to hold back his rage, Dennis continues: "That's when I walked into the house to wait for Scott to talk with me. I waited. And waited. Scott never showed. After a few minutes that seemed like an eternity, I went outside to look for him. He wasn't there. He had bolted from the house without speaking with me.

"That showed me how much he cared about helping to find my pregnant daughter, the beautiful woman carrying his child. He didn't care at all - and my gut instinct told me this guy was a monster. A monster who had probably killed my daughter and grandson."

Slowly flexing his fists, Dennis adds, "I wish I'd belted him one right there. Now I've missed my chance."

Dennis believes a furious fight between Laci and Scott over his secret affair with 28-year-old Amber Frey led to his daughter's murder.

"Laci possibly found some love letters between Scott and Amber," he says. "That would have broken her heart into a million pieces.

"Laci wanted to be the perfect mother and wife. Marriage to her was for life. It was a commitment to cherish and be with someone forever. So she would have been devastated.

"Or perhaps Amber had called the house to speak with Scott.

"Whatever it was, I know for sure that my daughter wouldn't have stuck around with a cheating husband. She would have decided to leave because she couldn't bear to be with a man who lied to her face, especially when she was pregnant with their child - a child she had wanted to raise in a happy home with the perfect man.

" I suspect that Laci had told Scott she was going to split from him after Christmas or after she had given birth to Connor."

And between child support, alimony and a 50-50 split of the marital assets, a divorce would have cost the high-living Scott too much money, he notes.

"That would have impacted his lavish lifestyle, like his membership at an expensive country club where he played golf," Dennis Says. "He lived like he was a movie star - way beyond his means.

"Scott's behavior was so cold and calculating. I wouldn't be surprised if he had cheated on Laci before and thought he could get away with it again."

It's almost impossible to imagine why anyone would break the bright-eyed brunette's heart. Those close to Laci say she was always the life of the party, a dimpled dynamo with a gift for gab - so much so, she was affectionately dubbed Jabber Jaws.

Vivacious Laci also had a passion for gardening and entertaining and she'd joyfully set out to create perfect evenings for her guests, serving up a host of perfectly presented, elegant dishes. And she could whip up elaborate desserts with such ease that her girlfriends called her the Cake Lady and Martha Stewart.

Loving and gracious, Laci took time to bring old high-school friends together, rekindling the friendships with sleepovers like they used to have, complete with gossip and guy talk. The pals would get manicures done together or enjoy a night of wine-tasting.

And when it seemed she'd been granted her deepest desire - to become a mother - Laci did all she could to ensure a healthy baby, including taking prenatal yoga classes.

But none of that was enough for coldhearted Scott, says Dennis, who cherishes the memories of his delightful little girl in her cheerleading uniform or chasing chickens with friends at his ranch.

"I'm sure that guy never knew how to show affection," fumes Dennis. "He never seemed that warm to Laci. I rarely saw him hugging or kissing her."

Now, 30-year-old Scott is living in the cold quarters of a jail cell, awaiting trial for capital murder. He was arrested April 18 at a golf course near San Diego, carrying $10,000 and his brother's identification.

"My greatest fear is we will never know what really happened," says Dennis. "One of the witnesses is lying through his teeth. The other is dead."


May 2003