No strong leads in search for missing woman

Monday, December 30, 2002 Posted: 10:23 PM EST (0323 GMT)

MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Authorities searching for a missing pregnant woman said Monday they were checking 500 tips, but so far there were no strong leads about where Laci Peterson may be.

The reward for finding the 27-year-old, who has been missing almost a week, is $500,000.

Peterson, who is 8 months pregnant, was reported last seen Christmas Eve walking her dog in a park near her Modesto home.

Her husband, Scott, said he was gone for the day on a fishing trip 85 miles away. He reported his wife missing after he returned home that night.

A neighbor found the dog earlier in the day with the leash still attached, police said.

Authorities have searched the couple's home, their vehicles, and Scott Peterson's business and boat, though police said he was not considered a suspect.

"We're not eliminating any possibilities," said Detective Doug Ridenour, a spokesman for the Modesto Police Department.

Reports said police obtained a boat launch receipt showing Scott Peterson was in fact on the fishing trip when his wife disappeared. Ridenour confirmed police have a receipt, but he did not offer details.

Ron Grantski, Laci's stepfather, said Scott Peterson is "a good man. He's always treated our daughter like a lady."

Authorities have searched everything from vacant homes to nearby ponds and have expanded their search to incorporate a wide surrounding area.

At least two people have reported spotting Peterson on Christmas Eve after her walk with her dog -- one in a store, the other in a park. But Ridenour said that based on the descriptions "we're not sure it was her."

Police have obtained surveillance video from the store where Peterson was reportedly seen and were examining it, Ridenour said.

They have also contacted 155 registered sex offenders in the area.

"Laci did not have the profile of a person who would voluntarily leave," Ridenour said at a news conference Monday. "That is frustrating because it shows credibility that we have a victim here."

Family members and an anonymous donor created a reward fund of $125,000. A second anonymous donor has raised the total to $500,000.

Numerous volunteers have joined in the search, among them Joseph McDonald. "It's just the right thing to do -- to help people," McDonald said, noting he realized the same thing could happen to his daughter, mother or sister.

At Monday's news conference, Sharon Rocha, Peterson's mother, asked the public for continued support.

"We need your help to find Laci. We're still looking for Laci. She's coming home alive. We need all the help we can get," Rocha said. "We want her and our grandchild back."

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Tuesday, one week after her disappearance.