woman' comes forward
Laci Peterson's family speaks out on her husband
- Stacy Finz,
Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, January 25, 2003
One month after a pregnant Modesto woman vanished, a tearful 28-year- old woman stepped forward Friday night to admit that she had carried on an affair with the missing woman's husband.
Amber Frey's public admission during a hasty press conference came just hours after Laci Peterson's family openly turned on her husband, Scott Peterson, and said he was no longer communicating with them.
It also deepened the suspicion that has swirled around Scott Peterson since his 27-year-old wife disappeared Dec. 24. Modesto police have not called Scott Peterson a suspect, but they say they haven't ruled him out either.
But many in Modesto have suspected Peterson in the wake of rumors that he'd had an extramarital affair. Those rumors were confirmed by Frey, who said she had met Scott Peterson on Nov. 20.
"I was introduced to him and told he was unmarried," she said, choking back tears. "Scott told me he wasn't married. We began a relationship."
Frey, who has a 23-month-old child, said she had notified Modesto police of the affair when she discovered Scott Peterson was Laci Peterson's husband.
Neither Scott Peterson nor his attorney could be reached for comment. But his sister-in-law Janey Peterson defended him during a series of evening calls to national television networks.
"There is absolutely no way Scott had anything to do with Laci's disappearance," she told CNN's Connie Chung on Friday before Frey's admission.
Janey Peterson said she was unaware of any affair, "and frankly, it wouldn't matter. It's a distraction from what our primary focus needs to be, and that's to bring Laci home."
Frey spoke for just a few minutes before rushing from the room. Police called Frey's admission courageous and said she was not a suspect in the case. They would not discuss the case further and refused to say what Frey had told them and whether it had advanced their investigation.
Frey's admission seems sure to further undermine Scott Peterson's credibility, which Laci Peterson's family questioned earlier Friday.
"I would like Scott to know that I trusted him and stood by him in the initial phases of my sister's disappearance," Laci Peterson's brother, Brent Rocha, said during the family's emotional press conference at the Red Lion Hotel in Modesto. "However, Scott has not been forthcoming with information regarding my sister's disappearance, and I am only left to question what else he may be hiding.
"Since Scott is no longer communicating with anyone in Laci's family, and because we have so many questions that he has not answered, I am no longer supporting him."
Rocha said that during a phone conversation with Scott Peterson on Jan. 16, his brother-in-law had admitted having an extramarital affair with a Fresno woman.
A day earlier, police had shown the family photographs of Scott Peterson with a woman, hoping to soften the blow of an upcoming National Enquirer story that alleged an affair with the woman, a family spokeswoman said.
After seeing the photos, Rocha confronted his brother-in-law and said that Peterson had admitted to having such a relationship.
Scott Peterson could not be reached for comment. He has reportedly traveled to San Diego, where he has relatives, to pass out flyers asking for any information that could lead to the recovery of his missing wife.
"Since Christmas Eve, our one and only focus is to find Laci and to bring her home to us," said Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha. "I miss her every minute of every day. I miss listening to the excitement in her voice when she talks to me about her baby. I miss listening to her talk about her future with her husband and her baby. There are no words that can possibly describe the ache in my heart or the emptiness in my life.
"I know that someone knows where Laci is. I'm pleading with you to please, please let her come home. You can send an anonymous letter to the police department, or make an anonymous phone call."
Laci Peterson is due to give birth on Feb. 10.
Amy Rocha, the missing woman's sister, choked out the first few words of her written statement before breaking down.
Her written words plead for her sister's husband to cooperate with police and "tell them everything he knows."
Like her brother, Amy Rocha trusted Scott Peterson at first, according to the statement. However, she wrote, "I now believe that he has lied to our family."
The family read statements but declined to answer questions. Nonetheless,
the family members' pain and frustration were clear. One relative spoke to Laci directly.
"The last month has been the most disturbing and emotional time of my life, " said Brent Rocha. "As your older brother, I only wish that I had the opportunity to be there to defend you from the person that decided to take you away from me."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. / E-mail Stacy Finz at email@example.com.