Karen Servas Timeline Fact Sheet

Karen Servas lived directly south of Scott and Laci Peterson at 517 Covena Avenue. On the morning of December 24, 2002, as she backed out of her driveway, she found the Peterson’s dog, McKenzie, in the street with his leash attached. She parked her car, returned McKenzie to the Peterson’s back yard and closed the gate. She returned home to wash her hands, then got back in her car and left to do her errands.

Verifying the Timeline

Servas spoke first to Detective Brocchini of the Modesto Police Department on the evening of December 24. There are no details about this conversation in trial testimony. On the morning of December 25, around 11:30 a.m., Servas was interviewed by Detective Jon Buehler. She told him that she found the dog around 10:30 a.m.

On December 28, Servas found a store receipt in her jeans pocket as she was doing her laundry, and she sent Detective Buehler a note about this dated January 3, 2003. On the basis of this receipt, she reconstructed her timeline and said that she found McKenzie at 10:18 a.m.

To verify her story, Servas provided a faded receipt from Austin’s Christmas store for 10:34 a.m. on December 24 and the record of a cell phone call made at 10:37 a.m. She did not provide a record for a transaction she made at the Bank of America at 10:53 a.m.

Impact on the Case

Servas’ timeline was crucial to the prosecution’s case. On the basis of her timeline, the MPD discredited a connection between the burglary at Rudy and Susan Medina’s house (516 Covena) and failed to investigate numerous sightings of Laci Peterson walking her dog in the Covena neighborhood on the morning of December 24. Rick Distaso used Servas’ timeline as the reason for omitting all possibilities that someone other than Scott had committed this crime.

Karen [Servas] finds the dog at 10:18. So we're talking about, if he left at 10:08, as his cell phone records show, not as he told us, we're talking a 10-minute time window when Laci Peterson must have finished mopping the floor, changed her clothes, gotten -- gotten the dog together, gone on a walk, gotten far enough away where then she got abducted and had time for the dog to come back. All of these things were impossible. If those things are impossible, then this man murdered Laci Peterson.

And Judge Delucchi used her timeline to discredit the Aponte tip and to deny Defense Motion for a New Trial.

Court Records




Media Coverage

(Modesto Bee; December 28, 2002)

Karen Servas, the couple's next-door neighbor, said she was pulling out of her driveway about 10:30 a.m. the day Laci Peterson disappeared and found the retriever standing in the street. As she led him back to her neighbor's house, she saw the side gate open and figured he had just wandered out as he had previously.

(Modesto Bee; May 2, 2002)
The YMCA of Stanislaus County, one of the largest nonprofit service organizations in the county, got a new executive officer and a new development officer Wednesday. ..Steve Smith, vice president of client services for the Modesto-based Stanislaus County Economic Development Corp., took over the top spot at the Y. Smith is now interim president of SCEDCO...Karen Servas, who has been the Y's chief executive officer for eight years, will serve as chief development officer . . .

PWC Analysis

Karen Servas timeline is based on invalid time sources and unverified information.  There is no evidence to confirm that she found the Peterson’s dog at 10:18 a.m. on December 24, 2002.

Karen Servas timeline is not believable because she is an unreliable witness.  Examples of her inattention to detail regarding time show that her testimony is questionable.

The leash was collected during the Search Warrant of December 26-27.  Pin Kyo, the CA DOJ criminalist who examined it  found nothing on the leash of evidentiary value.