Dr. Keith Ablow: Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson
by Linda Smith
When I sat down to read forensic psychiatrist Keith Ablow’s Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson, although I was firm in my belief in Scott’s innocence, part of me expected, or was prepared, to be persuaded that it was possible for someone like Scott (no history of violence, no childhood behavior problems, solid upbringing) to commit the horrible crime he had been convicted of. After all, this book was written by a DOCTOR. Surely (I thought) he would be more responsible about getting his facts straight than the former judge, Catherine Crier had been when writing her book. Although I was skeptical of his claim to be able to diagnose Scott without having spoken to him, I thought surely he would responsibly gather and provide solid evidence of his diagnosis and accusations. Instead, I was shocked and angered by what I read.
A Clear Case of Libel
In Chapter 1, Ablow writes,
After I began outlining the beginnings of my theory about Scott as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, I received hundreds of e-mails from viewers who said it helped them understand the truth about him for the first time. It made it possible for them to actually see into his soul. Anne Bird and Laci’s mother, Sharon, agreed. And other members of Scott Peterson’s family have since.
Sadly, the only theory/explanation that helped Sharon Rocha and others understand the “truth” about Scott is not a valid one. “Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson” is full of contradictions and false information. There is clearly an intentional misrepresentation of testimonies and distortion of the facts by Ablow to support this work of fiction that he passes off as an evaluation of Scott Peterson’s mind. He takes the kind words people used to describe Scott and twists them, to convince his readers that Scott was sociopathic, robotic, inhuman, “a dead man.” Ablow deliberately misquotes the works of the late psychiatrist John Bowlby to support his theory that Scott’s “perfect psychological storm” began in infancy, with his brief separation from his mother while hospitalized for pneumonia, causing him severe trauma, thus sending him on the path to becoming a “true psychopath and becoming “dehumanized.” Yes, Ablow not only calls Scott insane and a psychopath/sociopath, he diagnoses Scott as having a “dissociative disorder” and “antisocial personality disorder” – a “textbook case” without ever having spoken a word with Scott Peterson. By Ablow’s own admission, in the “Acknowledgments” of his book, no one with any true insight to Scott’s upbringing spoke to him, with the exception of Lee Peterson who only spoke to him “briefly.”
Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist and author had this to say regarding Ablow’s research and subsequent diagnosis of Scott (from the Modesto Bee):
Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist and author, said Ablow's secondhand diagnosis — without interviewing Peterson or reviewing any psychiatric history — is suspect at best. Those most likely to respond to his requests would be "a self-selected population" whose memories are tainted by the well-publicized case, Ramsland said.
On page 6, in the book’s Introduction, Ablow states:
This book is an extended version of what I would have told the jury as an expert witness had I been called to testify in the Scott Peterson murder trial.
This book is Dr. Keith Ablow’s unsolicited, expert opinion based on and supported with outright lies and other falsehoods and has published it for everyone to read, including potential jurors should Scott Peterson win an appeal. The unsupported accusations against Jackie and Lee Peterson are inexcusably defamatory. At the very least it is irresponsible and in my opinion is criminal. It is a clear case of libel:
LIBEL - Published material meeting three conditions: The material is defamatory either on its face or indirectly; The defamatory statement is about someone who is identifiable to one or more persons; and, The material must be distributed to someone other than the offended party; i.e. published; distinguished from slander.
The publisher of a libel is liable to be punished criminally by indictment or is subject to an action on the case by the party grieved. Both remedies may be pursued at the same time.
In most systems, statements need not be derogatory in themselves to be defamatory; it is generally enough that they portray the claimant in a false light, as by calling a prominent Democrat a Republican. They must however be untrue, although in many situations the untruth of a defamatory statement is presumed, so that the burden of proving it was true is thrown onto the publisher of the statement.
Ablow’s book is full of could have's and maybe’s. At times Ablow alludes to abuse and/or neglect of Scott by his parents, causing Scott’s “sociopathy”. Other times he is more direct with outright accusations. However, Ablow provides not a shred of evidence to support these allusions and accusations. Ablow not only suggests in his book that Jackie and Lee were emotionally absent parents but he even perversely insinuates that Scott was sexually abused by a woman growing up.
I could spend countless pages arguing Ablow’s probably's, maybe's and could have's, and point out how ridiculous it is for him to suggest that forcing a child to “eat foods he dislikes” or forcing “him to nap when he would prefer to play” are “myriad and subtle ways a mother can tell her son that he must cease to exist as a person, that his true self must essentially disappear.” However, that is not the objective of this editorial.
My objective is to show you the blatant lies and deceptions in this book. I am going to show you that Keith Ablow has deceived you by omitting pertinent information, misquoting people, providing triple hearsay that can be proven to be untrue by sworn testimony, and using the M.D. at the end of his name to mislead you into believing that Scott Peterson is a sociopath capable of murder.
Lee Peterson testified at Scott’s trial that when Scott was about 2 weeks old, he contracted pneumonia and needed to be hospitalized:
PAT HARRIS: Shortly after you brought Scott home did he end up contracting pneumonia?
LEE PETERSON: Yeah, he got sick after I think he was about two weeks old.
PAT HARRIS: What happened?
LEE PETERSON: It was pneumonia and we, of course took him to the hospital. And he was very ill. They had him in a, it was some kind of a chamber, a plastic chamber that controlled humidity and I think air pressure to a certain extent. They couldn't use much medications, he was such a small baby. And he was he was very risky. The doctor said, you know, this may not go so well, but he pulled out of it and he lived.
Ablow suggests that Scott’s brief hospital stay as an infant “had the capacity to permanently damage him psychologically” and quotes the late psychiatrist John Bowlby to support this theory.
Inside the Mind Of Scott Peterson - Chapter 6 – Page 39
Scott Peterson was born by cesarean section on October 24, 1972. While Lee Peterson gushes about Scott’s full head of hair and distinctive looks and beams when describing Scott’s siblings’ excitement as they gazed through a plate-glass window at their new, “shiny” baby brother, there were less happy moments.
Shortly after birth, Scott contracted pneumonia and needed to be separated from his mother. He was placed in a plastic chamber that delivered oxygen and controlled humidity and air pressure. His life was at risk.
Whether Jackie and Lee would be able to empathize with it or not, however, Scott’s early and sudden separation from his mother had the capacity to permanently damage him psychologically.
According to the famed late psychiatrist John Bowlby, infants suffer real trauma when removed from their mothers shortly after birth. They experience crashing waves of emotion, including periods of protest (experienced as intense anxiety), despair (experienced as grief and mourning), and then detachment and denial (as a defense against their feelings). And these waves of distress and helplessness can set the stage for lifelong difficulties attaching to others in meaningful, loving ways.
Researchers even believe that the roots of a sociopath’s twisted personality- including inability to appreciate the suffering of others, preoccupation with fantasy, and inability to plan for the future – can sometimes be traced to early, sudden separation between an infant and his or her mother.
As Bowlby writes in his landmark work,
States of anxiety and depression that occur during adult years, and also psychopathic [sociopathic] conditions, can…be linked in a systematic way to the states of anxiety, despair, and detachment…that are so readily engendered whenever a young child is separated for long [even for a few weeks as an infant] from his mother figure…Whereas during later life it is often extremely difficulty to trace how a person’s disturbed emotional state is related to his experiences, whether they be those of his current life or his past, during the early years of childhood the relationship between emotional state and current or recent experience is often crystal clear. In these trouble states of childhood, it is held, can be discerned the prototype of many a pathological condition of later years.
Many newborns, especially those born prematurely, need to spend time apart from their mothers shortly after birth. They don’t grow up to be killers.
Still, can we dismiss the connection between Scott Peterson being cleaved from his mother and him feeling nothing about cleaving his own son Conner from Laci?...
In Scott’s case, of course, no one need make the argument that his pneumonia and resulting isolation in a plastic chamber fully explains him dying spiritually and then only pretending to be alive and connected to other living beings.
The chances of Scott Peterson ever being encouraged to have real emotions, let alone vent them, was close to zero.
His separation from his mother – and, ultimately, from himself – was not to be just for the weeks following his birth. It was a life sentence.
First, let’s consider the above quote of John Bowlby – as Ablow states it:
Ablow is quoting from John Bowlby’s Separation Anxiety and Anger, pages 4 and 5. The quote is accurate – EXCEPT that Ablow has inserted the part I highlighted above “[even for a few weeks as an infant].” There is NOTHING in Bowlby’s book that suggests infants or other children are affected in a permanent, negative way by brief separations from their mothers (but ESPECIALLY NOT infants under the age of 7 months). In fact I find much information in Bowlby’s book to the contrary.
According to Bowlby, after “briefer separations” an infant’s attachment to his mother “emerges afresh” in just a few hours or days after being reunited with her. Bowlby also states in his book that responses to separation are not present at birth, instead they develop some time in the first year of life. He states that “how the responses of infants under seven months are best understood, and what their significance for an infant’s future development may be, is difficult to know.” He also states that it is “only after about seven months of age that the patterns that are the subject of this work are to be seen” and “the types of responses to separation with which we are concerned could hardly be expected in infants younger than those in whom they are seen.” Scott was two weeks old, a far cry, developmentally, from seven months of age or older.
All of the following quotes are from the same book by John Bowlby - Separation Anxiety and Anger -- and further prove that Ablow is grossly misrepresenting Bowlby's work:
There is reason to believe that after a very prolonged or repeated separation during the first three years of life detachment can persist indefinitely;… After briefer separations detachment gives way after a period lasting usually hours or days.
Nevertheless, provided the period of separation is not too prolonged, a child does not remain detached indefinitely. Sooner or later after being reunited with his mother his attachment to her emerges afresh.
Pages 52 – 53
The First Year
Since the responses to separation that are so unmistakable in infants of twelve months and older are not present at birth, it is clear that they must develop at some time during the first year of life. Unfortunately, studies designed to throw light on this development are few, and are confined to infants admitted to hospital. Nevertheless such evidence as is available is unambiguous. It is in keeping, moreover, with what is known about the development of attachment behaviour and about cognitive development generally.
In Chapter 15 of the earlier volume the steps by which, during the early months of life, an infant’s attachment behaviour gradually becomes focused on a discriminated and preferred attachment figure are described. Development can be summarized as follows: before sixteen weeks differentially directed responses are few in number and are seen only when methods of observation are sensitive; between sixteen and twenty-six weeks differentially directed responses are both more numerous and more apparent; and in the great majority of family infants of six months and over they are plain for all to see. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the full range of responses to separation described in earlier sections of this chapter is not seen before six or seven months of age.
Schaffer studied seventy-six infants of various ages under twelve months admitted to hospital: . . . Of the total, twenty-five were healthy infants admitted for elective surgery. While in hospital each child was observed during a two-hour session on each of the first three days. Infants were not only without mother but had very little social interaction with nurses.
The responses observed in these twenty-five healthy infants differed greatly according to the child’s age. The dividing-point was twenty-eight weeks. Of the sixteen aged twenty-nine weeks and over, all but one fretted piteously, exhibiting all the struggling, restlessness, and crying so typical of two-and three-year-olds. Of the nine aged twenty-eight weeks and under, by contrast, all but two (one of the exceptions was an infant already twenty-eight weeks of age) are reported to have accepted the situation without protest or fretting: only an unwonted and bewildered silence indicated their awareness of change.
Schaffer emphasizes that the shift from a bewildered response to active protest and fretting occurs suddenly and at full intensity at about twenty-eight weeks of age. Thus, of the sixteen infants aged between twenty-nine and fifty-one weeks, both the length of the period of fretting and the intensity of it were as great in those of seven and eight months as in those of eleven and twelve months.
Then on page 55:
How the responses of infants of under seven months are best understood, and what their significance for an infant’s future development may be, is difficult to know. It is plain, however that the responses of these younger infants to separation are very different at every phase from those of older ones, and that it is only after about seven months of age that the patterns that are the subject of this work are to be seen.
…..For reasons to do with cognitive development, therefore, the types of response to separation with which we are concerned could hardly be expected in infants younger than those in whom they are seen.
In addition to this – I found information in Bowlby’s book that contradicts the following statement made by Ablow (a prime example of many portions of Ablow’s book that read more like a fictitious horror novel rather than a book written by a respectable psychiatrist):
When life begins with a panic much like drowning, unable to bring enough air into your lungs, followed by isolation under a plastic dome, with the cold reality of masked nurses and doctors peering at you, their eyes filled with worry that you will die, your body pierced unpredictably and uncontrollably by needles, it should come as no surprise that you may wish to “disappear” psychologically from the earth, to crawl back inside the womb built hastily inside your own mind, defending against pain, denying all reality.
Page 99 of Bowlby’s Separation Anxiety and Anger:
Initially during infancy the responses in which we are interested consist of little more than startle, crying, and diffuse movements. Whether it is useful to term them fear is almost a matter of taste. Because during the first three months there is so little discriminated perception or organized movement Bronson (1968) suggest they are better termed ‘distress’. A little later, between the fourth and sixth months, a time when perceptual ability is developing, Bronson (in press) suggests it is useful to speak of an infant’s being ‘wary’.
During the second half of the first year, when perception becomes more discriminating and responses are better organized, the term fear is clearly appropriate….
Yet another situation that arouses fear, observable towards the end of the first year but not earlier, is when a baby uses current clues to anticipate something unpleasant. Levy (1951) describes the behaviour of babies of different ages when they catch sight of a doctor preparing to repeat an injection first given a few weeks earlier. Before eleven months of age only a very occasional infant was observed to react with fear. At ages eleven and twelve months, however, one-quarter of the sample did so. In such cases, it seems probable, learning from experience has occurred.
Neglected and Abused? or, Smothered and Idolized?
Ablow can’t seem to decide whether Scott was neglected by parents who were emotionally absent and abusive, exhibiting signs of having been sexually abused by a woman, shutting down his feelings to short-circuit unbearable pain, or if his mother and father loved him too much, smothering him, causing him to feel as if he could not live up to their expectations of him.
Ablow quotes John Bowlby as saying it is emotional neglect that is detrimental to a child.
His separation from his mother – and, ultimately, from himself – was not to be just for the weeks following his birth. It was a life sentence.
John Bowlby knew there were different kinds of separation. “Yet a further difficulty,” he wrote,
turns on the fact that a mother can be physically present but “emotionally” absent. What this means, of course, is that, although present in body, a mother may be unresponsive to her child’s desire for mothering. Such unresponsiveness can be due to many conditions….. – but, whatever its cause, so far as her child is concerned she is no better than half-present. Then again a mother can use threats to abandon a child as a means of disciplining him, a tactic that probably has an immeasurably greater pathogenic effect than is yet recognized.
Scott Peterson had been emotionally strangled, beginning in infancy. By the time he was a child, he was already well on his way to becoming a psychological cadaver, merely imitating a live person, everything genuine about him already buried under layer upon layer of denial. Having shut down his feelings in order to short-circuit unbearable pain, he could not resonate with anyone else’s pain.
Page 77 - 78:
It must be said that Scott’s behavior in bed would make perfect psychological sense if he had been sexually abused as a boy, especially by a woman . . .
. . . When and where, we cannot avoid asking, did Scott first learn to “moan like a girl”? Who first taught him?
I do not have a definitive answer, but while writing this book, I kept coming back to the question. And as a psychiatrist, I have learned that there must be a reason for that.
However Ablow seems to have to switch gears, since no one interviewed, not Anne Bird nor any of the anonymous relatives or sources “close to the family” talked of neglect or abuse. In fact they talked of just the opposite:
Anne Bird once observed, “I think Jackie treated Scott like a dress-up doll from day one, someone who could have the best manners of anyone, ever. Even when he was an adult, she would always smile at him, and you could just see her thinking, ‘He’s the perfect person.’
…Indeed, during his first year of life, Jackie carried Scott around so much that it became a family joke that his feet never touched the ground.
Additionally on page 48:
She quickly convinced him he was extraordinary, but that he was wholly owned and operated – by her. Without her adoring eyes, her ceaseless compliments, her reminders to him that he was the perfect person, he would be no one and have nothing. He would be worthless.
Another way a mother can alter reality and drain the life force from her child is to objectify him. Jackie Peterson called Scott Golden Boy, a clear sign that she expected him to be perfect for her, with no rough edges. Shiny.
“You could tell his mother had raised him right,” Putnat told me. “He was the ultimate gentleman, regal in a way. He was very, very mature and very polite. I never even heard him swear."
“They are very close,” Lauren said of Scott and his mother. “He was a mama’s boy. She literally worried if he would cut himself or scratch himself. She babied him.”
When mothers “baby” their sons in the way Lauren was describing it is another way of loving them to death. They are depriving them of learning to take care of themselves, suggesting to them again and again that some terrible end will come to them if they are not in constant contact with home, that the world is a dangerous, unpredictable place where even a nick or a scratch could be a calamity. Better to keep oneself safely under wraps, even if it feels like suffocating.
I feel compelled to point out that Anne Bird did not have any contact with the Petersons during Scott’s childhood. She did not meet her biological mother and half-siblings until Scott was in his 20’s. How she could have any insight into how Scott was raised is unbeknownst to me.
Fear of Abandonment
Ablow writes repeatedly that Scott lived in constant fear of being abandoned, because Jackie had given her first two children up for adoption. According to Ablow, this caused Scott to feel he had to be perfect:
Imagine who you might be today if you could truthfully begin your autobiography (as Scott Peterson could) this way:
I was born to a mother whose father had been murdered…. She put her first two children up for adoption, considered putting her third child up for adoption, and then had me….. She then brought me home to live with a man whose close relative has claimed he had no emotional insight into himself or anyone else and disliked having children around during his prior marriage. I knew from day one that if I caused these people any trouble whatsoever, I was as good as gone. I was afraid to think anything or feel anything, let alone say anything remotely negative. Hell, I was afraid to breathe. In a very real way, I was forced to suffocate myself to death…….
The chances of Scott Peterson ever being encouraged to have real emotions, let alone vent them, was close to zero.
Scott Peterson must have learned early on that being anything but the perfect child would not be tolerated by his parents. I believe he was in a perpetual state of unconscious panic that his mother (who had given away two other children and who had considered giving away her third) would abandon him and that his father would do nothing to save him.
His demise had begun the day he was born. He had never known any real love in the world . He had been sold a bill of goods by his mother and father that he was extremely special and worthy of adoration. He had only that thin myth to cushion him from the reality that they had never loved him at all, had never really cared to know who he even was, had kept him in constant terror of being discarded, convincing him utterly that clinging to life with them required burying himself.
The truth would never be enough for Scott Peterson, because it would always be rooted in the fear of abandonment and the pain of being dehumanized.
In Scott’s mind, every woman would forever be Jackie: a person he believed he needed to trick in order to get what he needed in the way of affection, a person who might abandon him at any time, a person who might secretly be plotting to destroy him.
He was simply doing what he had learned to do growing up. Possessed of the knowledge that he could be abandoned at any time, sensing that expressing any true feelings could lead him to lose the only people who said they loved him, “living” in a perpetual state of panic, he had learned to monitor every facial expression of his mother and father, the most subtle change in their tones of voice, any shift in their moods……
This, of course, was Scott Peterson’s earliest and deepest fear – that letting himself be known would result in his abandonment.
He had felt that terror with Jackie.
(Referring to when Scott was in the 5th grade)
Infected with suppressed rage that had been building for generations, convinced that he had to play dead to live with his parents, Scott Peterson’s soul was already under siege.
Another of Jackie’s relatives, who asked that I not identify her, told me, “Scott did everything to please his mother so he wouldn’t be thrown away…”
Maybe if Laci and Scott had been able to talk about what they really shared - innocence lost within the first year of life, the fear of being abandoned……they could have had the beginnings of a real love affair and a real marriage.
He (Scott) had been raised by a mother who had rid herself of two children and who had considered giving away a third….
A child who thinks he may be discarded, essentially left alone to die, will cling to anyone he can, even the person threatening to kill him.
Lest we forget, he had never cried for himself, despite having barely taken his first breath when his own destruction began.
A child’s response to parents who respond so negatively to his individuality and humanity will be to withdraw, to playact at being perfect, to hide his own instincts and fears and desires and dreams and likes and dislikes behind fortresslike walls. In order to gain their “love,” avoid rejection, and stay safe from their potential rage, he will literally kill himself emotionally.
However on page 90, he states that Scott did not find out about Anne and Don, the children Jackie had given up for adoption, until around the time when he met Laci – when Scott was in college; not a newborn, not a child, not a fifth-grader, but in college:
It was around the time Scott met Laci that he learned he had two siblings he’d never met. Jackie had never told him about Anne Bird or Don Chapman, the two children she had given up for adoption, even though Don had actually found her and met with her a year before.
If Scott did not find out about Anne and Don until he was in college, then the fear of abandonment that Ablow spends countless pages talking about was non-existent.
Another event in Scott’s life that Ablow claims caused him to fear he would be abandoned by his parents was a disagreement between his father and his brother Mark, leading to Mark being fired by Lee:
Mark Peterson, Lee’s son from his prior marriage, had learned the same harsh lesson about his father. The two worked for a time together in Lee’s San Diego Crating business. But when they disagreed about the business, Lee summarily fired him. “He didn’t just fire him, though,” Jennifer Peterson, Mark’s ex-wife told me. “He said very hurtful things to him. It was really as if he was talking to a complete stranger, firing some stranger he’d never met who’d been on the payroll a couple months or something.”
Scott was not about to let any such thing happen to him. He would never rebel, never disappoint. He would always be the good son, even if it killed him.
However Lee testified at Scott’s trial that he handed the business over to his two sons in approximately 1990, when Scott was 18 years old, not during Scott’s childhood:
HARRIS: So the first time you bought a house in Morro Bay in 1990?
HARRIS: And you moved there?
HARRIS: Was this a retirement?
PETERSON: Yes, I retired.
HARRIS: You turned over the crating company to whom?
PETERSON: My two sons. And after about two years the business wasn't doing so well so we had to move back to San Diego for about a year, 18 months to get it cranked back up again and during that period is when Scott moved up to Cuesta.
HARRIS: While you were back in San Diego?
PETERSON: Yeah. So he was living in the house and after about 18 months I went up there myself to Morro Bay, Jackie stayed in San Diego, to start this other crating company.
Scott's Demeanor in Court
Note all the references made to Scott's demeanor in court. Ablow describes Scott as “eerily stoic”, his lack of reaction being abnormal, a sign of his guilt.
Peterson himself sat emotionless as he received his death sentence.
He had remained eerily stoic while Conner's condition at autopsy was described in court.
How could he be thinking of the mundane when he was shackled, under arrest for the murder of his wife and unborn son? I know that jurors, Laci's family, and Scott's parents wondered the same thing as he sat, unmoved, when he had been found guilty and, later, when he was sentenced to death.
Scott did not shed a tear. Neither did his mother. His father wasn't even in court that day.
Scott did not react. Imagine if you were an innocent, normal man in the situation in which he found himself. You would be on your feet, screaming, crying, 'I didn't do it, Mom. You have to believe me! I loved her. I would never hurt her. I'd give my life for her.' But Scott Peterson wasn't even in that courtroom. Not really. He had all but taken his leave of this world before he ever met Laci, before he ever fathered Conner.
Scott Peterson sat stoically as the decision was read.
The emphasis put on Scott’s demeanor in court is very interesting, considering in my research of Dr. Ablow I found the following interview, where he discusses convicted killer David Westerfield. In this interview Ablow states that a defendant's demeanor in the courtroom means absolutely nothing - because expression of emotion is essentially prohibited and is a stilted [artificial, contrived] environment. Ablow discredits himself, completely contradicting the references he makes in his book to Scott’s demeanor and claim that they represent signs of his guilt and abnormality:
From courttv.com - an online chat with Dr. Keith Ablow regarding convicted killer David Westerfield, August 1, 2002:
Court TV Host: We're going to be talking about the trial of David Westerfield with forensic psychiatrist Keith Ablow. In addition to working as a psychiatrist, Ablow is also a writer of both non-fiction and fiction about the human mind. His newest novel, Compulsion, focuses on the investigation of a child's murder. Welcome, Dr. Ablow!
Keith Ablow: Thanks
Question from massviewer: How do you judge Westerfield's demeanor in the courtroom?
Question from Gale: Dr. - have you watched Mr. Westerfield's courtroom behavior - is there anything you can assess from that and his statement to the police that has been played?
Keith Ablow: Mr. Westerfield's behavior in the courtroom doesn't really tell me much. In general, I haven't found it very useful to look at that behavior because it's such a stilted environment where the expression of emotion is essentially prohibited.
It seems to me that television interviews would also be considered a “stilted environment”. However Chapter 29 of Ablow’s book is titled “Good Morning America”. As you can guess, he devotes this entire chapter to crucifying Scott over his responses during this interview as well as the one Scott did with Gloria Gomez.
Distortions and Misstatements of Fact
The following are examples of the distortions and misstatements in Ablow’s book, provided to support his theory/diagnosis. Pertinent information has been omitted, facts are misstated, some statements are blatant lies.
Ablow has various sources: media interviews, Anne Bird, as well as Catherine Crier’s “A Deadly Game” and Amber Frey’s book. It is important to point out, that in the case of libel it is up to the publisher to verify information provided by their sources. Re-printing false information is not (always) a valid defense when it comes to libel. Here are just a few examples of the distortions and falsehoods in his book.
1. The E-Mails
In Chapter 34, Ablow claims to have obtained copies of “e-mails” from Scott to his parents, written while Scott was incarcerated at the Stanislaus County Jail in July and September of 2003. Interestingly enough, Scott did not have access to e-mail at the county jail. If these are in fact letters from Scott to his parents, one would have to wonder just how Ablow obtained copies of these letters, as I am SURE Scott’s parents did not provide them to him.
2. Distortion of Positive Comments Regarding Scott
Ablow collected many media interview statements made by friends and acquaintances of Scott and his family. All were complimentary of Scott, describing him as “very kind”, “very genteel”, “respectful”, “dependable”, “well disciplined”, just to name a few. While reading Ablow’s interpretation of these statements, although I was outraged, his comments were downright laughable. Somehow Ablow is able to interpret Scott’s upbeat, positive outlook on life as abnormal absence of emotion and Scott’s even-temperament as “not real”. Those of you who are parents, brace yourselves. According to Ablow, if your college student is respectful, serious and does not challenge authority, he may be a sociopath.
After quoting Joann Farmer, a friend of Jackie Peterson’s during Scott’s boyhood as calling Scott “painfully shy” growing up, “reticent, stoic maybe” and then quoting Joan Pernicano, another friend of Jackie’s, as saying as a 5th grade school crossing guard, Scott “was very serious about his responsibility” and that Scott was “very nice, very kind, very genteel” “respectful” and “very close to his family” Ablow writes,
. . . unless you were to look beneath the shiny, golden surface, the façade of perfection, behind what the late psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley has called the “mask of sanity.” Because people do not abide their destruction with equanimity. They become slowly, quietly, increasingly paranoid, secretive, and very, very angry . . .
Infected with suppressed rage that had been building for generations, convinced that he had to play dead to live with his parents, Scott Peterson’s soul was already under siege.
Three decades after John Harvey Latham was killed without a struggle in his salvage yard, his grandson was quietly dying at home.
Pages 60 - 61:
Scott’s high school golf coach, Dave Thoennes, has described him as “dependable” and “well-disciplined.”
But, according to Thoennes, he was even more controlled than that. Thoennes told the San Francisco Chronicle, “He was very respectful. I don’t think I ever heard Scott use foul language. Some kids will hit a bad shot and go into all kinds of antics. Scott would hit a bad shot and go to the next one. I don’t think I ever saw him get out of control.”
“Especially in high school, a lot of guys would lose it on the golf course,” Scott’s former teammate Brian Tasto, now a San Diego dentist, has said. “I always thought Scott was real even-tempered.”
Never an obscenity. Never out of control. No emotion. Not real.
A mask of sanity.
“He [Scott] was a little bit reticent, stoic maybe,” Joan Pernicano, another friend of Jackie’s, said in an interview published in the San Francisco Chronicle. “My son bounced off the walls, but Scott wasn’t that way. He was quiet and polite. He’s a smiler, and when he smiles, his whole face lights up.”
He already had the perfect smile. He had learned that facial expression very well. He had it down pat.
The Petersons enrolled Scott in Junior Golf during grade school. His first tournament was at Presidio Hills in Old Town, San Diego. And although he got badly beaten, he showed no disappointment. In fact, he said he loved the experience.
How many little boys who perform poorly in a sport in front of a bunch of other little boys react stoically? How many say they loved being beaten? How many parents would consider that absence of emotion normal, even desirable?
As in high school, Scott kept his mask of sanity firmly in place. His professors at Cal Poly remember him as respectful and serious.
Jim Ahern, who taught agribusiness, told the Chronicle, “He seemed more mature than most. He was pleasant to deal with. I wouldn’t mind having a class full of Scott Petersons.”
No doubt. In a class of robots or puppets, there would be no horsing around, no difficult questions, no one looking bored, no one challenging authority, no one angry over the scoring of an exam. Everyone would “love” the subject material and compliment the teacher on his remarkable ability to make it come “alive.” Everybody would seem perfectly content – on the surface.
3. The Ultrasound
Ablow claims in his book, based on 3rd party hearsay, that at Scott’s request Laci had gone for a high-tech 3-D ultrasound procedure to check for birth defects, with plans to abort if any defects existed. He uses this, along with a comment Scott possibly may have made in jest (according to Rose Rocha’s testimony) when asked if he was ready for fatherhood and claims by Sharon Rocha that Laci was experiencing abdominal cramping prior to her disappearance, to suggest Scott had been trying to prevent Conner’s birth from the day he was conceived.
Sharon Rocha, Laci’s mother, confided in me that she wonders whether Scott had been trying to cause Laci to abort Conner before he killed her daughter. “I think he may have been trying to cause a miscarriage,” she said. “There were strange symptoms in the weeks before he murdered my daughter. And if he had achieved that, I wonder if Laci would still be here. Because if he could have gotten rid of the baby, he would have had the life he had before.”
… one of Laci’s friends named Renee Tomlinson reported a troubling conversation she had had with Scott and Laci’s friend Heather Richardson. Heather had told Renee that Laci had gone for a high-tech 3-D ultrasound procedure because Scott was extremely worried about the baby having any birth defect. The couple were prepared to abort Conner if problems were discovered. And it seemed to Heather that Scott was the one who had pushed both the ultrasound and the idea of terminating Laci's pregnancy in case of abnormal finding.
When Laci had first learned she was pregnant, Scott had told her sister-in-law, Rosemarie Rocha, “I was kind of hoping for infertility.” Now it seemed he had been hoping for an abortion. And Sharon Rocha had wondered whether Laci’s abdominal cramping during the weeks prior to her disappearance might have been due to Scott poisoning her to terminate her pregnancy.
It sounded like Scott had been campaigning to prevent Conner’s birth from the day the boy was conceived. Because, for him, birth had always equaled death…
Court testimony by Laci’s OB-Gyn, Dr. Tina Edraki, along with Laci’s medical records admitted as evidence at Scott’s trial, prove these allegations completely false.
Excerpts from Dr. Tina Edraki’s trial testimony (emphasis added):
EDRAKI: ….And at that visit she will get an ultrasound to determine the dates, and if they are accurate, you know, where you figure her due date.
HARRIS: Does it appear that Miss Peterson went through that process and was given an appointment to come in for the ultrasound?
HARRIS: And did she have her first ultrasound?
EDRAKI: Yes. That was on July 16th.
EDRAKI: Okay. She came in on August 20th for a routine appointment. She was 15 weeks and one day pregnant by her dates, and by the ultrasound that had been done. And routinely, at that time, we give them a lab slip for an AFP, so we had done that. We ask them if they are doing okay. She had some concerns. At that time she was feeling pressure in her lower abdomen or in the pelvic region, and she had other concerns, because she had had a prior surgery done on her cervix. Would you like me to elaborate on all of that?
HARRIS: Was Miss Peterson expressing a concern about being able to keep this child because of that?
HARRIS: And did you discuss it with her?
EDRAKI: Yes, I did.
HARRIS: Did you, in a sense, reassure her that she should be okay?
EDRAKI: Yeah. After evaluating her and doing, I did do an ultrasound at that appointment, but it wasn't for dating the fetus. It was determining whether her cervix was strong enough to keep the pregnancy.
HARRIS: From what your examination revealed, did she and the baby appear to be fine on the 20th?
EDRAKI: There is another ultrasound that's done at 20 weeks, around 19 to 21 weeks is a second ultrasound that's, for anatomy, making sure that the baby looks okay.
HARRIS: And was that done according to the medical record?
EDRAKI: On September 21st, yes.
HARRIS: Talking about the November 6th, when you, did you talk to Miss Peterson?
EDRAKI: According to the record, yes.
HARRIS: And what was the conversation about?
EDRAKI: She had called concerned about symptoms she was having when she walked. And these were symptoms of dizziness or lightheadedness. And according to my note, she was taking twenty minute walks, and when she walked she experienced these symptoms. And it happened two times, once on that day, and once the week prior. My recommendation at that time was either to not exercise because she was having those symptoms, or to exercise later in the day when she may have, you know, been more hydrated, or had eaten.
EDRAKI: According to the record she did on November 8th, two days later.
HARRIS: And does she have the same complaint at that point in time?
EDRAKI: It appears so. From the note it says CO, complains, and then SOB is short necessary of breath, with walking. And then the next part of that is denies sin syncope. Syncope is basically when you pass out. We call it syncope. So she wasn't complaining that she had passed out or blacked out. And self-care measures. And then it goes down to discussed the DIS. That's Cheryl Smith's signature, our Nurse Practitioner.
HARRIS: After the 6th and the 8th phone calls, did Miss Peterson come in shortly thereafter for another doctor's visit?
HARRIS: And that looks like in the next entry would be November 25th?
HARRIS: Does it appear that she had any complaints at that point in time?
EDRAKI: It says that she did complain of swelling in the hands. And I don't know if that's ankles.
In summary: two routine ultrasounds (July 16 and September 21), one ultrasound to check her cervix (August 20), and no complaints of any “strange symptoms” in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. As you can see, Laci had no hesitation in talking to her doctor about the symptoms she was experiencing. I have no doubt had Laci been experiencing abdominal cramping, she would have called her doctor and it would have been documented in her medical records.
4. Ablow's Theory of the Murder
Dr. Ablow offered this theory of how Scott murdered Laci:
As a forensic psychiatrist, I think the pieces of the puzzle fit together best this way. There is, of course, no way to definitively prove my theory:
The large mag light that Scott Peterson brought with him to Anne Bird’s house (and which later disappeared) was, quite possibly, the murder weapon. Scott no doubt had heard how his grandfather was killed in his salvage yard – struck with a length of rusty pipe. I believe that image never left him and directed his choice of what to use to initially render Laci unconscious – fifty-seven years later, very nearly to the day.
Given Scott’s history of being psychologically suffocated, along with Anne Bird’s report that he obsessively cleaned the pool at his home on more than one occasion after Laci went missing, it is possible that he struck Laci while she lounged in the pool to relieve the pain in her back (as was her habit in the later months of pregnancy), then held her under the water, drowning her. This would also be thematically consistent with his plan to eventually dispose of her body in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.
Water, of course, is powerfully connected to themes of both birth and death.
That’s a guess – my best guess – at how the crime took place.
He took Laci's body out of the pool and dragged it inside, where he dried it with towels.
I must first point out that this was the end of December. The prosecution in this case claimed Scott Peterson murdered his wife sometime between 8:30 p.m. December 23rd and 9:00 a.m. December 24th. The temperature in Modesto between 8:30 p.m. on the 23rd and 9:00 a.m. on the 24th never climbed above 38 degrees. Imagine Laci Peterson “lounging” in the unheated pool in 38 degree weather (or less). Ablow obviously chooses the pool as the place where Laci was murdered because of the lack of forensic evidence found in or at the house – nor was there any evidence of a clean-up. This is also why the prosecution claimed Laci was the victim of a “soft kill” – strangulation or smothering.
Dr. Ablow has obviously not thought through all of the implications of his claims. He has not brought them to their logical conclusion. This is a common problem for all of the theories of how, why and when Scott Peterson murdered his wife. This includes the prosecution’s theory. While on the surface, the theory sounds very good. But the details of the case inevitably poke holes in every guilty theory.
For example, here are just some of the problems with Ablow’s theory. In addition to the problem of the cold weather and the VERY unlikelihood that Laci would have been in that pool, given the conditions, I must ask, what was Laci wearing in the pool? Was she wearing her bathing suit? If so, did Scott redress her? After choosing what to dress her in, did he forget what he had chosen and tell the police she was last seen wearing something other than what he had dressed her in (Laci’s body was found wearing tan pants, Jockey panties and a brassiere - Scott told the police Laci was wearing black pants and a white shirt)? Where were all of these towels Scott would have needed to use to dry Laci’s body before dressing her? Did he take the time to wash, dry, fold them and put them away?
Let’s also consider the location of Laci’s rib fractures. According to Dr. Peterson, the breaks in Laci’s 5th and 6th ribs were on her left side, in line with the arm pit area.
Dr. Peterson’s preliminary hearing testimony:
Q. Now, if I could move over -- I was asking you before, and I didn't have the pictures handy, so I'll jump back to where I was before the break. The multiple rib fractures, your -- your ability to determine from the rib fractures what had -- whether they were antemortem, postmortem, perimortem was limited; is that a fair statement?
Q. Can you describe the rib fracture, what you've referred to in shorthand as "left 5"?
A. I'm referring to my report now.
A. And the sentence at the end of the second to the last paragraph simply reads, "There are lateral fractures of left ribs 5 and 6."
Q. Okay. Did you -- were you able to -- when you say "lateral," what do you mean by that?
A. Some were within the line of the armpit is what I call lateral. The front of the armpit is called the anterior axillary line. The back of the armpit's posterior, and anywhere between those two lines is lateral.
Q. Okay. Was there a way for you to determine whether or not the fracture appeared to be from one side to another, for instance? Was the -- where did you observe the fracture on the rib?
A. I'm not quite sure if I understand your question.
Q. Was there -- you said under the armpit, and I'm asking you if you can get more specific.
Q. You can't?
A. (Negative headshake.)
Q. How about to 6? Same?
A. Same thing. Same sentence.
As you can see from the diagram, these breaks were just below her armpit area. It seems Laci’s arms would have to have been raised over her head in order for Scott, 11 inches taller than Laci, to strike her in the armpit. Not bent at the elbows, but raised over her head. What position could Laci have possibly been in while in the pool to enable Scott to strike her in the ribs with such force as to break them? If the weapon was one similar to a mag flashlight, and the blow to Laci’s ribs came from someone sneaking up behind her, then the person who struck her was likely left-handed. A blow to Laci’s left side from behind would not have come from a right-handed person. A right-handed person would have had to swing in a back-hand type motion. Completely unnatural. A blow to Laci’s left side from a right handed person, would have had to have come from the front. Scott Peterson is right-handed. In order for Scott to strike Laci while she was in the pool, while facing her, he would have had to have gotten into the pool with her. Are we to believe that Laci, while facing Scott, held her hands over her head and allowed him to strike her with the flashlight? And where are the defensive wounds on Scott, that would have been caused by Laci clawing at his hands as he held her under the water (or under a pillow for that matter)? Contrary to popular belief, Scott did not have defensive wounds on his hands, arms or face – just one “small cut” on his index finger knuckle. A common occurrence for men who do any type of work around the house, warehouse, etc.:
Mark Geragos: Okay. And, specifically, at the time of this gunshot residue test that was taken, Scott Peterson had shown Detective Brocchini that he had a small cut on his right index middle knuckle; is that correct?
Craig Grogan: That’s correct.
Mark Geragos: And that he did not note any other injuries on Mr. Peterson; is that correct?
Craig Grogan: That’s correct.
Knocking Laci out first would have necessitated a forceful blow to the head (and probably more than one) and likely would have resulted in some type of blood spatter. Even the Modesto police department had thought this part through. This is exactly why they claimed Laci was the victim of a soft kill. However they never explained how Laci’s ribs could have been broken during this soft kill. In fact there was no explanation given at all regarding Laci’s broken ribs.
5. Feras (Mike) Almassari
For whatever reason (I assume to support his false claim that the prosecution proved Scott was a pathological liar), Ablow states that during a job interview with Feras Almassari, Scott told him several lies, embellishing his personal life and his position with Tradecorp.
On December 6, 2002, reality swept like a tidal wave into Scott Peterson’s life.
That day, Amber Frey’s friend Shawn Sibley mentioned Scott’s name to a colleague of hers, a man named Feras Almassari. Almassari had actually once interviewed for a job with Tradecorp, where Scott worked, and had met him.
Scott had told Almassari that he was independently wealthy and had moved to the United States from Europe to launch the company. He told him he had so much money lying around that his wife hadn’t even shopped around before grabbing a house in Modesto.
However Almassari’s sworn trial testimony clearly contradicts this story:
HARRIS: Did you talk with him about a job that you were looking at and personal things at that time?
ALMASRI: Actually, we basically talked about the job and what are the requirements for the job.
HARRIS: At some point in time did he tell you a little bit about Trade Corp?
ALMASRI: Yes. At the beginning he explained to me about Trade Corp and what the company does.
HARRIS: Did he talk about why Trade Corp was in Modesto?
ALMASRI: Not particularly, no.
HARRIS: Did he mention to you if he was married?
ALMASRI: Actually I found out at the end of the interview that he's married.
HARRIS: You are talking about business lunch. Keep going on. You continue to talk to him, does it become more personal?
ALMASRI: No. At the end of the interview I just noticed that he looked young, so I just asked him, you know, how was he able to get into such a position for his young age. And he indicated that he had met with the company, and he lived in Modesto, and him and his wife just bought a house.
HARRIS: In Modesto?
6. Miguel Espidia
Ablow discusses in his book, the portion of Det. Brocchini’s testimony that references a tip called in by Miguel Espidia:
According to testimony of Modesto Police Detective Al Brocchini, Peterson had foreshadowed the plot back in 1995. He had told a friend named Miguel Espidia that if he wanted to get away with killing someone he would dispose of the body by tying a bag around its head, fastening weights to its hands, and throwing it into the sea. Fish would eat away at the flesh so that identification of the victim would be impossible.
Laci’s remains had no head, no hands, and no feet.
What Ablow has conveniently left out, is that even Detective Brocchini (who was convinced of Scott’s guilt within hours of being called to the house, the first night of Laci’s disappearance) deemed this tip not credible.
Here is Brocchini’s testimony regarding that tip:
DISTASO: Now, did you receive a tip from a man named Michael Espidia?
BROCCHINI…. He called and said he had a conversation with Scott Peterson in 1995 where Peterson told him how he could get rid of a body if he killed somebody.
DISTASO: And what did he say that Scott Peterson told him?
BROCCHINI: He said that he would tie a bag around the neck, the neck with duct tape, put weights on the hands, throw it in the sea and the fish activity would eventually eat, the body would float up, the fish activity would eat away from the head and the hands and the body would float up, no fingers, no feet, so there could be no identification.
BROCCHINI: It's Miguel Espidia is the name.
GERAGOS: Okay. And this is somebody that calls in the day after the arrest, correct?
BROCCHINI: That's correct.
GERAGOS: Of my client. And he starts coming up with all kinds of stuff, correct?
GERAGOS: And much of what, if not all of what was said, you knew to be demonstrably false; isn't that correct?
BROCCHINI: I don't know if it was false, but I just couldn't corroborate it and I just didn't put a lot of stalk in it.
GERAGOS: It wasn't credible, correct?
BROCCHINI: I couldn't corroborate it.
GERAGOS: Okay. Let me just shorten it. You interviewed this person, there was a transcript made --
GERAGOS: and you made the determination that the person was not credible, correct?
BROCCHINI: That's how I, that's how I considered it not credible.
GERAGOS: Are we talking about Espidia's information?
DISTASO: Espidia's, right.
DISTASO: I'll be quite frank with you, did you find the information credible?
Jackie and Lee Peterson
The attacks on Lee and (especially) Jackie Peterson in Ablow’s book are also absolutely appalling. Both Jackie and her brothers testified at Scott’s trial that their mother became ill shortly after their father’s murder, and was unable to care for them. Not surprisingly, Ablow insinuates that she may not have been “willing” to care for them:
Perhaps all the ugly memories flooded into Jackie’s mind. The terrifying news that her father would never come home again. The equally unthinkable news that her mother would no longer be willing or able to raise her.
Ablow’s primary source for information on Jackie Peterson appears to be Anne Bird. While reading Anne Bird’s book, I surmised that Anne felt bitterness toward Jackie for having given her up for adoption. Anne’s quotes regarding Jackie in Ablow’s book, in my opinion, confirmed this. I must ask: how responsible is it for a psychiatrist to form conclusions about someone and publish them, based on one person’s biased version of events?
Again, as in the chapters regarding Scott, the chapters regarding Jackie are full of speculation. MANY of his statements begin with words like maybe, may have, and perhaps. Again, as with Scott, Ablow provides no solid evidence to support his suppositions. Ablow appears to be able to know what Jackie was thinking and feeling when she gave her first two children up for adoption, claiming each birth represented abandonment. Ablow accuses Jackie of being unable to show her children any guarantee of unconditional love, leaving even the children she did not give away with the fear of being abandoned.
He quotes a “first degree relative” of Lee’s as saying Lee did not like children and accuses Lee Peterson of not wanting children around during his first marriage. However, reality completely contradicts these opinions and these accusations. Susan Caudillo, Lee’s daughter testified that her father "just always liked to have a companion around. My dad is just that way. Would always like to have somebody with him.” A picture is worth a thousand words….during the penalty phase of Scott’s trial, the defense presented pictures of a loving, happy family spending quality time together in many different ways. In addition, Jackie and Lee Peterson have supported Scott unconditionally for the last 3 ½ years and have fought tirelessly in the pursuit of justice for their son. From Matt Dillon’s “Presumed Guilty”:
….Jackie and Lee had to leave so they would be on time for their scheduled meeting with their son. They were allowed to see him for two half-hour visits per week. They drove from San Diego County each week for these visits.
Ablow’s comments in an interview (Courttv.com - Online chat with Keith Ablow 8-1-02) discussing convicted killer David Westerfield, explain his relentless attacks on Jackie and Lee Peterson in his book:
Keith Ablow: …. In my experience I've never found a single person who had a "normal" childhood who came to be a violent criminal. Every single one was tortured in some fashion -- physically or emotionally -- as a kid . . .
If Scott wasn’t abused, he is not capable of committing this crime. And there is no evidence of abuse – none – because there was no abuse.
Here is some true insight into the Peterson family -- from the Peterson’s themselves, other family members and some of the people honored enough to call them their friends.
Marlene Newell, Prevent Wrongful Convictions Message Board, September 6, 2005
“I . . . have first-hand observations of both Lee and Jackie. They are the finest of the finest, the summa cum laude's of this earth's population.”
Interview with the Petersons – San Francisco Chronicle - March 7, 2004
There, Jackie Peterson recalled, Scott was picked by teachers to work before and after school as a school crossing guard…
"It was so much fun to sit and watch him," added Lee Peterson, who sometimes detoured on his rounds to stop and observe Scott from a distance. "There's my little kid directing traffic."
Sworn testimony of Lee Peterson on Jackie:
Pat Harris: Still married today?
Lee Peterson: Oh, yeah. 33 years.
Pat Harris: How would you describe your relationship?
Lee Peterson: Wonderful. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. She's just a wonderful, sweet woman. Such a great disposition. I'm the grouch, and she's the, she wakes up happy every morning. She's just so pleasant. Just a wonderful person.
HARRIS: I want to ask you this, you obviously, you were around the family and you were home a lot, were you able to spend a lot of time with Scott? You saw the relationship that Scott had with his mother, how would you describe that?
PETERSON: Very loving. Jackie's a hugger, she loves to hug him and she loves him and he loves her as much as any parents can love a single child.
HARRIS: Would you describe it as a close relationship?
PETERSON: Close, very close.
HARRIS: Jackie, as far as her personality, you've known her for a lot of years, how would you describe how she reacts to adversity?
PETERSON: With stoism, she's very stoic, very cheerful.
HARRIS: Does she cry a lot?
PETERSON: Cry a lot?
PETERSON: Never. Well, I shouldn't say never, but she, she doesn't indulge in self pity, she accepts her circumstances and just goes on and tries to make things pleasant for people around her. She has tons of friends she corresponds with and calls and she just, she's very high-spirited. She has a great heart.
Sworn testimony of Lee Peterson on his relationship with Scott:
HARRIS: How would you describe your own relationship with your son?
PETERSON: I love him very much. I have great respect for him. I just have all these wonderful memories about him as a little guy growing up. I just love him very much.
HARRIS: Are you close?
Judge Delucchi: D 9 F 1. Okay.
Pat Harris: How old is he [Scott] in that picture?
Lee Peterson: He looks like he's about three.
Pat Harris: And would you read with him frequently?
Lee Peterson: Yeah. We had a real nice comfortable area where we could sit down in that red chair. He liked to snuggle so he'd come snuggling around with a book. I'd read to him.
Sworn testimony of Joanne Farmer, Jackie’s friend since the age of 14:
HARRIS: What do you remember Jackie being like in those days?
FARMER: She was fun. She still is fun. She laughs a lot. She is always looking on the bright side. I don't think I have ever seen Jackie really, really down. Always manages to see the good in people. And I don't think she has an enemy in the world. We all rally around her as much as we can, because it's fun to be with her.
HARRIS: When you were separated, did you get to see Jackie interact with her mother in her home?
FARMER: Yes, I did.
HARRIS: What was that like?
FARMER: They were very close. Helen was a dear, dear woman. Jackie is a lot like her, just sweet. Just the nicest person you ever want to meet …
HARRIS: You became aware at some point that Jackie met Lee Peterson?
FARMER: Yes, I sure did.
HARRIS: And you have been able to observe their marriage?
FARMER: Oh, it's like Jackie-Lee. You don't separate one from the other. They have always been close. They have always been very loving, and just a great couple. I have never heard them, they respect each other very highly. And I have never heard them have an argument, or even say anything, you know, toward that. They just are sweet, sweet people. They are a sweet couple.
HARRIS: You got to see him interact with his father as well; is that right?
HARRIS: How would you describe that interaction?
FARMER: He was a shadow. He kind of followed him around a lot, and wanted to do everything Lee did. Very much like Lee and Jackie. Three of them. Really it's hard to, personality-wise, they are just, they are very close, because they are all quiet people, but they keep a lot inside, and so it looks like they are not showing any emotion. That's not the way it is. It's just that they have, over the years, have just decided they are not going to show the public that side of them. So they have feelings. They have emotions. And I know, I have been there. But it's, they are not real public about it.
FARMER: . . . He [Scott] was a very loving child. He had lots of interests. They kept him busy with sports, and golfing, and all of these other things, and working at the crating place. He liked to go out there back when he was younger and build things with nails and wood that was left over from the crating. But he, I don't think he ever went through a rebellious time. My kids did, but Scott didn't, I think, because he had a secure home. He had the security. Both his parents. And both were loving parents. And they doted on him. So did the rest of the family. And so there was nothing for him to rebel against. He just was very, very happy child.
HARRIS: Did he return that love?
FARMER: Oh, absolutely. Gosh, yeah. Yes. I'm Aunt Joanne. Yeah, he's, he definitely is a loving person.
Sworn testimony of Jeffrey Cleveland, Peterson friend and former employee:
HARRIS: What did you observe as far as the family dynamics and the way the operation ran?
CLEVELAND: It's one of the few families that I have ever met that it was almost seamless. There was no rough edge where they joined. There was no friction.
CLEVELAND: Again, it was, you have to understand, I have to explain one thing about the Petersons. I have never seen a family that was so mellow, if you will. There is no abuse in any level that I ever observed from anyone. There is no physical abuse. There was no mental the abuse. There is no emotional abuse. I never heard them raise their voices against him. He never saw anger expressed. And it wasn't as if they kept it all bottled inside. There wasn't anything to keep inside. They were just happy, contented, peaceful people. And they all interacted that way. Lee was his son. Art was the sort of, Art was the most quality gentleman I ever met, and Lee was Art's son. Joe, the same thing. Joe is a, still is. He's just a sweet, gentle, kind man. Couple of kids. Good family man. Doing a nice job running the business. And same thing I observed from Scott. He was just a smooth, a nice, contented, neat little person.
Sworn testimony of Craig Farmer, Joanne’s son – friend of family and former employee:
HARRIS: Did you see them in terms of the way they, the family interacted with each other?
FARMER: Yeah, constantly. Every day.
HARRIS: How would you, as far as just looking at the family and sort of talking about their interaction, how would you classify, how would you say their interaction, what was it like?
FARMER: I was actually very jealous of their interactions. They were just so together, and that there was no animosity towards each other. I wish I would have had more to that in my life, coming from a divorced family. I was somewhat envious of their relationship.
HARRIS: When you say envious, and so forth, what specifically, give me an example of the kinds of things you are talking about.
FARMER: Well, the relationship that Lee had with his sons impressed me very much. I was close to my father, but I do not have the relationship that he has with his sons. And it was something I always admired greatly.
Sworn testimony Susan Caudillo, Scott’s half-sister, Lee’s daughter from previous marriage:
GERAGOS: Okay. Did your dad, lot of times we have heard, you have been sitting here for some of the testimony. You have heard about some of the divorced family. Is this typical divorced situation, or is the interaction okay?
CAUDILLO: Interaction with my dad was very, very good. The divorce was, in my mind every divorce is never easy. But it just was what it was. My dad didn't live with us. But we saw my dad a lot. And he never left our lives. We always knew that he was there for us and loved us very much.
GERAGOS: So what effect did Scott's birth have on the family?
CAUDILLO: We were just really excited about having a new brother. And when he came into the world, we just loved him instantly. He was our brother. He just brought our family together. He was, really kind of connected everybody. He kind of completed our blended family. He was, he made us all whole, I think.
GERAGOS: What kind of effect did Scott's coming or being born have on your dad? What kind of things about Scott affected your dad?
CAUDILLO: He generally, you know, could just tell that he loved him so much. And that he was happy to have a child with Jackie. And this really bonded them. Cemented their relationship. They, you know, they were very much in love. And Scott was the child from that love. And all of us kids were recipients of that love.
Aaron Fritz – friend of Scott’s
HARRIS: You say you saw him interact with Jackie there. What was their relationship like from what you observed?
FRITZ: . . . So she was always there for him, but always allowing him to have his own independence as well. So it was kind of a nice combination. But, more importantly, was the fact that she completely trusted him and would not hesitate to, you know, I guess, let him have privilege to go places or do things, and invite me along, or what have you. That was probably more so than I think most of my peers had. It was just kind of a friendship in addition to parent-child relationship.
Sworn testimony of Jackie Peterson:
GERAGOS: As Scott grew up, D9Q-12, the family was fairly close or real close, how would you characterize it?
PETERSON: Very close. There was never any separation. I wasn't referred to as their stepmother or they weren't stepchildren, they were just children. And we just all got along. This year when Susan had Mother's Day, her, her mother and her husband come and we all get along. I'm so grateful that she did her part in raising the children as well. They were never any trouble. And it would have been very hard on her had they been any trouble.
Sworn testimony of Joan Pernicano, Jackie Peterson's friend
HARRIS: How did you end up meeting the Peterson family?
PERNICANO: Jackie was the cub scout den mother and so that's how, you know, my son joined the cub scouts and that's how I met her.
HARRIS: Did you end up developing a friendship with Jackie?
PERNICANO: Oh, yes, almost instantly.
HARRIS: Why is that?
PERNICANO: To know Jackie is to love Jackie. She, she is such a giving, loving person and gregarious, outstanding, there's just instant rapport. And plus we discovered that we both had attended the same Catholic girls high school in San Diego. Our brothers both went to the Catholic boys school. The people that we knew, there were a lot of similarities. We both were starting out businesses, we had fledgling businesses, big families.
HARRIS: On those occasions did you have a chance to see Jackie and Lee interact?
HARRIS: What would you, how would you characterize their relationship?
PERNICANO: Calm, easy going. It was very different than in my home. My home was a little chaotic and very boisterous, whereas Jackie's was more even, more organized. They, everybody got along.
HARRIS: Did they seem to have a loving relationship?
PERNICANO: Yes, definitely.
HARRIS: Did he seem to have a good relationship with his parents?
PERNICANO: Oh, excellent. Excellent. I think that's one of the things that struck me. I was always in awe of the family because Scott spent as much time with his dad as he did with his mom. If he wasn't with his mom he was with his dad.
John Edward Peterson – Scott’s brother:
HARRIS: Now, Lee married Jackie. How old were you at the time?
PETERSON: I was five.
HARRIS: Were you happy about that marriage?
PETERSON: Definitely. I remember telling my mom I'm happy we're married.
Joseph Peterson – Scott’s brother:
HARRIS: ….. I would just like to ask you what you can tell us about Lee as a father.
PETERSON: My father is and has been a role model to me, just by his actions, how he went to work every day, how he always had us with him, how he took care of us. When my parents divorced, he stayed close. He lived nearby, and there wasn't a day that went by we didn't see him. He was just, he was a father that was always there. And that made the divorce less difficult.
HARRIS: As a husband to Jackie first, want to talk about your mother. But first I want to talk about Jackie. As a husband to Jackie, what did you see?
PETERSON: A lot of warmth, a lot of love, a stable environment, a stable home. She was a lot like dad, that she would take us, all the kids under her wing, and we would be with them. We did family things together. We weren't separated. And that was definitely a part of their marriage, and the marriage that they have. And we could see that as kids, was, also taught us about relationships and how a couple should be.
John Latham – Jackie’s brother:
LATHAM: …. You, as you get older you have family, you tend to get back together, when you weren't so close when you were younger.
HARRIS: Was Jackie instrumental trying to bring family back together?
LATHAM: She is probably the heartbeat of our family.
HARRIS: And the more you got to sort of reconnect with your sister, what did you find out about her as far as her being a person, what kind of person she was?
LATHAM: Well, she's a sweetheart. She has been a sweetheart to our family. I have never, she is one of those rare people that rarely says a bad thing about anybody, even if she doesn't like them. She is stoic about things and thinks about things. She is absolutely delightful. She would do anything for anybody. I mean someone on the street would have as good a dinner at her house as I would, probably.
HARRIS: When you say she's stoic, is that somewhat of a family trait from your side of the family?
LATHAM: Well, I have seen that in her. I have seen it in myself. Although we do get emotional at times. We have had a lot of things happen in our lives, and you move on. You try to sort it out. And I would say she's not a whiner or, a whiner or a crier.
HARRIS: …... Did you have the opportunity to meet Laci?
LATHAM: We knew Laci, yes. We had dinner with Scott and Laci several occasions, as always, when we were down here. Laci was never at our home. She never came to Alaska. But we would see her on a pretty regular basis. She was in and out of my sister's house, out of Jackie's house all the time. They were very close.
HARRIS: When you say they were very close, did Jackie treat her as almost like a daughter?
LATHAM: Exactly like a daughter.
Robert Latham – Jackie’s brother:
HARRIS: I think one thing I want the jury to be clear on, I know that we talked a little bit about Jackie at that time, John talk about the orphanage, this wasn't a situation where your mother didn't want you, is that correct?
LATHAM: No, I never felt unloved. I always felt mom wanted us home, but it wasn't possible.
HARRIS: She just couldn't?
LATHAM: She couldn't take care of us. We ended up taking care of her.
HARRIS: So what I want to talk to you about then is the time period after you came back. And we've heard from John about the reconnection in the family, how did you see it from your angle with Jackie sort of reconnecting all the family?
LATHAM: Pretty much the same way. Jacquelyn was the heartbeat of the family and she would call and coordinate, you know, getting us reservations down in San Diego and just, she would coordinate mainly with John's return.
Dr. Ablow has stated that, in his experience as a psychiatrist, he has never found a violent criminal who has come from a happy, healthy, non-abusive home. They have all been tortured in some way. By all reliable accounts, of those closest to them, Jackie and Lee Peterson were/are loving parents who were/are involved in their children’s lives, and provided a stable environment for their children to grow up in. They taught their children, in the best way possible (by example) how to have a loving and respectful marriage. This family is one to be envied and admired by any standards, but additionally and sadly, rare by today’s standards. No matter how Dr. Ablow attempts to twist the truth, I will never be convinced, nor should you, that you can love your children too much or spend too much time with them.
Whether you believe Scott Peterson is guilty, or innocent, you should be outraged. Anyway you look at it, what Dr. Ablow has done is wrong. Even if these accusations were backed by truth, which they are not, it is unethical for him, as a doctor, to attack Jackie and Lee Peterson in this way, for no other purpose than to further his career and/or financial gain. It is unethical to diagnose Scott Peterson without ever having spoken to him or reviewed his psychiatric history. But even worse, as I have shown you, Dr. Ablow has based and supported his theory, diagnosis, or whatever he chooses to call it, on lies and erroneous information. It is libel, it is demeaning to psychiatry and should be considered a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, which ALL doctors, including psychiatrists, must take.
Hippocratic Oath—Modern Version
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.