Crime Scene: 523 Covena, the Peterson home
523 Covena, Modesto CA was the residence of Scott and Laci Peterson at the time Laci disappeared. The State acknowledges that Scott was on his way to the warehouse at 10:08 a.m. and did not return until 4:45. The return time is confirmed by the police through computer usage, a Marina parking receipt, a gas purchase, cell phone records, and the observations of a reliable witness. He made the first call regarding Laci's disappearance to Sharon Rocha at 5:17 p.m., and the police were in the house at 6:15 p.m.
Scott was immediately suspected, a homicide detective was called in, police photographs were taken and evidence collected that very night. Finding no obvious signs of a murder on the 24th, and suspecting a cleanup, a search warrant was executed on December 26 and 27 to look for evidence that a clean-up occurred and any trace evidence that a cleanup would have missed. The FBI assisted with their special blood-detecting equipment. All suspected blood stains were tested, all items that could have been used in a cleanup were collected as evidence, and a special vacuum cleaner was used to vacuum the area Scott had been seen vacuuming on the 25th.
Every single item collected as evidence on the 24th, the 26th, and the 27th came back negative. Reasonable police officers would have concluded they had the wrong man. But not the MPD. No. Undaunted, Grogan obtained another search warrant. This time to look for evidence of a soft kill that would leave no trace evidence. Did they find any? No, they didnít.
The simple truth is, Laci Peterson was not murdered in that house, either by Scott Peterson or anyone else.
The simple truth is, Laci Peterson was not abducted from that house, by Scott Peterson or anyone else. If her abductor was in that house, Laci left with him or her or them willingly. She was not forced.
There simply was no crime committed in that home, by Scott Peterson or anyone else.
4:45 p.m. Scott arrived home
5:17 p.m. Scott called Sharon
6:11 p.m. Evers arrived at the Park where Scott was
6:30 p.m. Duerfeldt asked for a homicide detective
1st walk through at 6:20 p.m. by Officers Letsinger, Spurlock, and Evers
Summary of Letsinger's Description: Going into the courtyard, he noticed the mops and bucket next to the door, and it looked like water had dripped recently on the stone. He saw the pizza box on the counter still with some pieces in it, and a rug scrunched accordion style against the doorjamb of the door in the living room. He noticed several dirty, wet rags on the washing machine. The rest of the room almost was like a model home. Everything was in place. The chairs and rugs were all set. The magazines on the coffee table were all laid out. He said that's what made the rug and the rags stick out. He went into the second bedroom and noticed some duffel bags on the closet shelf and one on the floor, upside down.
Jon Evers: . . . I came through the courtyard, through the front door. I stood right here. I stood right here, watched this hallway while Officer Spurlock and Officer Letsinger went this direction, and cleared this part of the house. When they were done, they came up. We then went up the hallway towards the rear of the house, looked in the bathroom, looked in the master bedroom, looked in this, in the second bedroom, and then the third bedroom, which was a nursery. Checked in there. Came back out, and then we got out here in the backyard, looked around this patio area, checked the pool, walked around the back, checked the spa, and came down the side of the house, and then checked around there. And then that was it.
After concluding this walk-through, the 3 Officers had a 5-minute conversation with Sergeant Duerfeldt inside the house, near the front door. Duerfeldt had not yet met Scott Peterson and didn't know who he was. Based on this discussion, Duerfeldt called Lt. Able and explained that he wanted a homicide detective to respond. At 6:30 pm, Duerfeldt called Sgt. Carter, who is the supervisor of the crimes against persons unit, and Carter gave him Brocchini's name, as the next homicide detective in rotation. Duerfeldt called Det. Brocchini, who was in the foothills with his family.
2nd walk through by the three Officers and Scott Peterson
Officer Evers said he and Scott went through the house, room by room, with Evers asking, "Do you see anything unusual, anything out of place," and in all of the rooms Scott said, No. Evers opened the refrigerator to see if there was any new food that she might have bought. And Scott said, no, that it didn't look like there was anything new.
The 3 Officers noted that the rug in front of the family room door that leads to the backyard was pushed all the way against the door. Scott said the dog or cat must have been playing there, and he used his toe to pull it away from the door and straighten it out.
Spurlock asked Scott what type of fish he went fishing for that day, and Scott didn't say, but held up his hands about 7-8 inches apart. Spurlock asked him what kind of bait he used, and Scott said a silver lure. Spurlock asked Scott where he keeps his fishing equipment, and Scott said at the shop (the warehouse). Spurlock testified that when he questioned Scott about the fishing, Scott threw down his flashlight and said the f word. However, none of the officers reported this behavior in their reports, and it didn't appear in any of the discovery given to the Defense team. Scott did give Evers the marina parking receipt, which was subsequently given to Brocchini and booked into evidence.
3rd walk through by Detective Brocchini and Officer Evers
Detective Allen Brocchini, the responding detective, arrived at the Covena home about 9:30 pm (9:55 pm according to Sgt. Duerfeldt). Scott was outside with some family and neighbors. After being briefed by Evers and other police officers at the scene, Brocchini did a 10-minute walk through with Evers, who pointed out things that were suspicious to him.
4th walk through by Detective Brocchini, Officer Evers, and Scott Peterson
Brocchini did a 45-minute walk-through with both Evers and Scott. Brocchini noted the mop and bucket, but did not smell bleach or other cleaning solutions and observed that the floors were not wet. He noted Laciís purse in the closet, with Laci's wallet, keys, sunglasses, and other items of personal property inside. Laci's cell phone was in the Rover plugged in to the cigarette lighter, but it was not charged and would not stay powered on. During the walk-through, Brocchini saw Scott's long guns, and asked if he had any hand guns. Scott told him he had owned two, but one was stolen a year or two or three earlier from his vehicle, and he had a second gun that was out in his glove compartment. He told Brocchini that he had used the gun pheasant hunting, but it misfired.
Brocchini asked Scott if the ID Officer could come to the house while they went to the warehouse, so he could photograph it and "look for evidence." Scott consented. While Scott was standing in the driveway and out of earshot, Brocchini instructed Officer Letsinger to tell Lovell, the ID Officer, to take the bucket and mops into evidence. Brocchini also gave instructions for Lovell to take the towels that were on the washing machine and to use an alternate light source to look for any type of blood or anything and collect it if he found any. Scott was not informed of any of this and was not given receipts. Detective Brocchini also seized the handgun in the Ford pickup, unknown to Scott. Brocchini then took Scott to the warehouse, and finally to the police station for an interview.
Detective Grogan asked for the first search warrant because there was no evidence of a crime on the night of December 24th, but the mops and mop bucket and the fact that Scott washed his clothes indicated a clean-up. The 1st search warrant on 523 Covena was primarily to find evidence of a clean-up and to find the trace evidence that would have survived the clean-up.
Birgit Fladager: Now you were aware, were you not, that police officers had in fact walked through the house on Christmas Eve that night?
Craig Grogan: Yes.
Birgit Fladager: And to your knowledge had they reported seeing any evidence of a crime scene that jumped out at them?
Craig Grogan: No.
Birgit Fladager: Now given that information, was that any reason to you why you should not still try and determine if there were a crime scene at the house?
Craig Grogan: That didn't mean that there wasn't something that we hadn't found. Certainly there was no forensic tests done at the house in a brief walk-through on the night before. There were issues about a mop being out and some mop water recently thrown out. The fact that the defendant washed his clothes apparently after the fishing trip that led us to believe that possibly a cleanup had taken place at the house and we needed to try to go back there and see if that was the case or not.
Birgit Fladager: If there's a cleanup is there some sort of testing that can be done by some particular agency that can help determine that?
Craig Grogan: Well, it depends on the agency. As I learned then, the Department of Justice Crime Lab will come out and they will, they will examine along floorboards and through the house very carefully and then test specific items that they see to see whether it is blood or not. The FBI had access to a substance that the Department of Justice does not use which, and that's called Luminol, and it's a substance that you can spray and if it is blood it is supposed to fluoresce. So we decided that we wanted to call the FBI and see if they would come and assist in a search of the house.
Detective Rudy Skultety was the crime scene manage for this search warrant. He arrived on the 26th at 7:30 p.m. Detective Rick House had already secured the residence. The officers were briefed prior to the search detailing the specific items sought under the search warrant. The only objective on the 26th was to search for forensic evidence--signs of blood, a struggle, etc. A clean-up was suspected, so the officers were instructed to search baseboards, creases, lower parts of furniture. On the 27th, they conducted a complete search, looking for the items listed in the search warrant.
The FBI assisted with their special blood-detecting equipment. All suspected blood stains were tested, all items that could have been used in a cleanup were collected as evidence, and a special vacuum cleaner was used to vacuum the area Scott had been seen vacuuming on the 25th.
On the 27th, after the search concluded, but while the house was still secured, Det. Grogan asked Det. Brocchini to go back to the house to "collect a small sample of the dried concrete -- freshly dried, it looked like to me, concrete on the side of the house . . . It was in the front driveway, on the north side of the driveway. There's a small patch of dirt between the fence -- like between the hedges of the fence and the driveway."
Results: No evidence of a clean-up or of trace evidence left behind.
Pictures taken and used as Exhibits
People's 1A-PP: Binder of Photos taken during the search of 523 Covena on December 26 & 27, 2002
People's 134: photo of Det. Hendee with the leaf crown on his head to look like Julius Caesar and skylarking around (not admitted, no probative value)
Other Evidence examined and collected
Item 2, 1996 Landrover, license 4MSP497
Item 4, Dell laptop case
Item 5, Dell Latitude laptop computer
Item 6, Dell adaptor
Item 7, Compaq adaptor
Item 8, Cannon adaptor
Item 9, Dell floppy drive
Item 10, 3.5" floppy disc
Item 11, Compaq Armada laptop computer
Item 13A-B, pair of Tennis shoes, gray in color, size 9 1/2, shoe laces tide, right shoe had mud on the side
Item 15, Photo of a jewelry box located on the dresser in the master bedroom
Item 16, Five jewelry appraisals in the name of Robert ROCHA
Item 18a, Right slip-on Lauren Polo brand tennis shoes size 4
Item 18b, Left slip-on Lauren Polo brand tennis shoe size 4
Item 19, Diary - 10 diary - first entry is 7/16/02. The last entry is 12/01/02.
Item 20, Jewelry matching description of what the victim was last seen wearing consisting of 2 yellow metal chains with clear stones, one yellow-metal watch with numerous clear stones on the face, a white metal-colored ring with blue and clear stones
Item 21, Hand-torn up credit report from Experian
Item 22, Red Mead notebook (possibly containing volunteer information)
Item 23, Travel Lodge envelope with miscellaneous writing
Item 24, Photos and blood collection
Item 25a, Oral-B toothbrush with a blue band
Item 25b, Oral-B toothbrush head with an aqua-color brand
Item 26a, blue-black hairbrush (Laci's) (round styling brush)
Item 26c, Large blue comb
Item 26d, Silver comb/pic combo
Item 28a, .12 gauge shotgun with case, camel in color, serial #310854
Item 28b, Ruger .22 rifle with scope with gray case, serial #243-37225
Item 28c, serial #06291PX123
Item 28d, .12 gauge Smith & Wesson shotgun with camel-colored case, serial #FB60445
Item 28e, .12 gauge Browning shotgun with gray carrying case, serial #14019
Item 28f, .12 gauge Mossburg shotgun with maroon and gray carrying case, serial #SE7403
Item 28g, .223 Rueger rifle with scope in a camel-colored carrying case, serial #188-94335
Item 28h, Three ammo mags
Item 28i, .12 gauge shotgun shells, 17 in quantity, in an ammo holder
Item 30, A marriage certificate in the name of Laci and Scott PETERSON, miscellaneous papers dated 1999, 2000, and 2001
Item 31, Mortgage file and papers
Item 32, PriceLine.com reservation in the name of Scott PETERSON and robert WEAVER dated 12/09 - 12110102 at the Oxnard Radisson
Item 33, Bank of America checkbook and checks and register in the name of Scott and Laci PETERSON, the Morro Bay branch
Item 34, Verizon cell phone bills, address book, handwritten notes, B of A statement
Item 35, unopened AT&T wireless bill in the name of Scott PETERSON with an address on Covena
Item 39, Louis Vuitton wallet with gift bag
Item 42a, Fishing license year 2002, two-day license, August 30-31, 2002
Item 44a, Toshiba brand telephone answering machine
Item 44b, Cassette tape copy of answering machine messages
Item 45a, Timberland brand t-shirt, size large
Item 45b, Columbia brand x-large fleece jacket
Item 47, samples of all carpets and area rugs
Item 50, Miscellaneous papers crumpled with miscellaneous names and phone numbers. This appears to be contacts for assistance in the search for the victim
Jewely consisting of a blue case which contained a bracelet and pin; a brown case containing two bracelets, two earrings, four chains and one pendant; a gray case containing two watches; a black case with white beaded necklace, earrings and bracelet; a gold cloth case containing three baby rings; two yellow-metal rings with multi-colored stones and two pendants; a black bag containing a yellow-metal charm bracelet; a black bag containing three chains, one bracelet, four pendants, five rings, a stick pin
Item 55, Miscellaneous papers containing phone numbers to C&C Marine and Bob's Marine
Item 56, Wall calendar
Item 58, Yoga schedule
Item 60, cement chip sampe
February 18-19, 2003
Seeking another search warrant for the Covena home and storage shed, Lead Detective Grogan outlined his theory.
Evidence at the scene suggested that Laci Peterson was the victim of 'soft kill' where there would be limited blood evidence at the scene. The small amount of blood recovered in their bed could indicate a location where Laci Peterson had been assaulted.
The fact that Scott Peterson had no significant injuries aside from a scuffed knuckle indicates the victim did not likely have the ability to take defensive action. Laci may have been drugged prior to suffocation or poisoning or otherwise incapacitated without a struggle. The cleanup by mopping the floor and vacuuming may be a result of wrapping Laci in a tarp inside the home and pulling her out the door causing the throw rug to be wadded beneath the doorway. Scott could have carried Laci Peterson's body wrapped in a tarp to his vehicle and then transported her to his shop after releasing their dog with the leash attached.
The motive of that crime could be linked to Scott's failing business in addition to pressures of becoming a parent when having no desire to have a child and the expensive desires of his wife Laci Peterson including Laci's want of a new vehicle and home. Scott's continued desire to have a relationship with Amber Frey may add to the motive.
listed 24 items he was looking for, including any poisons or injectable drugs or
fluids that could cause death and any syringes or items used for injection of
drugs. He also wanted to take a sample of McKenzie's hair so it could be
compared to dog hairs found on a blue tarp recovered in the Bay. When Grogan
asked Scott where McKenzie was, he asked if they were going to impound his dog,
Another purpose for the search warrant was to have Amy Rocha determine if the clothing Laci wore to the Salon Salon on December 23, 2002, was present in the house. Laci's Clothes
The media had extensive coverage of this search, with cameras catching every evidence bag carried from the house, with some media reporting that close to 100 bags of evidence were removed.
Results: No evidence found to validate Grogan's theory.
Details of the Search Warrant execution.
Southwest bedroom (master bedroom) - Detectives Hendee and House
Northwest bedroom (guest bedroom) - Detectives Eichbaum and Hawn
Baby's bedroom - Detective Ruskamp
Bathroom/under the house - Detective McGill
Dining Room - Detectives Hawn and Eichbaum
Kitchen - Detective Hendee
Den - Detectives Owen and McGill
Evidence Examined and/or collected
218- indicates items were examined/collected on February 18, and 219- on February 19.
218-1: SOTEC notebook with battery
218-2: Imation 1.44 floppy drive, USG port
218-3: Five floppy disks and CD
218-4: Seven CD's, four floppy disks
218-5: Business card with handwriting "Union Safe," a phone record, a vacation flyer, a Security public storage receipt
218-6: Miscellaneous receipts
218-7: A handwritten note "Morgan Stanley" envelope with photos and miscellaneous paperwork
218-8: Six CDs and eight floppy disks
218-9: Photograph of Laci Peterson and another female
218-10: One pair of black shorts with numerous hairs attached
218-10A: A sample of hairs from 218-10 (possibly cat hairs)
218-11: A piece of paper with a phone number, two receipts
218-12: A samsung digital CD disk
218-13: A green felt back with two women's earrings
218-14: A Target receipt dated 12-4-2002 and nine Longs Drugs film processing receipts
218-15: A black women's stretch pants with hairs (possibly cat hairs)
218-16: A green scarf with turtle design
218-17: A white nightgown
218-18: A white towel
218-19: Two receipts, is World Market dated 10-8-2002 and the other Bed, Bath and Beyond dated 10-10-2002
218-20: Four scarves
218-21: One pair of black shoes with black straps
218-22: One pair of "GAP" shoes, black with silver buckle
218-23: Miscellaneous photos and negatives
218-24: Blue nightgown type bathrobe
218-25: Bank of the West mastercard
218-26: Lowe's credit card
218-26A: White comforter
218-26B: Off-white blanket
218-26C: White top sheet
218-26D: White fitted sheet
218-26E: White mattress cover
218-26F: White bed box spring skirt
218-27A: Pillow with no pillow case
218-27B: Pillow with pillow case
218-27C: Pillow and pillow case
218-27D: Pillow and pillow sham
218-27E: Pillow and pillow sham
218-28: Hairs removed from between mattress and box springs
218-29: Unknown substance sample from headboard
218-30: Cream colored GAP size 5 pants
218-31A: White stripe GAP shirt
218-31B: Blue men's, size large, pajama top and bottom
218-31C: One pair of blue and white briefs
218-31D: Two pair of polo brand sport socks
218-32A: One CD
218-32B: Handwritten note dated 1-1-2003
218-33: Yellow hanging folder with miscellaneous receipts
218-34: Mailbox Etc receipt
218-35: Black date book titled "2002 at a Glance"
218-36: One bottle of Justin wine, Viagra prescription bottle, Superbowl room card, Esau cork
218-37: Yellow pages phone book
218-38: Aerosol slip on tennis shoes, size 7
218-39: Two US Bank checks and check receipts
218-40: A black and tan "Motherhood" blouse, size small
218-41: Small piece of possible concrete found on dining room floor near north wall
218-42: White t-shirt, size extra large with a photo of Laci Peterson
218-42B: One pair of boot cut maternity denim jeans
218-42C: Beige GAP turtleneck sweater, size small
218-42D: Brown GAP corduroy skirt, size extra small
218-42E: Black GAP short sleeved shirt, size small
218-43: Black GAP lambs wool sweater jacket, size large
218-44: photos only
218-45: Green and blue basket weave straw purse containing book titled "Feast of Love."
218-46: Dark colored substance with hair or fiber removed from interior hall closet door
218-47A: Water standard
218-47B: Sample from master bedroom closet door
218-47C: Control sample
218-48: Jockey white underwear, size 7
218-49: Miscellaneous paperwork
218-50: Miscellaneous paperwork
218-51: Liquid sample from a black plastic Ace Hardware container
218-52A: Photos of Scott and Laci Peterson
218-52B: Photos of Scott and Laci Peterson
218-53: Photos of Scott and Laci Peterson and family
218-54: Framed photo of Laci Peterson and associates
218-55: Photo album of wedding and wedding video
218-56A: Liquid samples from tool shed
218-56B: Liquid samples from tool shed
218-57: Binder of photos of Laci Peterson
218-58A: Liquid samples from shed
218-58B: Liquid samples from shed
218-59A: One pair of white tights
218-59B: Black nylons
218-59C: Lipstick and lip pencils
218-60: Burgundy Old Navy spaghetti strap top, a blue Old Navy size extra small t-shirt and a white long sleeved GAP t-shirt, size 8, a white spaghetti strap Old Nave size small top, a Banana Republic white camisole
218-61: A Predazone prescription, Benadryl capsules and sample of Robitussin
218-62: A dog brush with hairs
219-63: throw rug in front of door leading to backyard, which was crumpled on the night of December 24, 2002
219-64: Mexican style blankets above washing machine
219-65: Marble style mortar and pestle
219-66: Nature Made prenatal vitamins
219-67: Photos of Laci Peterson and friends
219-68: White pair of wrinkled woman's panties, Victoria Secret, size large
219-69: Pair of Justin brown boots, size 9D
219-70: Sweet Dreams crib receipt
219-71: 3 sonogram photos
219-72: Baby shower card
219-73A: Red handle wire cutters
219-73B: Red handle tile cutter
219-73C: Blue handle wire cutters
219-73D: Red handle needle nose pliers
219-73E: Black handle needle nose pliers
219-73F: Yellow handle tin snips
219-73G: Fuller pliers
219-73H: Blue handle channel lock cutters
219-73I: Red handle tin snips
219-73J: Black handle scissors with nylon strap
219-73K: Yellow handle tin snips
219-74A: Yellow handle pruning shears
219-74B: Long handle tile cutter
219-75: Liquid sample from shed
219-76A: Red handle pruning shears
219-76B: Red handle pruning shears
219-77: 3 college certificates taken from coat closet, one from Arizona State, two from University of San Diego
219-78: Photo of a stain
219-79: Large camouflage Columbia jacket taken from coat closet
219-80: Shred-it document
219-81: Financial documents and one floppy disk
219-82: Blue handle wire cutters from under the house
219-83: Poster with a note from "Laci's Husband" to volunteers, photo of Laci, and a teddy bear recovered from a box on the patio
219-84: Black GAP maternity pants, size small
219-85: GAP denim jeans, size 33x32
219-86: Yellow Gilman t-shirt, long sleeved
219-87: White t-shirt, Vegas Vacation
219-88: Blue Hanes t-shirt, extra large
219-89: Gray sweatshirt, Hanes size extra large
219-90: White Fruit of the Loom t-shirt, extra large
219-91: Faxed document
219-92: Yellow and blue GAP parka jacket
219-93: Thomas Brothers road atlas
219-94: One white maternity t-shirt, short sleeved, GAP v-neck, one white maternity t-shirt, short sleeved, crew neck
Defendant's 4T: Search warrant team in Peterson dining room with mattresses, photo taken Feb 19, 2003
Defendant's 6L 1-10: Knife on desk, brown boots, tennis shoes, open bathroom drawer, folded blue tarp, folded boat cover, boat cover draped over fence, blue jeans on dryer, dog leash, blue jeans on bed