San Francisco Bay Searches
The Modesto Police Department expended numerous resources to locate Laci's dead body in the Bay. The 51 total searches were divided into two phases: before and after the bodies were found. Before the bodies were found, the searches were under the direction of
In the first phase, before the bodies were found, they used side scan sonar, search dogs, dive teams from local law enforcement, as well as professional deep water dive teams.
Various State witnesses described the problems with the searches. Cloward remarked that at high tides the currents would cause visibility problems for the divers and would blow them away from where they were trying to get to.
Dates of searches, as reported by Ron Cloward: December 28, 30; Jan 8, 9, 11, 18, 24, 28; Feb 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 20, 21, 23, 26; March 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 13, 26, 27, 29;
After the bodies were found, the searches were under the direction of Dodge Hendee: April 13, 14; May 5, 6, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; July 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13; September 11, 12, 18 19; October 3, 4, 17. These searches focused on finding missing body parts and anchors, and were in the area designated by Dr. Ralph Cheng, USGS.
December 28 - Berkeley Marina
The trailing dog Trimble was used to track for Laci's scent at the Berkeley Marina. This is a summary from Eloise Anderson's Pre-Trial Testimony on February 25, 2004.
December 28, 2002, working with Trimble to run a scent on Laci at the Berkeley Marina.
Trimble was 5 years old and CARDA certified as a trailing dog for one year when she participated in the search for Laci.
Prior to her work on this case, Anderson had Trimble attempt two vehicle trail runs: one was successful and one was not.
Anderson used Laci's sunglasses to scent Trimble. She did not inquire as to whether Scott had handled the sunglasses, even though she knew he had handled Laci's purse.
When a contaminated scent article must be used, the handler has the dog check the non-subject person(s) so the dog can differentiate which scent to trail. Anderson did not have Trimble check Scott.
Anderson scented Trimble at each of the two entrances to the Marina launch area, which consists of 3 piers that run north to south, where people can back trailers into the water.
First entrance tested was the area north and east of the launch area. Trimble gave a "no trail" indication.
Second entrance tested was the northwest side of the launch area.
Trimble initially headed to the north and then returned and proceeded south towards the launch area.
Of the three piers in the launch area, Trimble went to the westernmost pier, stopped at a pylon and gave an end of trail alert.
After a momentary pause, Trimble went along and down the width of one boat, then returned to the pylon.
The pylon is attached to the pier, and where somebody could tie up a boat.
Trimble then indicated end of trail.
Anderson said this was a non-contact trail, meaning Laci was in some kind of vehicle.
Anderson admitted that the winds from the ocean would probably have blown Laci's scent eastward, away from this westernmost pier.
Anderson said that even if Laci was already deceased, she could have still been giving off live scent.
January 2, 2003 - Berkeley Marina
Media Report: The search focused on the waters off the Berkeley Marina for the next few days. Police asked the public to help verify Scott's whereabouts on Christmas Eve day. They released pictures of his pickup truck, boat and boat trailer that they had impounded and pled for anyone who saw Scott in Berkeley to come forward.
January 3, 2003 - Berkeley Marina
Media Report: The search intensified in the Berkeley Marina overnight, as investigators took to the water for clues. "We're looking as many places we can. We're checking the coves. We're looking in the marinas. We're checking the rock walls -- all the various areas where the shoreline meets the water," said Sgt. Guy Craig of the Berkeley Police Department. "So far nothing."
January 4, 2003 - Berkeley Marina
Media Report: Police divers again searched the water near the Berkeley Marina. Special dogs that can detect human scent in the water were used to survey the water and shortly before 3 p.m. a hit came back. "One of the teams detected that there might be something to look for and we at this point don't know if it's substantial. We've got the divers here and we'll go ahead and use them and check out the spot," said a spokesman from the Berkeley Police Department.
January 7, 2003 - Tarp found at Berkeley Marina
Media Report: There was no word whether a blue tarp discovered over the weekend in the Berkeley Marina was connected to the case.
January 8, 2003 - Berkeley Marina
Media Report: Modesto Police were back at the Berkeley Marina, using a borrowed search boat armed with an underwater camera to scour the waters below for any clues. Searchers first turned their attentions to the waters of the marina last weekend, but swift currents and murky waters hindered divers. Sonar gear did spot something unusual in the waters, but by the time divers entered the water, they could not locate what it might have been. If police found anything new on Wednesday at the Marina, they were not saying.
Ron Cloward became involved in the Bay searches at this time. In his testimony, he said they used side scan sonar, search dogs, dive teams from local law enforcement, as well as professional deep water dive teams. The shoreline was also searched, from the Berkeley Marina north towards Richmond Point and the Richmond Marina area.
January 9, 2003 - Sonar search found object, might be body
Media Report: After days of coming up empty in their search for Laci Peterson, the Modesto Police finally may have a clue as to what happened to the missing woman. A sonar search of water at the Berkeley Marina turns up a submerged object that may indicate a human body. But police say inclement weather and fatigue among the divers is preventing them from retrieving the object or investigating it any further until the weekend. Expert divers, veterans of many Bay water searches, questioned the decision to delay the recovery of whatever lies at the bottom of the Berkeley Marina. When asked if he still supports his son-in-law, Laci's stepfather, Ron Grantski, says he does, but adds "God Help Us" if Scott is somehow involved.
MPD press release: Modesto, CA – Further search today in the area of the Berkeley Marina revealed an object on the sonar device that is possibly a human body. Weather and diver fatigue did not permit divers to examine this object today. Saturday, weather and conditions permitting, divers will attempt to examine the object and determine what exactly it is. Again as explained to the media in the past, we will not speculate on information that has not been confirmed or talk about areas that may impact our investigation. If anything is confirmed to be relating to this case, a press advisory will be forwarded through normal communications and a press conference will be scheduled allowing ample time for the media to respond.
January 11, 2003 - Object was an anchor
Media Report: A search of the Berkeley Marina, where authorities had found an object using side-scan sonar, an object that might be a body, turned up an old anchor and no clues as to what happened to Laci. In Modesto, the news re-vitalized friends and family at the Peterson search center, but a friend who spent the day with Scott said he was worn out and emotionally fragile.
January 20, 2003 - Red paint from Buoy Number 6
Detective Phil Owen met officers Mark Larry and Greg Lattice at the Richmond Harbor Master Pier on January 20, 2003. Their assignment was to take a paint sample from the Richmond Turning Basin Buoy Number 6 and see if it matched with any paint transfer on Scott's boat. Owens said, "we discussed the possibility of the boat being tied to something in the Bay to steady the boat for the possibility of a body dump. . . . Based on that conversation, we discussed the possibility that there could be some sort of paint transfer on the trim of the boat." After getting the paint sample from the Buoy, Owens examined the boat. He did find some red paint transfer on Scott's boat, but it did not match the paint from Buoy Number 6. Red paint transfer
January 26-27, 2003 - Scott returns to the Berkeley Marina
Documents entered as evidence in the Pre-Trial hearings said Scott made trips to the Berkeley marina on both the 26th and 27th of January, each time in a different vehicle. On the 26th, he drove the Rover to the Marina, circled around, and then drove south to Sunnyvale. On the 27th, he drove a Dodge pickup along a frontage road just north of the marina at about 3 pm, then circled back before going to San Francisco International Airport about six hours later. Geragos, in his OS, revealed that Grogan called Scott on the 26th to tell him, "She's in the Bay, we're gonna find her." Geragos said that if Scott had not gone to the Bay, Grogan would have said Scott didn't care.