by Jane Hamilton
In spite of the prosecution’s insistence that Laci Peterson had
stopped walking her dog McKenzie about 2 months prior to her disappearance,
there is information in testimony and in police, media, and medical reports to
From Larry King Live, January 3, 2003
S. ROCHA: Yes. Yes. She always took
her dog for a walk. Not necessarily every single morning. Because she is far
along in her pregnancy, but yes, that was her normal routine, to take the dog
for a walk in the park.
From Amy Rocha’s testimony (Preliminary hearing)
Q. Okay. And you know that within that last couple of days that she'd also been to the -- been to the park walking the dog or walking McKenzie; isn't that correct?
A. I don't know for sure if she walked to the park, but I knew that she'd been walking frequently, yes.
From medical records and from Brocchini’s interview with Kristen Reed:
GERAGOS: If I were to tell you that Laci had called the OBGYN and had indicated that she was concerned about weight gain, even after the doctor had recommended that she stop, and that she was walking again even though the doctor had asked her to stop. And then you get Kristen Reed's statement that she made to you that she had started walking again because of weight gain, would that change your opinion or your belief that she had been walking on the 24th?
Numerous tips were called into the Modesto Police Department after Laci disappeared about women seen walking dogs in the park and in the Covena neighborhood on December 24 (Prosecution Exhibit 267). Some of the sightings could not have been Laci because of the time, the description, or the location. Many other sightings may have been credible, but there is no information available about them. There were other women who regularly walked their dogs in the area.
However, we do have information from 4 very credible witnesses who were sure they saw Laci and McKenzie in the same area on the morning of December 24 around 10 a.m.-- Homer Maldonado, Tony Freitas, Martha Aguilar, and Gene Pedrioli. These sightings suggest a route for Laci on that morning: leaving home, going south on Covena, west on Miller to La Loma and then northwest along La Loma. It doesn't seem likely that four people independently were imagining this. These sightings support the theory that Laci left home around 10 a.m. and headed south, not north to the park.
Laci had become fearful about walking in the park shortly before
her disappearance because of reported attacks in that area. She still walked
with Scott and McK in the park, but she insisted that Scott carry pepper spray
when they did. Given her fear of walking in the park, it would make sense that
she would choose to walk in the neighborhood when she was by herself.
Maldonado, Freitas, Aguilar and Pedrioli called the MPD tipline to report that they had seen Laci on the morning of the 24th. None of their calls were returned by MPD. The initial investigation of these tips was done by defense investigators, not by the Modesto police. Not until the trial were investigators sent by the District Attorney to interview Maldonado and Freitas. Aguilar and Pedrioli were never interviewed by police or by prosecutors.
These were their stories:
He and his wife had stopped to buy gas at the USA station on the corner of Miller Avenue and Camellia Way between 9:45 and 10:00 a.m. on December 24. After leaving the gas station they drove west on Miller. At the corner of Covena and Miller, Maldonado saw Laci and McK in front of the second house from the corner on the west side of the street (211 Covena). He described her as very pregnant and having trouble controlling the dog. When he checked his rearview mirror, he saw that Laci did not cross Miller but evidently turned the corner and continued walking west on the north side of Miller.
Maldonado reported this to the MPD tipline on January 1, 2003. When he was not contacted by the Modesto Police, he went to the Command Post at the Park where he reported his sighting and spoke to the chaplain. He was never interviewed by the Modesto Police. In July 2004, during the trial, he was interviewed by an investigator from the DA’s office.
Around 10 a.m. on the morning of December 24, Freitas was driving his regular delivery route northwest on La Loma Avenue when he saw Laci and McK near the intersection where there is a small, grassy triangular park, located on La Loma between Santa Barbara and N. Santa Ana.
Freitas reported this to the MPD tipline on December 30, 2002. The woman who took his call said he would be contacted by a detective. Freitas was never contacted by anyone from the Modesto Police Department. On July 29, 2004, during the trial, he was interviewed by a DA Investigator.
Around 10 a.m. on the morning of December 24, Aguilar saw Laci and McK walking on La Loma Avenue in the same general area that Freitas saw her. She was sure it was Laci. Aguilar lived 2 blocks south of Laci on Covena and they went to the same doctor.
Aguilar’s call to the MPD tipline was never returned. She was never interviewed by anyone from MPD or from the DA’s office.
Gene Pedrioli saw Laci and McK around 10 a.m. on the morning of December 24 around the time he picked up a prescription at a pharmacy. He saw them on La Loma Avenue in the same area where they had been seen by Aguilar. He noticed McK because he has a dog the same color. He said that the woman and the dog had to walk around some branches that were on the sidewalk.
Pedrioli made 2 calls to the MPD tip line. He was told that he would have to prove his whereabouts. He thought the police were not interested in his tip. He was never contacted by them or by the DA’s office.
We do not know how far Laci walked on La Loma Avenue after she was seen by Maldonado, Freitas, Aguilar and Pedrioli. She may have gone all the way to Kewin Park before she turned northeast on Buena Vista up to Encina, or she may have turned north to Encina on one of the streets before that. We do believe that she arrived back on her block on Covena around 10:38 a.m. where she was abducted, and where McK was heard barking aggressively by the Krigbaums and was seen in the park at the north end of Covena by Mike Chiavetta.
These sightings prove beyond a doubt that Laci Peterson was alive on the morning of December 24 after Scott Peterson left home and that he had nothing at all to do with her disappearance and death.