There are few true crime cases that captivated the nation like the murder and disappearance of Laci Peterson. With the latest A&E documentary series, The Murder of Laci Peterson, there’s a renewed interest in the case — and it appears that a new generation is learning the chilling details of the murder.
One of the most common questions about the case is what was the pregnant 27-year-old’s official cause of death when her body was found in 2003 — it turns out, the answer isn’t a simple one. According to Laci’s autopsy, by the time the body was discovered in April (more than four months after her disappearance), it had been so far along in the process of decomposition, it was impossible for the coroner to determine a cause of death. However, reports from the medical examiner later alleged that there were injuries — including two cracked ribs — that occurred at or near the time of death; additionally, an unnamed source told the Associated Press that there was nylon tape around the neck of the fetus, and that there was a “significant cut” made to the fetus’ body.
Despite the inability to determine a cause of death for Laci and her unborn child — whom she and her husband, Scott Peterson, planned to name Conner — they were still able to charge Scott with the first- and second-degree murders of his wife and unborn son. In the new documentary, Scott called from death row and spoke of the moment he found out he was convicted and sentenced to death.
“It was just like this amazing, horrible, physical reaction that I had,” he said of hearing he was convicted of first- and second-degree murder. “I couldn’t feel my feet on the floor. I couldn’t feel the chair I was sitting in. My vision was even a little blurry. And I just had this weird sensation that I was falling forward — and forward and down and there was going to be no end to this falling forward and down, like there was no floor to land on. I, I was staggered by it. I had no idea it was coming.”