Nearly two decades after the death of Laci Peterson, husband Scott Peterson‘s death sentence for the first-degree murder in her death and second-degree murder in the death of their unborn son was reversed by a California judge. Though his conviction for the murder was upheld, the California Supreme Court determined on Monday, August 24, there were “a series of clear and significant errors” during the trial’s juror selection.
Laci, 27 years old and 8 months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, was the subject of national news for the months she was missing (and for a while afterward). Here are the events of that excruciating period of uncertainty.
December 23, 2002: Laci’s half-sister, Amy Rocha, and Laci’s mother, Sharon, are the last two people — aside from Scott — to speak to her.
December 24, 2002: Scott Peterson calls the police to report Laci missing from their home in Modesto, California. He claims that he last saw her mopping the floor and planning to walk their dog when he left for a fishing trip to Berkeley Marina — and that she was nowhere to be found when he returned.
December 26, 2002: Investigators search the Peterson home.
December 28, 2002: Investigators search the water near Berkeley Marina for the first time.
December 31, 2002: Investigators begin treating Laci’s disappearance as foul play. “We have not ruled out other possibilities,” homicide detective Jon Buehler says, per Fox News.
January 3, 2003: As investigators continue looking through the water near Berkeley Marina, police in Modesto ask the public to verify Scott’s whereabouts in the days leading up to Christmas.
January 14, 2003: The search expands to Southern California.
January 17, 2003: Laci’s family members hold a press conference and demand Scott tell investigators everything he knows about his wife’s disappearance.
January 18, 2003: Investigators speculate Scott may have been involved in the 1996 disappearance of a woman in San Luis Obispo, California. They later rule out any involvement on his part.
January 19, 2003: Scott leads a new search for his wife in Los Angeles.
January 23, 2003: Laci’s family reveals Scott told the investigators he had been seeing another woman.
January 24, 2003: Massage therapist Amber Frey of Fresno, California, says she was the other woman Scott had been seeing. Per CNN, she says she started seeing him on November 20, and he claimed he was single at the time.
January 28, 2003: Scott discusses his and Amber’s relationship in a televised interview. He claims he told Laci about it, saying, “It wasn’t anything that would break us apart.”
February 5, 2003: Laci’s family claims Scott sold her car while she was pregnant and even considered selling their house.
February 10, 2003: The day that would have been Laci’s due date arrives.
February 17, 2003: Jackie Peterson, Scott’s mother, tells The Associated Press she and Scott’s other family members believe kidnappers are keeping Laci captive until her baby is born.
February 18, 2003: Search warrant in hand, investigators comb through the Peterson home, take measurements and collect possible evidence. In total, 95 items are removed from the home, according to CNN.
March 4, 2003: The Carole Sund Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation offers a $50,000 reward for any information leading to Laci in addition to a $500,000 reward for her safe return, per CNN.
March 6, 2003: Modesto police declare Laci’s case a homicide.
March 12, 2003: Investigators once again search San Francisco Bay.
April 13, 2003: A couple walking their dog find a decomposing body of a late-term fetus in Point Isabel Regional Shoreline Park, north of Berkeley, California. The baby’s head was encircled by a loop and a half of plastic, as an anonymous Associated Press source revealed.
April 14, 2003: Laci’s body is found. Autopsy photographs obtained by ABC News shows Laci’s head was missing, as were parts of her limbs. Two and a half years later, a jury convicts Scott of two counts of murder.
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