This Sunday, Dec. 24, marks 15 years since Laci Peterson vanished after going for a walk with her dog on Christmas Eve 2002. While her dog returned home, the 26-year-old — who was pregnant and expecting a baby boy named Conner with husband Scott Peterson — never returned. Not long after she disappeared, Laci’s stepfather called 911 to report her missing.
The bodies of Laci and her unborn child were found four months later in San Francisco Bay. In 2004, nearly two years after killing his spouse and their unborn child, Scott was convicted of murder in the first degree for Laci’s death, and murder in the second degree for Conner’s. In March 2005, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Scott remains on death row at California’s San Quentin State Prison awaiting his execution. In the time that has passed since the infamous killer’s trial ended, many have forgotten what exactly happened to Laci. Back in August, Dateline revisited her tragic death in a special called The Laci Peterson Story, which included details about her autopsy. Warning: Many of the details regarding Laci’s death are graphic and reader discretion is advised.
In April 2003, a couple walking their dogs spotted the decomposing body of a late-term male fetus on the beach in Richmond, CA. One day later, the body of a recently pregnant woman was found on a nearby shoreline. It was later determined that the woman’s body was indeed Laci’s. At the time of her disappearance, she was eight months pregnant. The fetus was also confirmed to be Conner.
A source previously told the Associated Press that “one-and-a-half loops of plastic were around the fetus’ neck, and that there was a significant cut on the fetus’ body.” Laci’s exact cause of death was unable to be determined because much her body was decomposed at the time it was discovered. However, it was confirmed that her body had been brutally mutilated; she was decapitated, and her forearms, her right foot, and her left leg from the knee down were missing by the time her body was found.
Back in September, Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, opened up about the heartbreak over knowing that Scott was the one who killed her beloved daughter. “That’s the last person you want to think had anything to do with the disappearance of your daughter — her husband,” she said in the ABC documentary Gone Girl. Truth & Lies: The Murder of Laci Peterson. “The person that was a member of your family, somebody that you loved and cared about, and thought he felt the same way about your daughter. And knowing how she felt about him.”