The nation has long been captivated by the disappearance and senseless murder of Laci Peterson, who mysteriously vanished on Christmas Eve in 2002. The mother-to-be, 27, and her unborn son — whom she and her husband Scott planned to name Conner — were discovered in April of 2003 by a couple and their dog on the shore of the San Francisco Bay. Yet questions surrounding her death still remain, one being whether or not Laci had a coffin birth.

Today, coffin births are not often discussed — as they tend to be rare occurrences in modern times — but this happens when a fetus is expelled from the body of a woman who died while pregnant. These days, chemicals slow down the decomposition process and flush the normal bodily fluids, which is why many have never even heard of it. Yet whether or not Laci had one is still a question of much debate, even after 15 years.

Dr. Brian Peterson, the forensic pathologist who performed autopsies on Laci and the fetus, testified that the fetus had not been born before her death and was instead released from her decaying body. “My conclusion … is that Conner had likely been protected by the uterus” and expelled possibly weeks after Laci’s body was put in the water, he said. However, upon a cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Geragos, Dr. Peterson acknowledged he could not determine whether the fetus had been born alive. He estimated its age to be nine months and before she disappeared, Laci was considered by her doctors to be eight months pregnant.

Currently, Scott Peterson, 44, is on death row for the murder of his wife. In March, In Touch exclusively obtained bizarre letters from him, which he sent to a California mother named Linda, who asked that we not print her last name. He painted an idyllic picture of their life before she was murdered. “Laci and I loved having people over,” he wrote in the letters. “We were always happy when our pool was filled with friends, the grill was smoking, and the outside fridge was being emptied.” Linda, however, isn’t buying it. “I think his letters show he is clearly a pathological liar who thought he could get away with murdering his wife.” Scott is slated to be executed by 2021.