April 19, 2003
Posted at: 6:05 p.m. CDT
MODESTO, Calif. -- The husband of a pregnant woman who disappeared on Christmas Eve faces double homicide charges.
Scott Peterson has been arrested in San Diego and is being taken to Modesto, California. The district attorney says Peterson's expected to be charged with capital murder early next week.
Prosecutors plan to seek a special circumstance of double homicide, which could carry the death penalty upon conviction. However, they haven't decided whether they will seek the death penalty.
The body of Peterson's wife, Laci, was found in San Francisco Bay earlier this week. An infant's body was found as well, and DNA tests show it's the Petersons' child.
Authorities say the causes of death have not been determined.
A spokesman for Peterson's family also said this evening it was their understanding that he had been arrested in San Diego for probable cause in the disappearance of his wife.
The development comes days after a woman's decomposed torso and the remains of a full-term male fetus washed ashore on a San Francisco Bay-area beach.
A spokesman for Peterson's family said this evening it was their understanding that he had been arrested for probable cause in the disappearance of his wife.
Police in Modesto had earlier announced "a significant change in the Laci Peterson investigation" and planned to hold a news conference at 9 p.m. ET to discuss the investigation.
Authorities have been onducting tests to determine whether the corpses found Sunday and Monday on a San Francisco-area beach are the remains of Laci Peterson, 27, and her unborn child. Scott Peterson, 30, had not appeared in public or made any public statements since the bodies were found.
However, in today's edition of The Modesto Bee, Scott Peterson's lawyer said he still hopes to find his missing wife and child alive.
"As he has been for the last several months, he is hoping to find Laci and the baby alive," Kirk McAllister said. "He is hoping this doesn't mean that his search for Laci and the baby is over."
Scott Peterson told police he last saw Laci on the morning of Dec. 24 before he went fishing out of Berkeley Marina. Laci was due to give birth Feb. 10 to a son she and Scott had already named Connor.
Peterson has acknowledged he was having an affair, but maintains he did not hurt his wife. Laci's family initially supported him, but after learning of the affair, they lost trust in him.
Her father, Dennis Rocha, said earlier this week in an interview with WBZ-TV in Boston that he believes Scott killed his daughter and unborn grandson. Rocha said he wanted his son-in-law arrested.
"That's what I want, some justice done here," Rocha told WBZ-TV. "I can't see Scott being out there free. That would just eat me up."
Genetic experts at the California attorney general's office are still working on the first step of determining whether or not they have extracted enough good-quality DNA to begin identification tests. They have determined that the baby's remains will provide sufficient material, and are still assessing the adult, officials said.
If officials find they don't have adequate amounts of DNA, they plan to take more samples from the state's coroner's office and repeat the process. If they do have viable samples, they will compare them with hairs from Laci Peterson and cheek swabs from her parents, Dennis and Sharon Rocha. These comparisons may only take days.
Police sources told ABCNEWS the amount of decomposition and size of the remains are consistent with the time frame of Laci Peterson's disappearance and her physical description, and that a nursing bra typically worn by women during late-term pregnancy was found on the remains.