Statement Analysis®

Scott Peterson

On December 24, 2002, Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant, disappeared from her Modesto, CA neighborhood. Her husband, Scott Peterson, told the police he last saw her that morning as she left their house to walk their dog. Scott then left to go fishing at the Berkeley Marina. When he returned home from fishing Laci was not there. An intense search was conducted but Laci was not found.

On April 13, 2003, a baby's body, with his umbilical cord still attached, surfaced on the northern California shoreline about three miles north of the Berkeley Marina. The next day a woman's body was discovered near the same location. DNA tests would later identify the bodies as Laci Peterson and her baby. On April 18, 2003, Scott Peterson was arrested in connection with the death of wife. On April 21, he pled not guilty and is currently waiting trial.

Prior to the discovery of Laci's body, in January 2003 Peterson gave several interviews in an effort to proclaim his innocence and keep alive the search for Laci. Here are some excerpt from his various interviews.

January 16, 2003
Interview with Jodi Hernandez on NBC11

Hernandez: So, you had nothing to do with this? I mean, people are having questions now.

Peterson: The focus is on her. Let's keep her picture out there. Let's keep the tip line, the description out there.

"So, you had nothing to do with this" is more of a statement rather than a question. It would depend on the interviewer's voice inflection. The transcript ends it with a question mark. If it was a question, Peterson did not answer it. Even as a statement, Peterson avoids dealing with the issue of whether he is guilty by talking about Laci and not addressing if he had anything to do with her disappearance.

January 28, 2003
Interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Good Morning America

Sawyer: Did you murder your wife?

Peterson: No. No. I did not. And I had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance. And you use the word murder and right now every one is looking for a body. And that is the hardest thing because that is not a possible resolution for us. To use the word murder and - yes, and that is a possibility. It's not one we're ready to accept and it creeps in my mind late at night and early in the morning and during the day all we can think about is the right resolution to find her.

Peterson answers the question with three denials "No. No. I did not." Deceptive people will often try to convince you they are telling the truth by repeating their denials. A simple "no" would have answered the question. People like to expound on their answer which he does but he starts out with three denials.

"I had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance." The word "absolutely" is not necessary. "I had nothing to do with her disappearance" says the same thing. He uses word "absolutely" to try and convince us he is telling the truth.

Peterson mentions the word "murder." He tells us that "it is not a possible resolution for us." All he can think about "is the right resolution to find her." At this point in time, Laci's body has not been found. Peterson and other family members are hoping she is alive. This will be an important factor as we look at other statements he gives in the interview.

Peterson claimed that he told his wife in early December 2002 about an affair he had. Although she did not like what had happened, Peterson states there was no anger or physical confrontation between him and Laci.

Peterson: Violence towards women is unapproachable. It is the most disgusting act to me.

Keep in mind this is not a denial. It may be "unapproachable" and "disgusting" but he did not state that he did not get physical with Laci.

January 28, 2003
Questioned by a reporter

Later that evening, Peterson left the Good Morning America studios and returned home. While at the San Francisco International Airport he was asked a question by a reporter.

Reporter: Why did you murder your wife?

Peterson: I had nothing to do with it.

Remember, the only denial is to say "I didn't do it" or "I didn't kill her." Saying you had nothing to do with it (a la O.J. Simpson) is not a strong denial. Also, his wife's body had not yet been found. Peterson supposedly believes she is still alive. This would be more reason to state "I did not kill her" or to saying something to the effect that she is not dead. Based on the question and his answer, he stated he had nothing to do with her murder.

January 29, 2003
Interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Good Morning America

A portion of his taped January 28 interview aired on the following day.

Sawyer: What kind of marriage was it?

Peterson: God, the first word that comes to mind is, you know, glorious. I mean we took care of each other, very well. She was amazing. She is amazing.

Peterson uses the phrase "you know." We do not know something unless the person tells us it. People sometimes use this phrase expecting us to take for granted what they are saying is the truth. Other people have a habit of saying this. Peterson uses this phrase a lot during his interviews. We would have to see if it is part of his normal speaking pattern.

The biggest blunder Peterson makes in this statement is that he speaks about his wife in the past tense. What this tells us is that Peterson knew his wife was dead at the time he gave this interview. He realizes what he has said so he corrects himself by referring to her in the present tense "she is amazing." We often see the same thing when a child disappears. Statistics say a family member is usually involved. Many of these cases are solved because a family member speaks about the missing kid in the past tense.

Sawyer: You haven't mentioned your son.

Peterson: Hmm. [Long pause] That was, it's so hard. I can't go in there. [Referring to the baby's room.] That door is closed until there's someone to put in there.

In talking about his unborn son, Peterson again uses the past tense, "That was." He does not finish his sentence so we do not know what he was thinking.

In talking about the baby's room, he refers to his son as "someone." That is very impersonal and distant. Although his baby had not yet been born, he and Laci had picked the name "Conner." We would expect him to use the baby's name or at least refer to him as "my son."

January 29, 2003
Interview with Ted Rowlands on KTVU

Peterson talks about the affair he had.

Peterson: Obviously, the relationship I had with Amber was inappropriate and unfair to a lot of people."

He calls his affair "inappropriate." My guess is that he got this language from our former President Bill Clinton who also had an "inappropriate" relationship. Instead of saying the relationship was wrong both of these guys use the softer "inappropriate" language.

Later in the interview, Rowlands tells Peterson that victim advocates Marc Klass and John Walsh had questioned Peterson's actions in this case.

Peterson: I have had conversations with both those gentlemen. It is entirely too selfish of me to defend myself against these accusations. All the media time should be spent on finding Laci.

Marc Klass would later responded to Peterson's comments.

Klass: There is no ambiguity in this. I have never in my life spoken to Scott Peterson. Where he comes off thinking he can make a statement like that in the public forum and get away with it, I don't know. It's not the first time. Who does this guy think he is that he can make these statements, and that they'll go public, and they're obvious lies?

Based on what I have seen in his statements, things are not looking good for Scott Peterson. We will have to wait and see the outcome of his trial.


On November 12, 2004, Scott Peterson was found guilty of murdering his wife Laci and unborn son Conner.

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