Calling Captain Obvious
February 13, 2003 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Latest musings from Laci Peterson's family: "He's just not around, he's not participating, he's not working together with us." Hmmm. Wonder why. That whole "Somebody hurt Laci. Scott's somebody. Therefore..." thing might have something to do with it. Even if you think he was involved, you've got to admit there's something creepy about accusing a guy of killing his wife and child simply because nobody else has shown up to take the blame.
posted by effugas (30 comments total)
Why is this missing person case getting so much media attention? The are thousands of open missing persons cases. Most will get a few days of local news coverage and nothing else. Why does the national news, especially the cable news networks, give this case so much attention? Are they just looking for something to report? Is the family behind it? What is it about this case that makes it so interesting to everyone?
posted by Quinn at 6:49 AM on February 13, 2003

I keep seeing the headlines for this, but can someone tell me why this case made the national news?
posted by mischief at 6:49 AM on February 13, 2003

christmas. pregnant. i think that explains most of it.
posted by quonsar at 7:01 AM on February 13, 2003

why this case made the national news?

I was wondering the same thing, then I noticed Modesto, Condit, Chung..
posted by lampshade at 7:10 AM on February 13, 2003

I always thought the Husband was involved, not because there were no other suspects, but because everything the guy said always sounded like BS. Obviously, this doesn't make him guilty, but it seems (to me at least) that Scott Peterson has done more to make himself look guilty than just the Media needing someone to portray as the suspect.
posted by stifford at 7:28 AM on February 13, 2003

Well, I think that the story left out some of the lead-up to this kind of reaction from the Rocha family- the family found out last week that Peterson had sold his wife's truck to buy a new one for himself, and tried to put their house up for sale. The Rocha family was incredibly supportive of Peterson in the beginning, insisting that he could in no way be involved, until the mistress Peterson claimed he didn't have held a press conference.

I don't think it's creepy at all for the family to believe that Peterson had something to do with this- there's blood in his truck, Peterson's tried to put his marital home up for sale a few days after she disappeared, he sold his wife's SUV and bought a new truck for himself (indicating he doesn't expect her to need a home or transportation) and he stopped participating in searches for his wife, and he's not cooperating with the police.

With that in the background, the fact that he's now actively avoiding the family is naturally going to make them more suspicious. It's not that nobody else has shown up to take the blame, it's that what little evidence they do have points only to Peterson knowing more about his wife's disappearance than he's telling.
posted by headspace at 7:30 AM on February 13, 2003

Still no arrest in the Jonbenet Ramsey case either. In case you were wondering.
posted by jazon at 7:31 AM on February 13, 2003

Yeah, it's the disappearing on Christmas eve, at 8 mo. pregnant that put it on top of the news. Her husband's odd (read: suspicious) behavior has helped to keep the story smoldering since then. A young man with a beautiful wife, about to be a father - but having an affair with a woman out of town; Hmmmm... Motive? It would be very unfortunate if he truly wasn't involved, but in so many cases like this one, it is most often the husband of the victim.
posted by BlueScreen at 7:32 AM on February 13, 2003

Human interest? Perhaps. News? No freakin' way.

Worst "coverage" to datel: The Bastion of The Left, the Savior of the Liberals, flying out to CA to do a "one on one" hour-long show with the Rochas, to hear "their side" of the story. Sample question: "How did you feel when you first heard that Laci was missing?"

W. T. F. Disgusting.

posted by davidmsc at 7:37 AM on February 13, 2003

Who is this Laci Peterson? Do you need to be American to have heard about it? Because I am not American.
posted by PenDevil at 7:45 AM on February 13, 2003

If anyone close to me ever disappears, I hope I have the presence of mind to immediately hire an image consultant.

Whose first job, of course, will be to undo the damage I caused by hiring an image consultant.
posted by luser at 7:45 AM on February 13, 2003

i drive by the street they lived on everyday on my way to work. It is less a mile from here. Don't know the petersons...but on christmas eve i was over at my mom's house, watching my two 8 months pregnant sisters amble around the kitchen making food. So i had a pretty fresh picture in my mind of the vulnerability of Laci Peterson. As of sunday afternoon i had a new niece, will have another on friday. Makes it hard not to think about it.

press coverage locally has been fairly balanced. national media has been lame--as usual--but i think the family doesn't mind as long as it keeps the story current.

sad thing has been watching all of the big reward posters slowly deteriorate in the weather, and some have been taken down once news of scott's affair came out.
posted by th3ph17 at 8:08 AM on February 13, 2003

Scott Peterson has done more to make himself look guilty

What does one do to look innocent?
posted by semmi at 8:15 AM on February 13, 2003


Its been alot of hype. His wife disappeared right before Christmas; two months have gone by and who knows how much he's been able to work? People have bills -- they don't exist for our personal entertainment, not even if they're on national news. What you call a couple days, I note was all mentioned in the last week or two.

Lets be honest, headspace. He was screwing around, the family found out, and they were so pissed off they didn't find it difficult to blame him for her murder -- there was no evidence against it, and it sure kept her face in the news. Now everything he does is evil -- if he doesn't work and sells property to survive, it's suspicious. If he does work and goes to a trade show out of town, he's fleeing the country. If he tries to move away from a horde of reporters and people that despise him, he must really have done something wrong.

And if he doesn't particularly wish to work with a group of people who consider him Public Enemy #1 -- if for no other reason: "Why didn't he protect her!" -- he himself must have killed Laci.

After all, if he had just stopped the killer, she'd be alive. That's true no matter what, is it not?

This is the logic I'm fearing, headspace. Sure, there's stuff we can ask questions about. But bad media etiquette and nobody more convenient to attack does not a murder suspect make, let alone somebody virtually convicted in the court of public opinion. ("Fine. Lets hang him and move on with our lives.")

How would Laci feel about the feeding frenzy that's erupted?


P.S. It's not that I'm saying he's innocent. It's that I'm bothered that his guilt or innocence, by any reasonable standard, doesn't seem to be particularly relevant at this time. That's...disturbing.
posted by effugas at 8:20 AM on February 13, 2003

Trial by Post-It.

There was a missing poster in the SF Caltrain station to which someone had added a post-it note based poll to determine his guilt. Two columns "He Did it" and "He Didn't Do it".

Photo here. (may be a little slow)
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2003

What does one do to look innocent?

Dunno, try not to look guilty?

Obviously, "looking guilty" is nothing to convict someone over. But when Scott Peterson first said that he went fishing, alone, on Christmas Eve with a pregnant wife out shopping, the first warning light in my head went off. (Turned out he was having an affair). That was the first sign of BS for me. Then, after the news of the affair, He said in a press conference that Lacy knew about the affair and she was OK with it. I can't say this is true or not true, but it seems to me like this is something you would say only if you knew someone wasn't going to be coming back to argue the point (if she was ok with it, why try and hide it from the police in the first place?). Now, I'm not saying this proves Scott was involved in the disappearance, but unless I knew something that definitely proved Scott Peterson couldn't be involved, I would at least still consider him a suspect. (I do acknowledge that he could have said these things just as an attempt to cover-up his affair).
posted by stifford at 8:42 AM on February 13, 2003

My god, another attractive white person has gone missing!

Of course the media is all over that one.
posted by xmutex at 8:44 AM on February 13, 2003

xmutex: you said what I was going to say.

I'm waiting for the media coverage of average looking minorities...
posted by owillis at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2003

I found her. She's over there.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2003

I agree with effugas, it's extremely creepy to accuse the husband of murder, based on nothing stronger than the fact that he's somewhat slimy. As for his behaviour, I bet I'd act strangely too, if the media made it a habit to regularly insinuate that I may have murdered my wife.

I'll refrain from speculation on whether Laci was murdered, kidnapped, or is on vacation in Costa Rica, as such speculation can't do any good, and it can do harm.
posted by mosch at 9:02 AM on February 13, 2003

Do you have some personal stake in this, effugas? Because neither I, nor the article you linked to, nor the Rocha family, has said that the guy obviously killed her. What everybody has said is that Peterson has not been forthcoming with the police or Laci's family- and he hasn't. My entire point was that your post pointing to this article takes into account absolutely none of the facts leading up to the article. You made it out to be a sudden, out-of-the-ether witchhunt when the family's attitude has plainly been shaped by events not mentioned in the article.

The Modesto Bee's Laci Peterson Coverage provides the foundational points behind the CNN link in the post.
posted by headspace at 9:37 AM on February 13, 2003

If everyone who cheated on their spouses eventually killed them, we'd have negative population growth.

Everybody lies about sex. Not everyone cheats. But everyone, at some point, lies.

On the flip side, most people tend to go their entire lives without killing anyone.

posted by effugas at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2003


Actually, it's Laci's stepfather's that set me off:

"About the house, the house is in both Laci's and Scott's name," Grantski said. "I find it hard to believe that he thought he could sell it without Laci's signature. I've found it hard to understand a lot of things Scott has done why should this be any different."

"He said since the first night he wanted the focus to be on Laci and not on him, but with the things he's been doing, the focus is all on him. If you want to change the focus Scott, cooperate with the Modesto Police. End this circus."

Not to mention:
"It's just little actions like that where he's trying to avoid them[the police] that make you wonder." -- Brent Rocha

I mean, I feel terrible about this. I should be able to feel some sort of sympathy for a family that's suffered such a terrible loss. But I've got no pity for lynch mobs, not even the righteous ones -- and to be honest, I feel robbed of that pity.

There's no evidence. Who knows. He might have done it. I'm not defending him. I simply observe that if Laci Peterson walked into Modesto tommorow, she'd look in the paper and quite possibly never speak to her family again.

I wouldn't care, but their hysterics just won't quit. The latest quote demands Scott "tell the truth". That's circa one hour ago.

And this'll bump out some story with actual *facts*.

posted by effugas at 10:08 AM on February 13, 2003

effugas, I agree with your vantage.
This is a dramatic missing person story and the husband is an easy suspect and target based on his actions. I saw a disturbing news clip of reporters in front of his house. One was taunting him with a bull horn, "Nobody believes you!", and Your neighbors fear you... Disgusting.
posted by xtian at 10:30 AM on February 13, 2003

Agreed, Xtian. I think I won't go looking for that footage.

I do agree that the man's behaviour is suspicious, but for God's sake if the family believes there's grounds for suspicion they should be going to the police. Or if they just have trouble with him not working on the search, they should talk to the man themselves. Discussing their complaints and their suspicions with the press is called slander, not to mention the harm that it will do to future family relations.
posted by orange swan at 11:30 AM on February 13, 2003

the family doesn't mind as long as it keeps the story current.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:59 PM on February 13, 2003

My god, another attractive white person has gone missing!

Uh, last time I checked, Rocha was a Hispanic surname. Not to mention her family certainly *looks* Hispanic.

Not that it matters.
posted by aflores at 2:24 PM on February 13, 2003

...he sold his wife's SUV and bought a new truck for himself (indicating he doesn't expect her to need a home or transportation)

I don't know that it necessarily indicates any such thing, his truck was impounded by the police and he needs a pickup truck for the type of work he does, see here. He's got to pay the bills somehow.

I also think it's strange that so much fuss was made about the insurance policy they took out shortly after she became pregnant. It seems to me that any forward-thinking couple would do the same thing (I most certainly would), pregnancy is not without risk.

I don't know whether he's innocent or guilty, but a lot of things which are being held up as suspicious also have perfectly mundane explanations.
posted by biscotti at 9:15 PM on February 13, 2003

I'm waiting for the media coverage of average looking minorities...

Didn't we have that, a while back, with the Mexican "railway Killer"?
posted by sharksandwich at 10:06 AM on February 14, 2003

Wow, there's been like, what, one or two people defending the media hysteria?

That's really, really interesting.
posted by effugas at 1:09 PM on February 14, 2003

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