Is Scott Peterson Innocent? 4 Theories About Laci Peterson's Murder That Could Prove He Didn't Kill His Wife

Details about the 2002 murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner remain unclear.

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On Christmas Eve, 2002, Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant, went missing. Her body and the body of her unborn son, Conner, wouldn't be found till the following April.

Though an official cause of death was never determined, her husband, Scott Peterson, was convicted of Laci and Conner's murders and sentenced to the death penalty.

But according to Peterson's sister-in-law, Janey Peterson, "Scott did not get a fair trial," and she says she has evidence of his innocence that will exonerate him once and for all.


“The justice system has failed here, and a lot of aspects have failed,” Peterson told CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti. “And it started with the Modesto Police Department. And it started with the fact that they didn’t follow up on evidence that showed Laci was alive the morning of December 24.”

Is Scott Peterson innocent?

No one but Scott knows for sure, but his sister-in-law says Scott, who was convicted of first degree murder for Laci's death and second degree murder for Conner's, is innocent.

As she tells it, there are neighbors who saw Laci the morning of her disappearance, as well as a witness who puts Laci at the site of a burglary across the street from the home she shared with Scott. Janey theorizes Laci attempted to intervene and was kidnapped, then murdered. Police, however, say the robbery happened two days after Laci's disappearance.


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On the other hand, one of the case's original detectives, Jon Buehler, is skeptical that anything could prove Scott Peterson's innocence.

"Well I guess it's possible," he said. "But you know, there's still people that believe the earth is flat, too."


Laci Peterson's case has captivated the country for nearly 20 years.

In a surprising turn of events on August 24, 2020, California's highest court reversed her husband's sentencing for the murder charges, citing that "potential jurors were dismissed erroneously" because they "expressed general objections to the death penalty on a questionnaire."

The judge assigned to his trial also “made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase."

So, while Peterson's murder charges still hold up, he was given the chance to face a lesser sentence before a "properly selected" jury.

It has now also been revealed by Peterson's attorneys that Richelle Nice, known as Juror 7 or "Strawberry Shortcake" during the trial, committed juror misconduct by hiding that she had been a crime victim, saying she "failed to disclose her boyfriend beat her in 2001 while she was pregnant."


Richelle was one of nine jurors who co-authored a book about the case, titled "We, the Jury: Deciding the Scott Peterson Case."

“It is apparent from her conduct before, during, and after the trial that during (jury selection) she failed to disclose numerous incidents that posed threats of harm to her unborn children,” Peterson’s lawyers said. “This enabled her to sit in judgment of Mr. Peterson for the crime of harming his unborn child.”

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Though he was consistently called out for his "unemotional" and "sociopathic" behavior during the whole ordeal, discovered to be a serial cheater and had basically all the circumstantial evidence in the world pointing in his direction, Scott has maintained his innocence all along.

Obviously, this is not uncommon of convicted murderers.

And if it weren't for the lack of DNA evidence and the multiple other leads that the police seemingly ignored, this case may not have garnered all the attention it did in 2002.

It's 2021 now, and we're still not sure how Laci Peterson died or who killed her.

The case was explored in depth in the A&E docu-series titled "The Murder of Laci Peterson" that aired in 2017.


To increase the hype surrounding this new series — which is just one of the many that have happened since Scott Peterson's conviction — a recording from a phone call in June he had with his sister-in-law was released.

Peterson himself hadn't spoken out since he was sentenced to death for the murders.

"I wasn't the last one to see Laci that day," he said. "There were so many witnesses who saw her walking in the neighborhood after I left. The police failed to find my family."

Scott also described what it was like for him to hear the verdict, and said that he had a horrible physical reaction that nobody but Scott Peterson probably cares about.

Here's the thing: Scott didn't try very hard to get the world's sympathy. There was tons of speculation while Laci was missing that he might have been involved, and when her body was found and he was arrested, everyone was quick to paint him as a monster.


And he very well could be. While there was no huge piece of hard evidence that tied him to his wife and unborn child's murder, there were a lot of little pieces that made you seriously question if this guy ever cared about his family.

Multiple reports describe Scott as polite but "removed from the situation." Not like the typical distraught husband we're used to seeing.

The voicemail he left on Laci's phone when he was on his way home from a solo fishing trip had unusual flowery and romantic language for a couple who's been married for five years.

Laci Peterson Case Recap:

Two weeks after Laci disappeared, we learned that Scott was having an affair with a woman named Amber. Later, we learned this wasn't his only incident of infidelity.


Laci and Conner, the name the couple had given their unborn baby boy, washed up from the San Francisco Bay only a day apart. They were found near the same area where Scott had taken that solo fishing trip.

When he was arrested, he had dyed his hair blonde, grown a goatee was driving a car that wasn't his, was close to the Mexican border, and had $15,000 in cash, along with dozens of other items that would suggest he was about to flee the country.

Even with just that basic information — and trust me, you can dive deep into the rabbit hole with this case — it's easy to see why practically the entire country thinks Scott did it.

But there was never that hard piece of evidence — or any hard piece of evidence, really — that linked him to Laci's death, begging the question: What if he didn't do it?


Which begs the tougher question: If Scott Peterson didn't kill his wife, then who did?

That side of the case has yet to be fully explored by professional and highly-trained detectives. So, for now, you have just me, roaming the internet to find some theories about whether or Scott Peterson is innocent.

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Here are the theories I've found, ranging from "that could make sense" to "only in a horror movie."

4 Theories That Have Some People Thinking Scott Peterson is Innocent of Laci Peterson's Murder

1. Someone abducted Laci Peterson while she was walking her dog — and then had the opportunity to frame her husband for the crime.

While police have said that Scott was the last person to see her alive, he's revealed in the new documentary that dozens of other witnesses saw his wife walking their dog the day she went missing. Scott's lawyers have condemned the detectives for not following up on these witnesses and leads that a group of homeless people or men in a "suspicious van" kidnapped the soon-to-be-mother.


Scott found the dog with the leash still attached to its collar in their backyard. It was later learned that a neighbor found the dog running around the street and returned it home, figuring it had just gotten out.

In this theory, his lawyers said that whoever abducted Laci during that walk could have gotten the idea to frame her husband from all the media frenzy surrounding her disappearance. They could have easily known that Scott had gone on a fishing trip that day — he was compliant with police in telling him the details of his location — and picked the same spot to dump the bodies.

When Laci's body was found, parts of her limbs (including her head) were missing and plastic tape was wrapped around the neck of her child. Her body was so decomposed that a cause of death couldn't be determined, but tape was also found on Laci's lower torso, outside of her clothing. A forensic pathologist said her limbs were probably removed before she was put into the water.

Because the baby's skin wasn't decomposed, they believe he stayed in his mother's womb up until days before they were found. That's what's called a coffin birth when a fetus is expelled from the body of a woman who died while pregnant.


Also, a plastic bag was found near Laci's remains that Scott's lawyers believed could have provided a lead to the real suspect. Though no blood or tissue was found on the bag, a detective said he noticed a "decomposition smell" on it, but it was never mentioned in the police reports and was delayed for discussion for several days in the trial.

2. Lacy Peterson was abducted and killed trying to intervene in a burglary that was happening across the street.

A neighbor who lived across the street from the Peterson's said during her testimony in Scott's trial that her home had been burglarized around the same time Laci disappeared.

Somewhere between the morning of Dec. 24 and the afternoon Dec. 26 while Susan Medina was out of town, someone broke into her home and stole 75 pieces of jewelry and two handguns.

Scott's defense argued that Laci might have been abducted during the burglary, and Medina said there appeared to be little logic to the crime. A tool box was also stolen, but hundreds of dollars in cash and a Mercedes were left behind.


In 2003, police arrested two men for the burglary and no connection to Laci (that we know of) was ever found.

Medina also said that the neighborhood the media had painted as quiet and idyllic was riddled with crime and homeless people. She said vagrants made their round through the neighborhood a few times a week.

3. Someone Laci Peterson knew planned her murder (and the framing of Scott Peterson) because they wanted the expensive jewelry she inherited from her grandmother.

According to Laci's aunt, she had just inherited over $100,000 in jewelry from her grandmother's estate a month before she disappeared.

Two jewelers confirmed that they appraised the jewelry for Laci and Scott, saying that the pregnant woman asked them to appraise the jewelry and then remarked that her husband would be very happy with the $100K result.


The couple also pawned some less expensive jewelry for a few hundred dollars, which prosecutors found odd due to the other appraisals they had in the works.

Officials said the jewelry stolen in the neighbor's burglary was similar to that owned by Laci.

Her aunt said that after Laci disappeared, she inventoried her jewelry and noticed a watch and a pair of two-carat diamond earrings were missing.


During the trial, Scott's lawyer showed a receipt for a pawn shop that showed someone sold a watch, identical to the one the aunt claimed was missing.

He didn't say whose name was on the receipt but indicated that it wasn't Scott's. We never learned who that person was.

4. She was abducted and killed by a satanic cult who wanted her baby.

In the beginning of the investigation into Laci's disappearance, police received an anonymous tip that she had been abducted by a satanic cult.

A furniture store owner was reported saying that police called him about the disappearance and said they heard a cult was being run out of his building. He told them he had never heard of such a thing.


Though that was the end of the cult theory for police, Scott's defense team brought it up during the trial. His lawyer said he was working on a lead that cult members abducted Laci in a brown van.

In an interview, Scott's lawyer suggested there might be a link between Laci's disappearance and an unsolved case of another pregnant woman, Evelyn Hernandez, who went missing on May 1 in 2002 in San Francisco.

He said both of those dates are marked as holy days on the satanic calendar.

Scott's lawyers also referenced the 1990 killings by the Order of the Lion, a satanic cult responsible for the deaths of four people. Three members are currently on death row, and two others are serving life sentences. Police believed there were 20 to 30 members in the cult.


In diaries found during the 1990 investigation, members wrote that sacrificing a newborn was the purest thing you could do.

The defense used this angle when the autopsy found that there was a small incision made on baby Conner and the fact that evidence still doesn't know if he was born or not.

Laci Peterson's family is "worried" that Scott Peterson will go free.

A source close to the Peterson family said that because Peterson's death sentence penalty was overturned, they're worried he'll go free if he gets a retrial.

"This Christmas is different than last Christmas," the source said. "The holidays are always hard for them because Laci was taken from them on Christmas Eve. But now, with the thought that Scott could eventually go free? That's devastating. The family is really worried."


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Emily Blackwood is an Editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, dating, relationships and everything in between. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.