IS THIS THE KNIFE THAT KILLED LACI?

Published on: July 13, 2005
Laci Peterson

By DON GENTILE

Police have ordered the forensic examination of a blood-stained knife that could have been used by Scott Peterson to slaughter his pregnant wife Laci.

The wood-handled butcher's knife was found July 7 in the backyard of the Modesto, California, home where Laci and Scott lived for four years.

The dramatic development promises to shed new light on the way the 27-year-old woman died at the hands of her brutal husband.

Until now, police believed Scott suffocated Laci in their home before sending her body to a watery grave in San Francisco Bay. The discovery of the knife could reveal that he actually gutted his wife.

Real estate agent Gerry Roberts, who recently bought the Peterson home, turned over the grisly weapon to Modesto police Det. Craig Grogan, the lead investigator on the Peterson murder case.

As our exclusive photo shows, the knife — with a serrated 10-inch blade — appears to have blood stains on it. Roberts said a workman hired to do some landscaping in the backyard found it.

He told The National Enquirer: "There's a cabinet out in the back yard attached to the house. It has a ceramic tile top and a sink in it. Underneath is a space where there used to be a small refrigerator. Laci's parents had taken the refrigerator when they were retrieving possessions. My worker was nosing around in the vacant space and he found the knife. He got really scared."

Roberts described the knife, saying: "There is this dried red stuff on the handle and blade. It's a big, old nasty-looking knife. And, to be honest, I don't know how the police overlooked it. All they had to do was move the refrigerator."

Roberts said he asked Detective Grogan how police missed finding the knife when they were investigating Laci's disappearance. "He just looked at me with a blank stare and didn't say anything," Roberts said.

Modesto police did not return calls for a comment but a police source confirmed that the knife was retrieved and sent for testing.

"We want to see if it has blood on it and if it's a match for Laci's blood. We also want to do DNA testing on it," the source said.

Detective Grogan showed up at the Peterson home with a crime scene cop. He interviewed the worker who found the knife for more than an hour, taking notes and taping the interview.

According to Roberts, Laci's family is interested in the knife, too. "I know the fellow that goes out with Amy Rocha, Laci's sister," he said. "I told him about the knife and he told Amy. Laci's parents called me up to get the details. They want to know how she died. It's more closure for them."

The mystery surrounding the way Laci died has haunted the case since she vanished on Christmas Eve 2002. It was compounded even more when her remains and those of her unborn child Conner washed up the following April. Both bodies were badly decomposed. Laci's body had no head and very little flesh. Coroners could not determine a cause of death.

But since there was no sign of blood found in the home, police theorized that Scott suffocated Laci, possibly with a pillow. Scott reported Laci missing after returning from what he said was a fishing trip in San Francisco Bay. The search for the missing pregnant woman became international news but cops soon began to suspect Scott had murdered Laci.

The suspicions grew when massage therapist Amber Frey revealed she was having an affair with Scott, unaware he was a philandering husband.

Taped conversations she made for police revealed Scott to be a despicable charlatan who lied time and time again.

Just days after Laci and Conner's bodies were discovered, Scott was arrested for the murders.

In his six-month trial that ended November 2004, Scott was convicted and received the death penalty. He is currently on Death Row at San Quentin prison.

Scott has never made any admissions about the crime.