Police didn't have to look far to find a suspect in the disappearance of Laci Peterson: Her husband, Scott Peterson, was almost immediately under scrutiny

By Adam Carlson
August 22, 2017 10:48 AM

Police didn’t have to look far to find a suspect in the disappearance and death of Laci Peterson: Her husband, Scott Peterson, was almost immediately under scrutiny, thanks in part to his being her spouse — and because of how he acted after she vanished.

“His overall demeanor was so off from what they had seen in their experience as investigators that they completely zeroed in on him,” Ted Rowlands, a local TV reporter, explains in an exclusive clip from Tuesday night’s episode of A&E’s six-part The Murder of Laci Peterson, which retraces the case’s history.

According to Jon Buehler, now a retired police detective and then an investigator looking into what happened to Laci, her husband’s behavior was “strange for the circumstances.”

For example, “that first night,” he says in the clip above, Scott seemed overly conscientious of the neatness and orderliness of his home — quick to offer a coaster to go with a drink, or to make sure a car door wasn’t dinged in a search.

“To me, it doesn’t seem like that’s something that would be important to you if your loved one was missing,” Buehler says.

Another investigator on the case, detective Al Brocchini, echoed that in a previous PEOPLE interview, saying then, “[Scott’s] major concerns were not Laci. His major concerns were his car door hitting his other car door in the driveway, or me taking a picture of this boat in his shop, or getting a receipt for the pink slipper and sunglasses the tracking-dog people used for Laci’s scent. He was concerned about the wrong things on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.”

As authorities would learn, Scott was indeed hiding something.

He was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and their unborn son, Conner. His conviction on first- and second-degree murder counts came nearly two years after Laci, his 27-year-old wife of five years, apparently vanished near her home in Modesto, California, on Dec. 24, 2002.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Laci Peterson
Family photo via The Modesto Bee/AP
Scott Peterson (center) in court in 2004
Modesto Bee/AP Photo

The revelation that Scott had an unwitting mistress at the time of Laci’s disappearance fueled the suspicion about him and the woman, Amber Frey, was a key witness for prosecutors. Citing a largely circumstantial case, authorities argued Scott killed Laci and Conner before tossing their bodies in the San Francisco Bay.

The Murder of Laci Peterson traces Scott’s crimes and prosecution and includes significant access to his family, who maintain his innocence alongside him. In the exclusive clip from episode two, his sister-in-law Janey casts doubt on the veracity of the police case against him, noting the lack of physical evidence — a familiar rebuke.

“There was information being leaked out that the house smelled like bleach,” she says. “That kind of implied Scott cleaned something up, and it turned out not to be true.”

Scott himself has said he was “staggered” by his murder conviction. Laci’s family and the law feel otherwise.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that justice was served,” her mother told the Modesto Bee last year. “Scott Peterson is guilty.”

The Murder of Laci Peterson continues Tuesday (10 p.m. ET) on A&E.