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Law enforcement officials defend Peterson case

Modesto chief: 'The investigation took us where it took us'

Scott Peterson's parents say their son, shown here at his arraignment in the deaths of his wife and unborn son, is innocent.
Scott Peterson's parents say their son, shown here at his arraignment in the deaths of his wife and unborn son, is innocent.

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CNN's Rusty Dornin profiles Scott Peterson, who faces two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son.
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CNN's Eric Horng looks at the Laci Peterson case, from her disappearance on Christmas Eve to recent tragic developments.
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MODESTO, California (CNN) Hours before Scott Peterson was formally charged with killing his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son Monday, law enforcement officials defended themselves against charges by his parents that he was being railroaded.

"I know that that is a frustration to Scott's family, but ... the investigation took us where it took us," Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden said Monday.

Investigators had a solid case against Peterson even without the recovery of the remains of his wife and son, Wasden told CNN.

"We'll lay those facts out as the case goes forward to trial," Wasden said. "That's the way the system works."

Over the weekend, Scott Peterson's parents slammed the investigation, telling Time magazine that Modesto police "bungled" the probe, misled Laci's parents and ignored evidence that didn't fit their theory.

"Our son is innocent. We know that. We've known it from day one," Scott's father, Lee Peterson, said.

"You have a district attorney calling this a slam-dunk before there's even an arraignment," Scott's mother, Jackie, said in a Time interview. "I'm feeling like I'm living in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union." (Read the interview)

She also said Modesto police discredited anyone who claimed to have seen Laci after December 23, when she spoke on the phone with her mother.

A Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman expressed sympathy to the families of both Scott and Laci Peterson.

"As you can imagine, having your son facing capital murder charges is quite a shock," Kelly Huston said. "This is a really difficult tragedy for both these families to be dealing with, and they're going to be in [it] for the long haul."

Peterson family: Other pregnant women missing

Scott's wife, Laci, disappeared sometime after the conversation with her mother. She was due to deliver the couple's baby February 10.

The remains of the fetus was found April 13 along a shoreside trail at Point Isabel Regional Park, on San Francisco Bay. The next day, about one-and-a-quarter miles away, Laci Peterson's body was found.

State authorities announced Friday that DNA tests proved that two bodies were the missing woman and her unborn son.

In the Time article, the suspect's parents said at least two other pregnant women are missing in the Bay area and that the body of a third was recovered in January.

They parents hinted that an area parolee might be responsible, Time correspondent Jill Underwood said.

Wasden said divers would return to the area where the Peterson bodies were found to search for more evidence. The site is a few miles from the marina where Scott Peterson said he had gone fishing the day his wife disappeared. Police verified that a receipt he produced was from the Berkeley Marina that day.

Sources close to the investigation said investigators using sonar found what they believed to be a body beneath the bay during a search March 12 and 13. Bad weather and ship's wakes kept them from investigating further.

Laci Peterson's family initially stood by her husband, until police provided them evidence that he had been having an affair shortly before she disappeared.

Police searched the couple's home in December and again over two days in February.

During that second search, detectives scoured the yard and sheds on the property, as well as Peterson's white Dodge Ram truck, which was later impounded. Peterson bought the truck five weeks after his wife disappeared. His Ford 150 pickup truck and his 14-foot boat were impounded shortly after he reported his wife missing.

Authorities said 95 items were collected for processing during the second search. The criminal complaint against Scott Peterson names the house as the crime scene.

The double homicide charge makes Peterson eligible for the death penalty, said Stanislaus County District Attorney Jim Brazelton. He said his office has not decided whether to seek that penalty.

-- CNN correspondent Rusty Dornin contributed to this report.

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