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Husband's behavior confounds Peterson family

Laci Peterson was due to give birth to a baby boy Monday.
Laci Peterson was due to give birth to a baby boy Monday.

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CNN's Rusty Dornin looks at the progress of the search for pregnant Laci Peterson, missing since Christmas Eve 2002 (February 10)
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MODESTO, California (CNN) -- The family of Laci Peterson says that her husband seems less involved in the missing pregnant woman's case, and that his behavior has left them with more questions than answers.

Family members spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon and then appeared later on CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight."

Peterson's older brother, Brent Rocha, said it has been a few weeks since he last spoke to his brother-in-law, Scott Peterson. When the family calls Scott, Rocha said, the conversations are brief, and Scott has not taken part in organized searches to find his wife.

"He's been out of town," Rocha said. "He's just not around, he's not participating, he's not working together with us."

A reporter asked whether there was anything Scott Peterson could do to demonstrate concern.

"At this point in time, I don't think there's anything he can do," Rocha said. "I don't think he's handled this whole situation in an appropriate manner. The time to plead for Laci's return should have been in the beginning, not now, six weeks later."

Rocha also said Scott Peterson had given conflicting statements to the media, especially about the affair he has acknowledged having with Fresno resident Amber Frey.

Laci Peterson disappeared December 24. Her husband said he bid good-bye to her in the morning as he left on a fishing trip alone; when he returned home later in the day, she was gone.

Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, said police have not eliminated her son-in-law as a suspect even though they quickly ruled out Frey, who has acknowledged having a romantic relationship with Scott Peterson.

start quoteHe's a different person right now. He's not acting like he's missing my sister.end quote
-- Brent Rocha, Laci's brother

"So there are obviously some questions that have been left unanswered," she said.

Sharon Rocha also expressed doubts about the husband's claim that Laci knew about the affair and had accepted it.

"She was a happy, upbeat person," she said. "We would have noticed a difference in her attitude. If she had known about it, I truly feel that she would have told somebody ... and nobody was aware of it."

Brent Rocha said the family supported Scott early on because they considered him part of the family, and had no reason to question him.

"But then questions did arise, and we tried to get answers for those, and things weren't answered," he said.

Though everyone grieves differently, Brent said, he is surprised his brother-in-law has not simply kept in touch with the rest of the family or been involved in search efforts to find his missing wife.

"He's a different person right now," Brent Rocha said. "He's not acting like he's missing my sister."

Monday was the day Laci Peterson, 27, was due to give birth to the couple's first child, a boy. Sharon Rocha said the passing of the day was painful.

"It's been very difficult, extremely difficult," she said. "We were hoping to have Laci home by this time."

When Chung asked whether she had a message for Laci, Rocha said she would urge her daughter not to give up. "I want her home and we're looking for her and not to give up, that we're still searching. We'll never give up looking for Laci."

The family is planning to have the second of three volunteer searches Saturday at the Don Pedro Reservoir in Tuolumne County, just east of Modesto. Another search is planned February 22 near Lake Pardee, north of Modesto.

Last Saturday, about 500 volunteers showed up to search an area in Vernalis, west of the city.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Modesto Police Department's anonymous hotline at (209) 342-6166.

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