Scott Peterson jailed in wife's death
Remains of Laci Peterson, unborn son identified
MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Scott Peterson was being held Saturday in a Modesto, California, jail on suspicion of killing his pregnant wife, Laci, whose remains and those of their unborn boy were found washed up on the San Francisco Bay shore, authorities said.
Peterson was jailed earlier in the day after being arrested Friday morning in San Diego. He is scheduled for an arraignment hearing Monday. If charged and convicted of double murder, he could face the death penalty.
Investigators said Saturday they had been close to arresting Peterson, 30, even before the bodies were discovered earlier this week.
"We believed that we were very close to having the information to make an arrest in this case," Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden told CNN.
"Of course, the discovery of the remains really accelerated everything forward. But the detectives were working toward that conclusion."
Sources close to the investigation told CNN that on March 12 and 13 investigators -- using sonar underwater detection equipment -- located something they believed was a body at the bottom of the bay.
Bad weather and ships' wakes -- the search area is in shipping lanes -- kept them from investigating further.
If what police detected in March was the sunken body of Laci Peterson, investigators say the weather and wakes may have loosened it from whatever may have been holding it underwater.
Wasden said investigators plan to return to the area with the sonar equipment to search for more remains.
A changing appearance
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in a Friday news conference just before the official announcement of Scott Peterson's arrest that DNA tests positively had identified the remains as those of Laci and her unborn boy.
The disappearance Christmas Eve of Laci Peterson, 27, then eight months pregnant, captured national attention and resulted in widespread searches through much of the state.
Scott Peterson, a fertilizer salesman, said he had last seen his wife before going on a fishing trip during the day on Christmas Eve to the Berkeley Marina in Richmond. The location is a few miles from where the bodies washed ashore nearly four months later.
In Modesto, onlookers cheered when Peterson arrived at the Stanislaus County jail. He emerged from an unmarked police car wearing a white polo shirt and khaki shorts.
Peterson, with hair noticeably lighter than before and a new Vandyke beard, was officially placed in custody at the county jail just after midnight.
Could become a capital case
He likely will be arraigned Monday in Stanislaus County on charges of capital murder with special circumstances, said District Attorney Jim Brazelton.
The special circumstances are because the case involves a double homicide, which would make Peterson eligible for the death penalty if convicted, Brazelton said, but his office has not decided yet whether to seek it.
If a pregnant woman is killed and it results in the death of the unborn child, the crime can be ruled a double homicide under California law, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Additional police work will be required before the case comes to trial, Wasden said. "We will continue to wrap up loose ends [and] cooperate with the district attorney," he said.
Kim Petersen, a spokeswoman for Laci's family, the Rochas, read a brief statement from them at the news conference.
"Just as Christmas Eve is a family time, Easter is also a time for families. We request that you would allow our family to have this weekend to deal with these recent developments together in private," said Petersen, who is not related to Scott Peterson.
The family will make a public statement Monday at 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT), she said.
Wasden said the family was "just devastated" Friday after learning of the DNA match.
Arrested near Mexico
Authorities had monitored Peterson whereabouts for days before his arrest and feared he might flee to Mexico if he became aware of the latest developments in the case.
Wasden said detectives secured an arrest warrant for him Thursday afternoon -- more than 24 hours before the DNA results were complete.
"He was in San Diego, near the border and ... perhaps since he was aware of the fact that there was surveillance that he might try to run," Lockyer said.
The arrest took place in the Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course parking lot, witnesses said.
A motive was unclear, Lockyer said. But he said the fact Peterson was having an extramarital affair might have contributed to the alleged crime.
Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf said no cause of death for Laci and her baby had been determined.
The body of the unborn baby boy, who was due to be born in February and was already named Connor, was found Sunday by someone walking along a trail at the Point Isabel Regional Park, which is adjacent to San Francisco Bay.
Laci's body was found washed up on rocks the next day, slightly more than one mile from where the baby's body was discovered, authorities said.
The park in Richmond is about 90 miles west-northwest of Modesto, but only a few miles from the Berkeley Marina, where Scott told investigators he went fishing the day his wife disappeared.