Peterson had $10,000 when arrested by Calif. police

Cash may have prompted concerns about his flight

April 20, 2003|By Christine Hanley and Dan Morain | Christine Hanley and Dan Morain,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MODESTO, Calif. - Scott Peterson had $10,000 in cash with him when he was arrested in connection with the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, a law enforcement official said yesterday.

The revelation could help explain authorities' concerns that Peterson would flee, possibly to Mexico, before they could arrest him on Friday.

The law enforcement official who spoke yesterday asked not to be identified.

Law enforcement officials revealed no other new information about the investigation, leaving unanswered questions about motive and what links Peterson to the killings.

Inside the Modesto jail yesterday, Peterson was locked down, alone in a maximum-security cell as a sheriff's deputy stood watch six feet away. Peterson asked if he could get a haircut. And nearly a week after the skeletal remains of his pregnant wife, Laci, washed ashore in San Francisco Bay, and a day after his arrest, he seemed to be a bit frightened.

"He appeared calm, nervous, perhaps a little scared," said Kelly Huston, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department. "He also appears like how you would expect someone to appear who has never been in jail before."

Peterson looked thinner in a booking photo that showed him with a beard and lighter hair. The midnight booking had been caught by television and still cameras through the slats of open blinds as he removed his belt and shoes for deputies.

Outside the Modesto home he once shared with his wife, crowds were drawn unabated throughout the day, practically covering every inch of the lawn with flowers, teddy bears, toys, candles and balloons.

They used words tinged with grief and anger over a case that has riveted their farming town since Laci Peterson's disappearance on Christmas Eve.

"It's a big loss for Modesto," said Tami Kraus, 53, who knows Laci's family. "The thought of him doing something like this is beyond my comprehension."

Peterson, 30, a fertilizer salesman, has not been charged with the death of his 27-year-old wife and their unborn son, Connor, whose remains also were found on the bay shore last week.

He is expected to be arraigned early this week in the double homicide, charges that could lead to the death penalty.

Peterson was given a standard orange jail jumpsuit and has received no special treatment, Huston said. He was told that he would get a haircut when the rest of his jail wing did.

Also, Huston said, Peterson was told that a counselor was available to him if he wanted to talk. "He didn't respond," Huston said, "but his eyes welled up and it looked like he was going to cry Obviously, we are concerned about his mental health."

As of yesterday afternoon, Peterson had not met with his lawyer but spoke by cell phone with him after his arrest.

Fearing that Peterson might flee, authorities arrested him Friday near a San Diego golf course, a day after investigators positively identified the remains of his wife and unborn son.

He had been staying recently at his mother's home near San Diego, and authorities had had been tracking him for months.

Although police declined to say he was a suspect, Peterson had come under scrutiny after he admitted to having an extramarital affair.

Kirk McAllister, Peterson's attorney, who has a downtown office not far from the jail in Modesto, did not respond to phone calls yesterday.

Laci Peterson's family was secluded yesterday and had said earlier that they would not comment until after the Easter weekend. They said they would talk tomorrow afternoon.

Christine Hanley and Dan Morain write for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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