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Modesto Police Spokesman Briefs Press

Aired January 11, 2003 - 18:16   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The family of Laci Peterson is holding out hope she will be found alive. The divers scouring the San Francisco Bay have found a boat anchor, but it is not clear if that is the item picked up on the sonar in the search two days ago. We are expecting a press conference any moment. Obviously, we will bring that to you live.
Also standing by right now, CNN's Rusty Dornin in Modesto, California with the latest -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, one of the reasons we've been standing by for just about an hour for this press conference is they don't want to step up to the microphones until all the divers have come back and they have absolutely concluded this search.

We've been watching a couple of the boats come back and they have been unloading their equipment. So I think we are fast approaching the time that they will step up to the microphones.

But they were searching a 2,200 square foot area and they apparently did find an anchor but it is unclear at this point whether that was what the side scanning sonar picked up. But we have not heard any other reports of anything else.

The family was called earlier in the day and told that that's what they had found. And of course, Scott Peterson's sister and Laci Peterson's best friend were greatly relieved.


STACY BOYER, FRIEND OF LACI'S: It's frustrating now knowing now, still, but it is a relief that it wasn't here. It was a boat anchor.

SUSAN CAUDILLO, SCOTT PETERSON'S SISTER: It could have been a fender, we would have laughed at that just as much, but a boat anchor is pretty funny, too.


DORNIN: So, we are expecting them to step up to the microphones and say that's pretty much what they found. The sad part of this whole thing is that if that indeed was what the sonar detected, that this case is right back where it was last week. And that means absolutely now leads, no strong leads at this point, and no sign or indication of what happened to Laci Peterson -- Anderson. COOPER: Well, that was going to be my question, I mean, are there any other avenues that they are pursuing? I remember the last I heard, you know, a lot of tips had poured in. Has anything come of any of those tips?

DORNIN: They've had a lot of tips. In fact, they had a lot of tips even on people claim that they had seen Scott Peterson up at the Berkeley Marina, like 300 tips, and not one of those turned out to be credible.

So, they've had a lot of tips they've been pursuing, a lot of what they call scenarios, but they're not giving any more weight to one than another. So, basically, right now they have no strong leads in this case.

COOPER: Now, Rusty, we're looking at a live picture right now, at the Berkeley Marina, of police conferring. I guess some of them are divers coming up from this search. Tell us a little bit about why the focus on the Berkeley Marina. I'm assuming it is because that is where Scott Peterson says he went fishing. Is that the sole reason they're there?

DORNIN: That's the sole reason they were there. They did do a search last weekend. Came back, and one of the policemen that you see in that picture is one of the head searchers from here, from Modesto, Sergeant Ron Cloward, they found a tarp when they had searched the one time.

The sonar had picked up a tarp. And Sergeant Cloward was not satisfied that they had searched enough area around where that tarp was found, which apparently right off the pier, the Berkeley Pier. So that's what they did, they ended up going off the Berkeley Pier.

And I guess this press conference is just about to start here, so we can see what they are going to say.

COOPER: This is Sergeant Ron Cloward, Modesto Police.

SGT. RON CLOWARD, MODESTO POLICE: Well, let me just start with -- what I'm going to do is I'm going to read a statement to you. And as we've told you all from the get-go, we are not going to hold press conferences at search sites. So we are not going to be answering any questions out here.

I'm going to read you a statement. There will be a press release that will be put out later. Once I return and I'm able to sit down with the chief and Detective Ridenour.

We've concluded our search -- before I go on to this, I want first remember to thank Berkeley P.D., Alameda County Sheriff's Department and the Alameda County Search & Rescue, Solano County Sheriff's Department, as well. They were instrumental in helping us out today.

We've concluded our search today of the Berkeley Marina. The dive teams located in the area where we were searching and the object that were concerned about ended up being an anchor, that had sunk down into the bottom part the bay.

The anchor was not removed because they couldn't get it out of the bottom. It is stuck in there pretty good. The side scan sonar was brought back through the area. We check it, which is one of the reasons why you folks had to wait so long over here, to confirm that the area was clear of any other objects. And there are no other objects located in the area.

That will conclude what I have to say here.

QUESTION: Sergeant Cloward can you just tell us what happens now. (OFF MIKE)

CLOWARD: Can't tell you. We'll get -- we're done for now.


CLOWARD: I don't even know what time it was when they located it. They got the information back to me.

COOPER: Listening to Sergeant Ron Cloward, of the Modesto Police, basically saying that the area that they had been searching, where so much attention had been in the Berkeley Marina, they basically wound up not finding anything. Finding this anchor that had appeared up on the sonar. Obviously, a sense of disappointment and also relief for many in the Laci Peterson's family.

We go now to Rusty Dornin standing by in Modesto.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, I had a lot of questions when they first came up with this find. Why couldn't they tell the difference between an anchor and human body on the bottom of the bay there? Because apparently these side scanning sonars are so accurate.

And we did speak to an expert in that sonar who said the anchor could have been in the water for a very long time. Might be encrusted with barnacles and mollusks. And it would give back a very different signature, because most metal containers give back a very distinctive, very what they call bright signature, or a pang, whereas a human body, the return on the signal is not as strong.

But because this anchor may be encrusted in organic material it may not have given a very clear signal. Also, Wednesday, when they actually put the sonar in the water, apparently it was very windy. And that wind can affect the signals on the sonar. But as you said, very disappointing at this point, and investigators left with just really out any leads.

COOPER: All right, Rusty Dornin, standing by in Modesto following this investigation. Thanks very much. A very sad day in the sad search for 27-year-old Laci Peterson, eight months pregnant. Today would have been her baby shower.


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