Christmas is coming. Though many people love this time of year, I'm certain that it's become a very painful season for Sharon Rocha and her family. On Christmas Eve in 2002, Sharon Rocha's very pregnant daughter, Laci Peterson, went missing. Months later, Laci and her late-term fetus, a boy who was to be named Conner, were found in the San Francisco Bay. They had been murdered by Laci's husband, Scott Peterson, a man who had always presented himself as a perfect gentleman but turned out to be a monster.
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I well remember the events surrounding the Laci Peterson case. Back when it was hot news, not a day passed that there wasn't some kind of news story about the vibrant missing 27 year old woman and her handsome husband, who had seemed so oddly detached from the massive search efforts that had been going on before her murder was confirmed. Sharon Rocha lived through the nightmare of losing her daughter, her grandson, and the son-in-law she had always believed really loved his wife. Worse, it seemed like everyone remotely connected to the Peterson case was trying to cash in, writing books, making movies, and granting interviews to high profile journalists. I can only suspect that as Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha suffered a great deal as she watched what was going on. In late 2005, as a tribute to Laci and Conner, Rocha penned her own book, For Laci: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, and Justice.
I recently downloaded Rocha's book to my Kindle. Unfortunately, my Kindle bit the dust over Thanksgiving, so I had to finish reading it on my computer. I usually like to read when I'm in bed, but I found Sharon Rocha's take on the case so compelling that I managed to fly through her book on my iMac in a matter of a couple of days.
Sharon Rocha writes lovingly and tenderly about her experiences as Laci's mother, starting at the very beginning when she and Laci's father, Dennis Rocha, met and married as youngsters. Though their marriage didn't work out, they were able to co-parent Laci and her older brother, Brent, in California. Laci was always a bubbly, popular, talented young lady who had a knack for making things grow. She was an award winning ornamental horticulture student at California Polytechnic State University when she met Scott Peterson, an attractive, charming, young man who seemed to be destined for great things. Sharon Rocha explains that the whole family loved Scott and were delighted when they married. Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that this man would so cruelly and callously snuff out Laci's life as he had an affair with Amber Frey, a massage therapist from Fresno.
This is the third book I've read about Laci Peterson. I wouldn't ordinarily read so many books about one case, but For Laci was bargain priced for the Kindle. I have to say, of the three books I have read about Scott and Laci Peterson, Sharon Rocha's book from the perspective of Laci's mother is by far the best. I found myself really identifying with how she must have felt, finding out that the man her daughter had married was a sociopath whose family seemed equally sociopathic.
Speaking of Scott Peterson's family, Sharon Rocha spares nothing when she writes about how she and her companion, Ron, were treated by them. I was shocked and outraged for Sharon and her family when Sharon requested to be able to collect some of Laci's personal items-- her wedding dress, her high school cheerleading uniform, some lamps that she had inherited from her grandmother-- and Jackie and Lee Peterson allegedly refused to cooperate with them. In fact, in reading about Scott Peterson's parents, I got an idea of why he turned out the way he did. They certainly don't seem like very nice people.
Rocha also goes into detail about Scott Peterson's court case and the pain she endured, listening to the proceedings. The court case put her and the rest of Laci's family at odds with the Peterson family. I found myself imagining how I would have coped, having to be in a similar situation. That whole situation must have been brutal, particularly since this case was so high profile. Besides dealing with the pain of losing her daughter and grandson, Sharon Rocha also had to deal with the public and the paparazzi. I must say, she handled everything with incredible grace, even as she admits to her honest feelings about her family's tragic situation.
For those who are wondering, Sharon Rocha also writes a bit about Amber Frey. I happened to read Amber Frey's book, mainly because I got it very cheaply at a thrift shop. My initial impressions of Frey's book were positive; it wasn't as sleazy as I thought it would be. It was still very interesting to read about Sharon Rocha's take on the affair. She's very classy and handles herself very impressively as Amber Frey sits in her living room and describes what happened between her and Scott Peterson. Rocha understands that Amber Frey was lied to just like everyone else was, but she also seems to think that Frey wanted to cash in on her fifteen minutes of fame.
Rocha also includes some anecdotes about meeting people who were touched by Laci's murder. She reprints the lyrics of a beautiful song that one woman in Alabama wrote in honor of Laci and Conner, and includes some moving stories about other people who had lost loved ones to murder.
The Scott Peterson trial is long over and he's now cooling his heels on death row in a California prison. I'm not generally a fan of the death penalty, although I do think that Scott Peterson probably deserves it. Nevertheless, it's likely that he will die of old age, given California's famously slow death row process. If Scott Peterson had committed his crimes in my home state of Virginia, he'd probably be dead by now.
In any case, for those who still want to read about Laci Peterson and her unborn son's murder, I would highly recommend For Laci. It is by far the best of the three books I've read about this case and is written with much love and respect. Ultimately, I feel like Sharon Rocha has done the best she could possibly do in telling her daughter's story. And I hope this holiday season will bring Sharon Rocha and the rest of Laci's family some much deserved peace and joy.
Laci Peterson's official Web site: www.lacipeterson.com
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