Wednesday, January 25, 2006

EVP and the Watery Grave

In mid-March, Laci was still missing and Scott had yet to be arrested or even named a suspect. Sharon, frustrated by the slow progress and desperate to find her daughter, checked the website for messages left by psychics. An e-mail titled “Did EVP Solve The Laci Peterson Case” caught her attention. According to the psychic, Scott had taken Laci "to the marina and either tied her to or dumped her body near the fifth buoy off the Albany Bulb, a point north of the Berkeley pier." The psychic also conveyed "a sense of urgency, saying that storms and shifting tides were moving her body around and she needed to be recovered quickly."

The following day, March 16, Sharon (accompanied by her sister Susie Aquino and Susie's husband Gil) went to the Berkeley Marina to check it out for herself. The three walked the path that runs along the shoreline and around Cesar Chavez Park, stopping frequently to gaze out at the water with binoculars to search for some sign of Laci's presence. They visited the boat ramp where Scott launched his Gamefisher on Christmas Eve. Finally, they drove north to the Albany Bulb and stared out at the water again. Sharon reluctantly left, feeling certain that Laci was there in the dark, cold water, just as the psychic had written.

I can’t explain it, but I felt her, and in the moments before we left, I told God that I wanted to see something, some kind of sign, that would help me find her. I was ready to handle it, I thought. I stared out at that place where water and sky converged and I felt an umbilical tug between me and my daughter. She was there, I was certain. I had to force myself to walk away.As we drove away, I felt guilty, like I was abandoning Laci.
Months later, I learned two facts that explained why I was so compelled to go to Berkeley and why I felt Laci’s presence there. First, around the time I had been at the marina, the side-scan sonar used by the officers searching the bay had detected what they thought was Laci’s body. But the currents were too strong and they were unable to get to her then and she was gone when they returned. The storms? The shifting tides?

Also, during the trial, Dr. Ralph Cheng, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Surveys, testified that, based on where Conner was found, he would’ve been put in the water at a specific location, which, when he calculated it, was almost exactly where the psychic had predicted. [For Laci, pp. 208-210]

The first of these facts is the point of interest for me. Dr. Cheng's estimation of where Laci's body was placed into the water is somewhat in line with the psychic's information. However, the side-scan sonar sighting of an object that some believed to be Laci's body occurred in a different part of the bay.

Click image to enlarge

Dr. Cheng's model indicated that Laci's body would have been placed in the water slightly west of a private mooring buoy (marked with a pushpin in the above satellite image) WNW of the northwestern tip of Cesar Chavez Park, which borders the Berkeley Marina to the north. Based on what Sharon read in the email from the psychic, Dr. Cheng's calculations coincide closely with the psychic's description of where Laci's body was disposed.

The psychic had written that if you stood at the tip [of the Albany Bulb] and looked out, Laci was put into the water in the direction of 11 o’clock. [For Laci, p.209]

Sharon admits that she is usually skeptical about such things but cannot deny that she believes this psychic was onto something. I'm a skeptic too, but I'd sooner scoff at the psychic than at mother's intuition. Sharon felt Laci's presence there. I don't doubt it.

The sonar sighting that Sharon refers to occurred just days before her trip to the bay. Gene Ralston of Idaho, working in coordination with the Modesto police, located an object that appeared to be a human body "wrapped like a package" in the entrance channel that runs between Point Richmond and Brooks Island. As you can see from the above satellite image, that channel is a few miles north of the area indicated by Dr. Cheng and the psychic, and the two locations are separated by Brooks Island.

Among those who closely followed the case, controversy remains about who was correct in determining the original placement of Laci's body. Did Scott leave Laci and Conner in the shallow waters south of Brooks Island on the afternoon of December 24th, as presented by the prosecution team at trial? Or did he make an earlier trip in the dark of night to launch his boat near Richmond and anchor her body in the 40 ft depths of the Richmond channel? That's a question for another entry.

Regardless of the answer, Sharon left the San Francisco Bay that day knowing in her heart that Laci and Conner were there and that it was only a matter of time before they came home to her. And that they did.


Anonymous said...

Can you refresh my memory about the stuff found on the computer. I forget if certain areas of the bay were researched by Scott or just the whole bay in general.

Monday, January 30, 2006 8:20:51 PM

Average Jane said...

On December 8th, he checked the currents in the Central Bay. This CHART was found on his computer. He also ZOOMED in on a portion of the chart that included the deep water channel where Ralston made the sonar sighting. It also included an area slightly south of Brooks Island but not the area that Cheng estimated to be the target area.

Monday, January 30, 2006 9:38:26 PM