updated 8/11/2004 9:42:07 AM ET 2004-08-11T13:42:07

Guest: Patricia Cornwell, Werner Spitz, Edna Buchanan


DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  The other woman breaks her silence.  She was Scott Peterson‘s mistress.


AMBER FREY, SCOTT PETERSON‘S FORMER LOVER:  We did have a romantic relationship.


NORVILLE:  And, prosecutors say, the motive behind the murders of Laci Peterson and her unborn child.  Now jurors finally get to hear Amber Frey‘s side of the story.  But will Amber‘s testimony make or break the case against Scott Peterson?


GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:  The prosecution believes that it‘s important and relevant, and that‘s why she‘s here.


NORVILLE:  Plus: anatomy of a murder.  Mark Hacking, charged with the murder of his pregnant wife, Lori.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He shot her in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.


NORVILLE:  How did police link the clues that led to his arrest, from this telltale video to the forensic evidence to the alleged confession.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We believe that at the time that he made the statements, according to both the brothers, Scott and Lance, that he was not sedated.


NORVILLE:  Tonight: When truth is stranger than fiction.  Best-selling crime writers Edna Buchanan and Patricia Cornwell on the murders of Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cowardly, despicable, monstrous.


ANNOUNCER:  From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

NORVILLE:  And good evening, everybody.  We begin tonight, Amber Frey, finally on the witness stand in the Scott Peterson murder trial.  Amber Frey held a black purse in front of her face as she arrived at court this morning for what could be a week on the witness stand.  On the stand today, she was questioned about her relationship with Scott Peterson.  Frey‘s attorney, Gloria Allred, talked about that testimony outside the courtroom today.


GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:  Scott Peterson acted as though he was thoughtful and caring, according to the testimony provided by Amber Frey.  This morning, I think what‘s most important are Scott Peterson‘s lies and the double life that he was leading.


NORVILLE:  And joining me outside the courthouse today in Redwood City, California, is Dan Abrams, NBC News chief legal correspondent, the host of “THE ABRAMS REPORT” here on MSNBC.

Dan, what was the bombshell, if any, that you heard today in court?

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, “THE ABRAMS REPORT”:  No bombshells.  Pretty much as expected, in terms of what she said.  She said that Scott Peterson told her he had lost his wife.  She said that he said that he‘d be able to spend more time with her after he came back from a long trip away.  They played tapes that we were expecting.

But I think what was a little bit unexpected was how good Amber Frey was as a witness, at least so far.  She was measured in her answers.  She seemed thoughtful.  She seemed to listen very carefully to the questions, stop herself if she was giving an answer that seemed off point.  Although a couple of times, she seemed to lose her train of thought and she just stopped and she said, You know what?  Can you repeat the question?


ABRAMS:  So I think she was a very good witness.

NORVILLE:  What is it that the prosecution needs her to say in court that‘s going to nail this case for them?

ABRAMS:  You know, I think that—I don‘t think there‘s anything that she‘s going to say that‘s going to nail the case for them.  I think the tapes are what is going to be the most powerful evidence that Amber Frey can present.  And that is her voice with Scott Peterson‘s.  I mean, they played one today.  It‘s December 31.  It‘s six days after Laci‘s been reported missing.  He is still pretending—at this point, he is pretending he is in Paris on New Year‘s.  He‘s not there.  He‘s talking about how they‘re playing American pop music at the Eiffel Tower and it‘s all sort of cool and the crowd is huge.  And remember, this is when he‘s supposedly searching for his wife.

NORVILLE:  And what was his demeanor...

ABRAMS:  So I think that that sort of stuff will be problematic.

NORVILLE:  What was Scott Peterson‘s demeanor?  As this tape is playing, and it‘s obviously a lie that he‘s spinning for this girl on the other end of the phone, is he sitting there smirking?  Is he absolutely motionless, poker-faced?  How was his reaction as this stuff was played in court?

ABRAMS:  Well, you know, at times, he was talking to his lawyers, conferring with them, whispering.  At times, he was taking a lot of notes.  There was one time during Amber‘s testimony where he seemed somewhat seemed amused at something that she had said.  But most of the time, he was sitting, looking, listening and writing.

NORVILLE:  And did the two of them look at each other?  Did Amber Frey make eye contact with Scott Peterson?

ABRAMS:  Well, at one point, she had to.  The DA asked her, Can you identify the defendant in court?  She looks over at Scott and she says, sort of pointing with a kind of, you know, casual, yet disdainful gesture, and says, The one in the striped tie and the gray suit.  And then she just looked away.

But you know, for Laci‘s family—they‘re sitting there yards away from Scott Peterson, listening to him talk about the intimate details of the extramarital affair he‘s having, while their daughter and sister and loved one was sitting at home, seven-and-a-half-months pregnant, waiting for Scott to return.

NORVILLE:  Yes.  I want to get into some of those specifics.  And we‘re going to hear one exchange that‘s a little raunchy, if you ask me, so maybe the kids want to leave the room, or maybe they‘ll be calling each other saying, Come and listen because it‘s going to get juicy.

Let‘s get the timeline.  They met—they were introduced at a party around November 20.  They had their first date, she testified, December 2, moved into December 3.  And then she talked about—am I wrong there, Dan?  I see you shaking your head.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well, yea.  I mean, it was—November 20 was the first date.


ABRAMS:  They had actually—yes, they‘d actually—they‘d actually talked on the phone before that.  They then meet on November the 20, have their first date.  They have their next date on December the 2nd, overnight to the 3rd.

NORVILLE:  And then—you‘re going to talk about an exchange that happened less than a week after that, where Scott Peterson makes no bones about the fact that there‘s no wife in the picture at the present time.

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s right.  And the reason he‘s doing this is because her friend has found out or heard that Scott Peterson‘s married.  And he says, Oh, you know, I lost my wife, blah, blah, blah.  And so she says, You better tell Amber, or I‘m going to tell her.  Or actually, she says, I‘m going to tell Amber, and Scott says, Please let me tell her.  So this is the way Amber describes him coming to her.


ABRAMS:  Amber Frey says, “he had said he‘d lied to me about ever being married”—because he‘d said he‘d never been married—“and he stated that something for himself, when people would ask if it was easier to say he was not or never had been married, and sometimes he would correct them that he was.”

Harris, the DA: “Did he tell you why he‘d lied?”  Frey says, “He said that it was painful for him.”  Harris: “Well, what did the defendant tell you?”  Frey: “That he‘d lost his wife.  Harris: “Did he use those words?” 

Frey: “Yes.”  Harris: “Explain any more to you?”  Frey: “Yes.”  Harris:

“What?”  “He said, obviously, without saying much, that she was not with him and that it was just entirely painful for him to talk about it.”  “What did he say?”  “Well, I‘d asked him as far as timeframe, had it been long, basically.  And he stated this was the first holidays he would be spending without her.”

So you know, this is not helpful to the defense case.

NORVILLE:  Did the exchange go on?  Did Amber say, How did your wife die?  How long ago did she die?  You know, any of those what to me would be kind of—Oh, it must have been awful.  How did she die?  That‘s a natural follow-up.

ABRAMS:  She said that she did follow up with some questions, and he seemed very uncomfortable talking about it, so she dropped the subject, effectively, and started asking him questions about whether—about how that would affect their relationship.  She asked him questions like, Do you feel comfortable having a relationship with me?  His answer, Absolutely.

NORVILLE:  Yes.  And then you fast-forward just a few more days from that to December 14.  They went to a Christmas party together.  Laci is on her own, going to another party by herself.  And on the way, Amber Frey testified today that she said, Would it be OK if I introduce you as my boyfriend?  And he said, Yes.  And then she talked about some of the things that went on with a flower that night.

ABRAMS:  I mean, you know, this guy pulls every move right out of the TV show, “The Bachelor,” in his effort to...

NORVILLE:  He‘s so skeezy (ph)!  I‘m sorry!  This is just like...

ABRAMS:  I mean—I mean...

NORVILLE:  ... the loser date of all time.

ABRAMS:  I mean, it‘s—I got to tell you, you know, champagne and strawberries and picnics and surprises.  He surprises her with a little candied apple.  And—you know, and this is—this is probably the most egregious of his—of the various examples effort to romance.  He brings her three dozen pink roses.

And then the DA, Harris, says, “The defendant still have one rose left?”  Amber Frey says, “Yes.”  He says, “What then?”  “He had laid a single rose on the table, and I asked him what the rose was for.  He said he was glad I asked.  He said he had a story to tell me.”  “He start to tell you a story about the rose?  Does he start to do something with the rose?”  “Yes.”  “What?”  “He asked me if I had a candle and some scissors.  He cut the stem off the rose.  At that point, the lights were out.  There was a candle, and he had me—at some point, I was against the wall.  He was rubbing the rose on my face and said he didn‘t know what a rose was like being rubbed on himself but felt he was rubbing the rose on me, kissing me softly, mowing down my—moving down my chest area.  I proceeded to raise my arms to touch him.  He continued kissing me”...

You know, these details, while they sound...

NORVILLE:  Thank you for stopping.

ABRAMS:  ... like they‘re gratuitous—yes.  They sound like they‘re gratuitous and out of a romance novel.  It‘s important because the key for the prosecution here is to establish that this was not just a sexual fling, but this was a guy who wanted a relationship and was doing everything he could, both doing this kind of stuff and with her little daughter, who was just about 2 years old at the time, buying her a present, taking her to go buy a Christmas tree.


ABRAMS:  It was definitely a good day for the prosecution.

NORVILLE:  So in just the couple seconds left, the reason this is important?  Because you want to get rid of the wife who‘s pregnant at home, so you can be with the hot babe that you‘re rubbing flowers on?

ABRAMS:  And also with regard to premeditation...

NORVILLE:  All right...

ABRAMS:  ... that it sets the timeline for when the premeditation starts.

NORVILLE:  Dan Abrams, thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  All right, Deborah.

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up: Best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell on the Peterson case.  Could Amber Frey‘s testimony help convict Scott Peterson of murder?


ALLRED:  In the prosecution‘s opinion, the relationship with Mr.

Peterson supports a motive for murder.




NORVILLE:  What kind of impact can Amber Frey‘s testimony have in the Scott Peterson murder trial?  Well, there are some issues with hard evidence in the case, and the story of Amber Frey goes also to motive.  Did Scott Peterson kill his pregnant wife so he could be with his new lover?

Joining me now to talk about the case is best-selling crime author Patricia Cornwell.  She is also a forensic consultant who specializes in evidence and is, as well, a former crime reporter.  Ms. Cornwell, thank you so much for being with us.  I know you‘re not a lawyer, but professionally, you deal with evidence day in and day out.  And from where you sit, what is the evidence against Scott Peterson in this case?

PATRICIA CORNWELL, CRIME AUTHOR, FORENSIC CONSULTANT:  Well, so far, as best I‘ve seen, there is very little evidence against Scott Peterson.  This is very distressing.  It seems that everyone has been determined to prove what an awful human being he is, that he‘s an unfaithful, dishonest man, and as despicable as that might be, that really is not what this is about.  It seems that evidence either has not been found or it has not been treated and handled properly.  And I find that very, very distressing and disappointing.

NORVILLE:  Which do you think is the bigger problem, that the evidence hasn‘t been found—it‘s real difficult when you throw a body into the water, a lot of that circumstance—that trace evidence washes away.  Is it that or is it the fact that what has been found, in your opinion, hasn‘t been handled well?

CORNWELL:  Well, it‘s both.  And you‘re absolutely right.  When you have disposed of a body, what you‘ve done is destroyed the most important crime scene because the body ultimately is the crime scene that we should have the most interest in.  So you have a terrible disadvantage when there is no body, or in the case of Laci Peterson, when the body is in such terrible condition by the time it is found.

However, there are other disturbing signs here.  For example, this business about the tarp and the duct tape.  You know, why wasn‘t this properly examined a long time ago?  This could, in fact, hold the most interesting evidence in this case, and it should have been—that should have been looked at very carefully very early on.  And then we have the business about this camouflage coat that was found in the boathouse...

NORVILLE:  Well, hold on a second...

CORNWELL:  ... and then mysteriously...

NORVILLE:  Let me get to the camouflage coat in a moment.


NORVILLE:  Let‘s go back to the plastic tarp because that‘s what they stopped court for last Thursday...


NORVILLE:  ... so they could go and do more extensive testing on this. 

But this wasn‘t a new piece of evidence.  It‘s been there all along.

CORNWELL:  Yes.  As far as I understand, though, it was not thoroughly processed.  Now, that‘s based on what I have read.  And the question one should ask is, What could a tarp and duct tape reveal, assuming that you don‘t, quote, “make assumptions”?  And I think assumptions were made very early on that it would be expensive to process this piece of alleged evidence that was found out on the shore, that also, since duct tape on it might look perhaps different than duct tape found on the maternity pants of Laci Peterson‘s body—there‘s a lot of things that—there should have been no assumptions made.  You could look for DNA.  You can look for fingerprints, trace evidence, all kinds of things on a tarp and duct tape.

NORVILLE:  And the reason that tarp‘s important is because one of the cops at the scene said it smelled bad.  It smelled as though a body could have been in that piece of plastic.

CORNWELL:  Even if it hadn‘t smelled bad, if you found something like that on the shore—I mean, why would a tarp that‘s used to cover cement have duct tape on it, to begin with?  I mean, you want to look at something like that and say, Hey, it doesn‘t hurt to examine this and see what this is doing here  and if it might be related to these remains that have been found.  But you see, the thing about tape on a surface like plastic—that is going to preserve and seal that evidence from the water and from the elements.  And there could still be something there that‘s under it.  And trace evidence is oftentimes the one thing...


CORNWELL:  ... that a very careful killer does not think about when he‘s committing his crime.

NORVILLE:  But if it was preserved at the time of the murder, presumably, it‘s still preserved, although they‘re going back belatedly and doing more testing on it.  So the evidence may still be there.

CORNWELL:  Well, we would hope so, but you know, the longer you wait, the more it raises questions.  And it is possible for things to be dislodged and lost.  It is possible for mistakes and confusion.  I would think that the defense is going to have a good time with that, if they find something, and perhaps try to cast some doubt in the minds of jurors, in terms of the integrity of that evidence.

NORVILLE:  OK, what about the camouflage jacket that was found along with the boat?

CORNWELL:  Oh, that‘s a bad situation because when you now have is a contaminated scene.  If we assume that that boat might be the scene that her body was in at some point, for transporting it or whatever, we‘re interested in any evidence that might be found in that boat, anything that could place her in that boat or place some sort of activity in that boat that would point the finger at violence in her case.

So if you take a coat that belonged to Scott Peterson, let‘s say, and you put it in that coat (SIC), well, then all bets are off if you find her hair or biological evidence or fibers or anything, because since those two people lived together, it naturally would not be unusual to find that evidence has been transferred from her to his clothing and then into some other area.  So to have put a coat in that crime scene was a very, very bad move, and it opens up this case to all kinds of very unfortunate questions.

NORVILLE:  I want to get to the Amber Frey thing in just a second, but the whole notion that the police might not have handled this case well, either—I mean, it seems like so often, the cases we talk about here on television, usually get to a point where you‘re pointing at the cops, you‘re pointing at the investigators and going, Geez, these are the Keystone Kops doing this stuff.

CORNWELL:  Well, I don‘t know that I‘d use the term the Keystone Kops.  You know, forensic evidence is very difficult, and it changes by leaps and bounds and it‘s a lot for the police to remember.  And it doesn‘t take but a very small mistake to create a very big problem.  And you have very sharp defense attorneys, and they‘re going to do everything they can to introduce doubt into the minds of the jurors.


CORNWELL:  But I have to say, when you‘re talking again about a coat that could have perhaps transferred a hair or hairs of Laci Peterson‘s into a boat and perhaps to a pair of pliers, that is important because you don‘t want to accuse somebody falsely, no matter how much you dislike the person.

NORVILLE:  And certainly, Scott Peterson is being portrayed as a very dislikable man.  But the young woman who‘s testifying right now, Amber Frey, is also testifying about a guy who was awfully cool, calm and collected at a time when his wife had gone missing.

CORNWELL:  Well, that‘s right, and that‘s very disturbing.  And I think we all would agree that he‘s guilty of being a pretty rotten person, but that still does not make him a killer.  The evidence is what we need to lead us in that direction.  And I have to say that without that evidence, I think this jury‘s got a big problem on its hands.  You just can‘t go convicting somebody of homicide just because he is, you know, cool and seems to be actually, you know, very unfeeling, is unfaithful to his wife.  Does that legally make him a murderer?  Does that, in a criminalistic way, make him a murderer?  And the answer is no.

So without the evidence, all you have is a person who, in a circumstantial way, fits the bill as having done this, but you really need more than that for a conviction, in my opinion.

NORVILLE:  So if you were sitting if a jury box right now and you had to return a verdict today on Scott Peterson, your verdict would be not guilty?

CORNWELL:  If I didn‘t have more evidence than I‘ve seen so far, I would have to do that out of a clear conscience.  It wouldn‘t be—I would have to.  Without the evidence, I could not convict somebody of any crime.


CORNWELL:  It doesn‘t matter whether I like the person or not.

NORVILLE:  Scott Peterson is not the only one whose legal troubles are

making headlines.  Patricia Cornwell‘s going to stay with us.  When we come

back, we‘ll take a look a the murder of Lori Hacking.  Police have put

together a chilling timeline outlining her last hours and her husband‘s

behavior.  We‘ll discuss that with our guests right after this

ANNOUNCER:  Up next: anatomy of a murder.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He used the knife, we believe, to cut around the pillow-like material in the mattress.


ANNOUNCER:  The clues that led prosecutors to Mark Hacking after his wife, Lori, disappeared when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.



NORVILLE:  Moving on now to the story of Mark and Lori Hacking.  He made his first court appearance in Salt Lake City today after confessing to his brothers that he killed his wife.  He appeared in court on a video feed from the county jail, where he he‘s being held on $1 million bail.  Mark Hacking has been charged with first-degree murder and with obstructing justice.  He faces life in prison, but not the death penalty because Lori Hacking‘s body has not been found and there‘s not enough evidence for a charge of aggravated murder.

In the last 24 hours, we have learned a great deal about what investigators believe happened, and so we put together a timeline of events that lead up to the murder of Lori Hacking.  On July 16, Lori was at work when she talked on the telephone with an employee of the University of North Carolina.  It was then that she found out that Mark had never applied to medical school at UNC.  Now, earlier Mark had told Lori that he‘d been accepted, and the couple was planning on moving there shortly.

Lori was then seen leaving her office in tears.  Two days later, on July 18, at 9:19 PM, these last images of Lori Hacking as she and Mark are seen on a convenience store surveillance camera buying some sodas.  The prosecutors office says that in his confession, Mark Hacking says that he and Lori arrived back home and then argued that night when he admitted that he had lied about medical school.

After she went to bed, Mark says he played Nintendo for about an hour.  Then came across his rifle, and he says he shot Lori in the head as she slept in bed.  At 1:18 AM that morning, Mark is seen back in the video at the convenience store, looking at his hands as he buys some cigarettes.  Now, it‘s not clear if this is before or after Lori Hacking was killed.

The DA‘s office says that Mark confessed to disposing of Lori‘s body, of a gun and the mattress all in different dumpsters at about 2:00 o‘clock in the morning and says that he used a knife to cut away the top part of the mattress.


DAVID YOCOM, SALT LAKE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  We think he rolled her in that, and then put all of that, including the bedding, pillows, anything containing blood, in garbage sacks around that, and that‘s what he deposited in a dumpster.


NORVILLE:  It was then several hours later, between 10:00 AM and 10:07 that Mark made calls to Lori‘s co-workers and to the police, saying that she hadn‘t returned from her morning run.  A credit card transaction shows, however, that at 10:23, Mark bought a new mattress at a furniture store.  At 10:30, he called Lori‘s mother to tell her that her daughter was missing.  And again, at 10:46, he called police once more to say he had found his wife‘s car.

Police say that when they looked the car over, they noticed that the seat and the mirrors were adjusted in such a way that someone of Lori‘s height could not have reached the steering wheel, the pedals or have seen out the mirrors.

Searchers continue to look through a huge landfill for Lori‘s body, but so far, they‘ve found nothing.

Back now with best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell for her insights on this case.  She‘s also a forensic consultant who specializes in evidence.  Ms.  Cornwell, in this case, we‘ve got a situation where there is a confession to the murder, there‘s certainly a lot of physical evidence, but there‘s not a body and not a murder weapon, if he really did shoot this woman as he says he has in his confession.  What do you make of all this?

CORNWELL:  Well, again, that causes a big problem when you have no body.  In this case, if you could find the body, then what you could very quickly ascertain is whether the injuries to that body are consistent with the husband‘s statement, with Hacking‘s statement that he shot her in the head with a .22 rifle.  If she has that sort of injury, then that corroborates what he said.

If she died from some other cause, then you have a discrepancy.  And since there seems to be a psychiatric element here, that‘s really important because you wonder what is this person‘s mental state.  Is he reliable?  Is he falsely confessing, or did he do it?  Also—but you do have other evidence here.  Even though the body hasn‘t been found...


CORNWELL:  ... the body has spoken.  The body has spoken because you have found blood and you have found evidence perhaps of violence in that bedroom.  That, to me, is very strong and very incriminating, blood in the bed, and of course, the mattress being disposed of, a bloody knife—I‘d love to know what the forensic examination of that revealed.  Did they find fibers on the blade that might indicate that it had been used for cutting a fabric?  I believe it has been verified that it‘s her blood...


CORNWELL:  ... on that knife. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

CORNWELL:  That, of course, is important also. 


CORNWELL:  This is a much more incriminating case. 

NORVILLE:  He says that he shot her, but we know this guy is a liar and really good at it, because he‘s lied about just about everything else he told his family members.  So maybe he didn‘t kill her.  Maybe he did stab her, and the human blood that‘s been found on that knife is blood that came at the time of the murder, not when the mattress was being cut apart. 

CORNWELL:  Well, you do have a problem with his credibility, to say the least.  And, again, you don‘t want to convict somebody of a crime if they‘ve—if they‘re mentally ill and have made a false confession.

But I will say, there is a lot of evidence in this case that certainly leads to foul play being involved where his wife is concerned.  But, yes, if you could find the body, you also could verify that she was pregnant, which changes the legal status of the case, the aggravated assault part of it. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

CORNWELL:  All of that is very, very important.  But it‘s not looking very hopeful, is it, after about three weeks. 

NORVILLE:  Well, you‘ve worked on these cases before and you know what the police go through to try to find that body.  Is it possible that in two acres of land in something like 3,000 tons of garbage that they could still find her body, could still find the gun, if indeed there is one? 

CORNWELL:  Oh, it‘s always possible.  At this time of year, you‘re going to have a fair amount of decomposition, particularly in an environment like a landfill, but the skeletal remains will survive for quite some time.  So it‘s very possible that those remains will turn up at some point.

And I guess, again, is it true that that is really where he disposed of them?  Are they really in that landfill or are they someplace else?  So one could hope that these remains will still be found and may have something to tell us that helps us with the answer to this. 

NORVILLE:  In your books, you often say in one way or another that every criminal makes a mistake in the course of their crime or the covering up of it.  What do you believe the mistake might be in the Lori Hacking murder? 

CORNWELL:  Well, one big mistake is he never should have said anything about it, obviously.  If he really did kill her, that‘s pretty stupid to go around admitting to it, because now you‘ve really drawn attention.

And then when you make a very big effort to cover up what you‘ve done, such as running out and buying a brand new mattress, you‘re really raising a lot of suspicions.  So—and what that would make me think—and this is an interesting point—that suggests perhaps some impulse, as opposed to premeditation.  It doesn‘t seem like somebody thought in advance very carefully about this.  It makes you wonder if this was a crime that occurred because he was angry, as opposed to having plotted it out and thought about it a long time in advance. 

It‘s always important to try to read the emotions of a crime scene.  And that helps perhaps figure out why this happened and what exactly happened. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, but there‘s also the flip side of that, which is, if you realize now that your wife has found the truth about there‘s no medical school, there‘s no college degree, there‘s no a lot of this other stuff you‘ve been claiming over the years and you don‘t want to have to deal with all of that, you get rid of the wife and suddenly a lot of your problems appear to be solved. 

CORNWELL:  Again, though, that seems a little bit more impulsive to me. 

The wife finds out.  You have a fight.  The next thing you know, she‘s dead.  That is not—as opposed to the Scott Peterson allegations, where you have somebody who may have meticulously planned this for days or even weeks.  It seems like a very different feeling involved in these two cases. 

NORVILLE:  All right.  We‘re going to take a short break. 

Patricia Cornwell, thank you so much.  By the way, we should note that your latest novel will be hitting bookstores next month.  It‘s called “Trace.”  And, Patricia, I hope you will come back and talk with us again sometime very soon. 

CORNWELL:  I‘d like to.  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  All right. 

When we come back, no body, no murder weapon.  Is it possible that police can develop a case against Mark Hacking for his wife‘s murder?  We‘ll find out from forensic experts Dr. Werner Spitz, and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. 

That‘s coming up next.


NORVILLE:  Two husbands accused of killing their wives, both of them have dark secrets.  How strong is the evidence against Scott Peterson and Mark Hacking?

More perspective coming up.


NORVILLE:  We‘re continuing our look at the murder of Lori Hacking and today‘s first court appearance of her husband, Mark, who has been charged with her murder. 

Joining me now is former MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.  Also with us tonight, forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz. 

Gentlemen, thanks, both of you, for being with us tonight.

Dr. Spitz, I want to start with you first and talk about the evidence or lack of evidence.  We don‘t have the body of this poor woman.  There is not the murder weapon, if it was indeed a rifle, as her husband has claimed in this confession, and the mattress hasn‘t been accounted for.  Can they still make a murder case to stick against this man? 

DR. WERNER SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST:  And, furthermore, you have a person who is unreliable as far as confession is concerned, because you don‘t know whether he tells you the truth or he doesn‘t. 

And he has used the medical school to—the idea of going to medical school with his family for a long time.  And he obviously never went.  For me, as far as I‘m concerned, but I rationalize like a rational person, so what if he didn‘t go to medical school?  So what if he wasn‘t accepted?  So what if he misled them about that?  Is that a reason for murder? 

NORVILLE:  That seems to be the reason they‘re claiming, but can they make a case stick if they don‘t have the body, the weapon and presumably the place where the murder occurred? 

SPITZ:  Very good question.  I don‘t know that there is as much evidence as we like to believe.  As you say, there is no body.  There is no weapon.  There is a lot of confusing evidence.  Yes, there is blood.  But maybe there was a fight and maybe she‘ll come up one day.  Maybe one day she‘ll reappear. 

NORVILLE:  So it‘s possible that she‘s not even dead at all. 

Clint Van Zandt, do you think that‘s likely? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, I don‘t think that that‘s really likely in this case. 

When we talk about motive, not withstanding Cain and Abel and what caused them to go after each other, I had a case one time as an FBI agent where two brothers living together fought over the last piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

NORVILLE:  Get out.

VAN ZANDT:  And one stabbed the other to death over a piece of chicken.  Now, if you can die over a piece of chicken, I think you can die over an emotional argument, a fight, with your spouse. 

NORVILLE:  Well, how about the groundwork that‘s been laid?  I mean, he‘s been working in a psychiatric institute. 

VAN ZANDT:  Oh, sure.

NORVILLE:  If anybody knows how to do the psychiatric act, it‘s got to be Mark Hacking.  He‘s been working with these guys eight hours a day for a couple of years. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, it‘s like he‘s been going to school to learn how to act like a paranoid schizophrenic. 

All of a sudden, the keeper has become a keepee.  And he understands.  He knows how to walk the walk and talk the talk.  And when you‘re around these guys day after day, you understand who they are, what they say, how they do it.  And I‘m sure, in his case, if he chose to do that, he could act like someone with a discernible mental disorder, whether he really has it or not.

You and I would say, well, wait, you have got to be a little nuts to put a .22 rifle to your wife‘s head and shoot her.  But a rifle is more consistent to me.  I don‘t see this guy being the up close and personal, take the knife and plunge it into her.  That bothered me about this case.  When I heard the .22, I thought, OK, that‘s more likely the weapon I would see this type of guy using.

But as the doctor is suggesting, what if it turns out we find the body and she has been strangled?  There goes the knife perhaps.  There goes the .22.  And now we start to scratch our head and say, well, if it wasn‘t a knife, and he said it was a .22 and wasn‘t, could it have been somebody else?  Is this guy smart enough to do that to us?

NORVILLE:  But that‘s all hypothetical stuff.  We don‘t know that that‘s going to happen.  And it may very well may not.

Dr. Spitz, what about that videotape that we saw where, presumably, after this woman has been killed, at least according to his statement, he‘s back at the convenience store buying some cigarettes, looking at his fingers, kind of checking out his cuticles?  What do you make of that? 

SPITZ:  Very strange.

But the strangest thing in this case is, you have a confession of a bullet in the—being shot and then a knife with blood on it.  And the knife with blood on it apparently seems to be a fact, whereas the shooting is absolutely not confirmed. 

NORVILLE:  Absolutely.  But, you know, there are a couple of explanations for the knife.  One is, yes, he used the knife to cut the mattress top off and rolled her up in it, as has been presumably claimed in the confession or he killed her with the knife, but we just don‘t know, because, as we know, there‘s no body. 

Clint Van Zandt, you‘ve got some information in some of the presentations that you make about the warning signs, things you should look for, because I know a lot of women are looking at this guy going, gee, I thought I was married to Mr. Perfect.  Do I need to worry that I‘m a future Lori Hacking?  And one of things you talk about is, the person shows a certain insensitivity. 

Everything we have heard about Mark Hacking is, this was the classic nice guy.  If you needed help hanging a picture, he came over with the toolbox and put the pictures up and rearranged your furniture for you.  It doesn‘t fit the pattern. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, there‘s a number of different indicators that you and I and everybody has to look at to say, is this guy real or is he Memorex?  Do we finally see the Mark Hacking who reaches up and tears the mask off his face and all of a sudden now we have the real Mark Hacking; everything else before was a facade?

Again, Deborah, this is a guy who built this house of cards that was lie upon lie upon lie upon lie.  And then all of a sudden, Humpty Dumpty came crashing down.  His wife had him.  He couldn‘t tap dance around the lies.  And then he has to find out, what is he going to do?  How does he continue with his life?  How does he not become he embarrassed to his family, to his community?

NORVILLE:  Right. 

VAN ZANDT:  How does he not go to medical school?  You know, could that be a motive?  Of course it could.  Do we know it is?  No.  But that‘s what investigators have to do.  You have to think of a motive and then see if the facts, see if the forensic evidence support the motive. 

NORVILLE:  Let me ask you both what you think needs to be presented in court in this case in order to secure a conviction for the murder of Lori Hacking. 

Dr. Spitz, let me start with you first. 

SPITZ:  I think I‘d wait.  I think I‘d wait.  I know that they‘re looking for the body in the landfill.  I don‘t know if she‘s there or not.  The minute they find her, they know a lot more information.  They have a lot more information. 

I‘m not so sure that they will be able to determine at this point whether she in fact was pregnant because of the decomposition that goes on. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

SPITZ:  And once that is all available, then we—I think we should sit back depend and put together the pieces.  Right now, I think it‘s a little early. 

NORVILLE:  All right.  Yes.  And all those facts could determine whether it turns into a death penalty case. 

SPITZ:  Sure.

NORVILLE:  Clint Van Zandt, what do you want to see? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, juries—it‘s a terrible thing.  But juries like to see a body and they like to see cause of death.  They want to make sure this woman didn‘t find out that not only is he a liar and everything else we might want to call this guy, but could she at the last moment have said, I‘m out of here and be on a beach in the Bahamas someplace watching this on television? 

The jury wants to know that there was a woman, that she was murdered, this was the cause of death, and they want to see the linking physical evidence that comes back to Mark Hacking.  Otherwise, we‘ve got Scott Peterson.  We‘ve got O.J. Simpson.  We‘ve got a number of other cases that your heart may say he‘s guilty, but a jury has got to think with their head. 

NORVILLE:  As they said, if it doesn‘t fit, you must acquit. 

Dr. Werner Spitz, Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot for being with us. 

SPITZ:  Thank you.  OK.

NORVILLE:  When we come back, Pulitzer Prize-winning crime reporter and novelist Edna Buchanan with her take on the Peterson and Hacking cases. 

Stay tuned. 


NORVILLE:  So you want to sit down and write a fictional account about two men accused of killing their wives, men who lived a double life, with a lot of elaborate detail, crime scenes, evidence, forensics, only to find you have just written the stories of Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking.  Their murders are all too real.  You just can‘t make this stuff up. 

And joining me now to look at today‘s events is Pulitzer Prize-winning crime reporter and novelist Edna Buchanan.  Her latest novel is called “Cold Case Squad.”  Also on the book sales is the rerelease of “The Corpse Had a Familiar Face,” which is her collection of her years on the crime beat as a reporter for “The Miami Herald.” 

Edna Buchanan, it‘s nice to see you.  Thanks for being with us. 

EDNA BUCHANAN, CRIME REPORTER:  Oh, you‘re welcome.  It‘s my pleasure.

NORVILLE:  You kind of have the advantage of being both a crime reporter, having covered cases very similar to kinds that are making news today, and the novelist who tries to put the spin on, make them believable, but so zazzy that people don‘t want to put the book down until they finish reading.

How close are these cases to being so out of the realm of reality that they seem like fictionalized accounts? 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, it‘s really tough anymore to write fiction in a world where it‘s increasingly stranger.  It really is, because both of these woman were beautiful, intelligent.  And they married these men—I could see Scott is a pretty face and Mark was Mr. Lovable who could spin a good tale.

But each of these women lived with these men long enough to realize there was something missing there, to say the least, like conscience and character and commitment.  And that these women chose to then begin families with these men is astonishing.  Lori Hacking may not have realized how big his lies could be.  But she had to know he was living with a liar.  He smoked and drank behind her back. 

A wife knows.  She can smell alcohol or cigarettes on someone‘s breath or on their clothes.  She knew.  And yet it‘s so sad that they didn‘t focus sooner, make their getaways, or become more suspicious. 

NORVILLE:  So let‘s keep this in the novelist realm.  If you are writing the story and you have got these two woman who know in their heart of hearts that Mr. Wonderful has a few frayed spots on the edges, what is she thinking?  What is your fictional Lori, what is your fictional Laci thinking about the man they‘ve married, the man they‘re about to become a parent with? 

BUCHANAN:  I guess they think they can fix him.  And some people are just broken and they can‘t be fixed. 

And then, of course, we have the other woman, Amber Frey.  And, of course, no matter how much Gloria Allred dresses her up nicely and has her wear hairdos that make her look like a choir girl, she is still the massage therapist with a history of dating husbands of pregnant wives.  And she probably won‘t be a very credible witness.  But what I‘m hoping is that the evidence is there, that Scott‘s own words will convict him, that in those taped conversations, there will be enough to hang him. 

And, of course, Amber was nice enough to come forward and cooperate with the police.  But she had to know that this mess was going to wind up on her doorstep once she heard about it.  And I think her theory was to throw Scott under the bus and come forward before the bus pulled into her driveway. 

NORVILLE:  As you know, the tapes have not yet been played, but in court her testimony has been to the effect of how they met.  They ended up at—you know, in someone‘s bed after the first date, basically.  And very, very soon, he was involved with her family, going shopping for Christmas trees.

And within a couple of weeks of them meeting, they were at a Christmas party, December 14.  And on the way, she said, can I introduce you as my boyfriend to the people at the party that you don‘t know?  And he said yes. 

What does that tell you, other than the guy is living a double life? 

Does that tell you anything about ability to commit murder? 

BUCHANAN:  I think it was his fantasy life.  And I think he wanted to prolong it.  He wanted to keep it from becoming exposed and losing this woman that he had all sorts of fantasies about.

And, of course, Amber was smitten as well, although after he broke her heart, supposedly, as she has said, within a few short months, she was pregnant again with someone else‘s child.  So both of these people were evidently living in fantasy worlds.  But I think he might have become aware that she was checking up on him and he knew things were about to come home to roost.

And he had to make some move that would allow him to spend more time and money on her. 

NORVILLE:  In which case, how important are the comments that Scott Peterson makes in those telephone calls going to be if he thought that Amber might have been wise to him? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, you have to remember, he is a manure salesman and he‘s obviously a good talker. 


BUCHANAN:  So I‘m just hoping there is enough in those 300 conversations.  And it just shows his obsession, that here, he is supposedly the grieving husband looking for his missing wife, his missing pregnant wife, and he‘s making 300 phone calls to the massage therapist. 

NORVILLE:  And let‘s flip over to the Hacking case in just the few seconds that we‘ve got left.  There isn‘t a body yet.  They don‘t have the presumed murder weapon.  Do you think that they will make a case on this guy?  What do you want to see?

BUCHANAN:  I pray that they cannot only make the case, but elevate it to a death penalty case, if they can prove the aggravated circumstance that she was pregnant, because if there was ever a poster boy for capital punishment, it‘s him.  To shoot your pregnant wife while she‘s sleeping and then throw her in the trash? 

So I‘m hoping they do recover her body in good enough shape so forensics can give us that information.  And you said before how everyone loved him.  He would brings his tools and hang your pictures, move your furniture.


BUCHANAN:  Well, that‘s the pathology of that sort of personality.  He wanted to be looked up to, to be revered, to be loved and admired . And that‘s why he told all these lies. 

And then I guess he figured, when it was all falling in around him, that he would be looked up and to revered and sympathized with if he had this missing wife. 


BUCHANAN:  The one question I haven‘t heard answered is, how far is the park where she supposedly went jogging, where they found her car, from the house?  Because if it‘s too far for him to have walked back after he left the car there, then that means that someone was helping him, that there was an accomplice involved. 

NORVILLE:  Edna Buchanan, you are as sharp as a tack, because that is a question I haven‘t heard anybody ask. 

Thank you so much for being with us.  We appreciate your insights.

BUCHANAN:  You‘re welcome. 

NORVILLE:  When we come back, a legend of screen and stage about to make a special appearance right here.  We‘ll explain in a moment.


NORVILLE:  That‘s our program tonight. 

Coming up tomorrow night, an evening with Julie Andrews.  From “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music,” to “S.O.B.” And “Victor/Victoria,” Julie Andrews has wowed film and theater audiences, especially children, for years.  But these days, young people are perhaps more likely to know her from the hit “Princess Diaries” series and even from “Shrek.”  Julie Andrews on her career, her charity work and the surgery that nearly stole her voice, that‘s tomorrow.

Coming up next, Pat Buchanan in for Joe Scarborough.

See you tomorrow night.


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