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Dateline NBC
updated 1/4/2005 5:52:26 PM ET 2005-01-04T22:52:26

On January 15, 2003, Modesto police had a private meeting with Laci Peterson's parents. They revealed that Scott Peterson had been having an affair. Suddenly the parents, who had so far supported Scott, had reason to suspect him. And some members of Laci's family said so publicly. The news that Scott Peterson had a girlfriend set the media buzzing. Reporters combed central California, searching for the mystery woman. On January 24, they found Amber Frey.

Lauer: "That's the day that the news of your affair with Scott Peterson broke. Where were you when that happened?"

Frey: "Well, I first have to correct you, Matt. I didn't have an affair with him."

Lauer: "He had an affair I guess, is the correct way to put it. You had a relationship."

Frey: "Correct."

Lauer: "Where were you when you heard that your name had been leaked?"

Frey: "I was in my office actually. And they were outside the office."

Lauer: "Any idea at that moment, Amber, how your life was about to change?"

Frey: "Not really, no."

Reporters laid siege to her office. Amber hid inside until the police arrived and whisked her to Modesto.

Lauer: "They had said, we're going to break the story whether you help us or not. And that frightened me. I thought, if it's going to be broke, it's going to be from me."

She decided to make a brief statement, taking no questions. That evening Amber Frey faced a pack of reporters and, on cable TV, the whole country.

Frey: "On the way down the stairs, I couldn't catch my breath. I even asked for a bag to breathe into because I couldn't catch my breath. It was scary."

In her book, Amber reveals that after her press statement she got an unexpected phone call from Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother. The next day, Amber Frey, the other woman, met Laci's mom.

Frey: "And I felt by Sharon and her family, and Laci's friends a very welcoming sense. I mean, I know that sounds strange. But they were very thankful for what I was doing or what I had done or coming to the police department and cooperating with them."

Much more surprising, Amber continued to get calls from Scott.

Lauer: "Here you on national television in the Modesto Police Department. It doesn't take a genius to know that you're working with the police now."

Frey: "Right."

Lauer: "And he continues to call you. Were you surprised by that? He even commented on how you handled yourself in the press conference. What did that tell you?"

Frey: "That he's—"

Lauer: "Crazy."

Frey: "Pretty much."

Coming out had a price for Amber. She was angry when newspapers referred to her as Scott's "mistress," implying she'd known he was married. The tabloids laid bare her sometimes tumultuous love life. And they laid Amber bare, literally, when they published nude photos she'd posed for two years earlier.

Frey: "I was devastated that they were out there. It was very hurtful."

Lauer: "Did you want to explain to people why you took the photos? Do you think, uh-oh, I wonder if people are thinking the wrong thing about me now."

Frey: "No, more so why are people doing this to me when I'm here helping Laci and her family. I've done nothing wrong but have helped and cooperated."

Not only was Amber's private life now front page news, she also watched Scott give TV interviews in which he dismissed his relationship with Amber, and tearfully declared his love for Laci.

Lauer: "As you watched those interviews, what did you think?"

Frey: "That he was just a piece of work. You know, there isn't any truth that comes out of this man's mouth."

Lauer: "At one point he was asked in an interview about you. And he was asked if he loved you.  And he said no, ouch. Did it hurt to hear that? No?"

Frey: "No, not really, it kind of made me laugh a little bit just how quickly he answered no."

She laughed in part because she knew that Scott was still calling her and begging to meet:

Scott: I’m asking to see you.
Amber: I don't know how that would be possible without being spotted by somebody.
Scott: I could come to wherever you are tonight, to see you or talk to you.
Amber: I can't have you come to my house, Scott.
Scott: You know I’m not a monster, Amber.
Amber: I never said you were, Scott.

Amber refused to meet Scott. The police feared for her safety. But Amber took a big chance anyway. It was February 10, her birthday. And, coincidentally, Laci's due date, the day she should have been giving birth to a little boy she planned to name Conner. Scott called and directed Amber to a children's hospital where he said he'd hidden a present for her under a lamp post. Remarkably, Amber went.

Lauer: "There was no other reason to go get that gift than there were a lot of emotions at play. It was your birthday and I guess curiosity?"

Frey: "Curiosity, I would say would be fair to say, yeah. I was curious."

Scott had left a paper bag with several small gifts inside. One was a necklace made of amber. Another was the Nora Jones CD, "Come Away with Me." Was Scott asking Amber to come away with him? If so, Amber was having none of it. She recorded her last call with Scott on Feb. 19, 2003.

Amber: I think it'd be best if you and I didn't talk anymore until there's resolution in this whole-
Scott: Yeah, I agree with that.
Amber: Good,
Scott: You're right.
Amber: So is there anything you want to say before, um, I say goodbye?
Scott: I just, uh-- be well.
Amber: Likewise.
Scott: I hope to talk to you in the future.
Amber: Okay, Scott.
Scott: Goodbye for now.
Amber: Goodbye, Scott.

On March 5, 2003, Modesto police reclassified the Laci Peterson investigation from a missing persons case to a homicide case.

On April 13, the body of a full term baby boy washed ashore in San Francisco Bay. A day later, the torso of a woman was found nearby. Amber says she e-mailed Scott: "Were those the bodies of Laci and Conner?" He never answered. It was her last attempt to contact him.

Scott Peterson was arrested on April 18, 2003 outside San Diego. He'd dyed his hair and grown a goatee.  He was carrying 10-thousand dollars in cash. Police think he was headed for Mexico. A few months before, Amber thought he might be "Mr. Right." But now she knew the real Scott and feared him.

Frey: "I felt some sense of relief that I didn't have to worry so much as far as where's he at.  Constantly saying, is he around Fresno?  Because there were several times that he was in Fresno and I didn't know about it. And it was very uneasy, a very unsettling feeling for me."

Scott Peterson was charged with first degree murder. What lay ahead, was his trial, and the star witness would be Amber Frey.

Lauer: "I remember that piece of footage Amber of you coming down the escalator, and you were about to go in and deliver what most people considered to be some of the most important testimony in that trial. How nervous were you going into court that day?"

Frey: "I remember coming out of my hotel room that morning very lightheaded and kind of, almost lost my-- like backed into the door. I don't know if anybody knows this. I was very nervous."

When Amber Frey took the witness stand last August, Scott Peterson had already been on trial for two months. Many observers thought the prosecution was in trouble. There was very little physical evidence tying Scott to Laci's murder, just a lot of bits and pieces of circumstantial evidence that needed something to hold them together. Amber was the glue. Her testimony and her tape recordings showed Scott Peterson to be an adulterer, a compulsive liar, a man who seemed pathologically able to woo his girlfriend even as his wife was missing and feared dead. 

Lauer: "What was it like to see Scott sitting there?"

Frey: "He was in the courtroom. I knew he was there. But I was there for a reason. And I didn't allow his presence there affect what I needed to do."

Amber testified for seven days. The prosecution played twelve hours of her taped conversations with Scott. Gloria Allred is Amber's attorney.

Lauer: "Her testimony was a piece of the puzzle that convicted Scott Peterson. How big a piece, in your opinion?"

Gloria Allred: "I think it was a substantial piece. I think that the statement that Scott made on those tape recorded telephone calls, that he acknowledged having said to Amber before Laci ever went missing, I lost my wife. And these will be the first holidays without her, that that was important, in terms of premeditation."                   

The jury reached its verdict on Nov. 12, 2004.

Lauer: "When the guilty verdict came in, Amber, what was your reaction to that?"

Frey: "Very emotional. I felt very sad. But I felt that there had been justice. And justice was served."

She thinks the verdict was just, but she is conflicted about the sentence:

Lauer: "The jury recommended a sentence of death. How do you feel about that?"

Frey: "Life gives him every day to live with what has happened. And it's almost to me death is so much simpler."

During that terrible time, two years ago, when Amber was learning about Scott Peterson's secret life, she said she was glad, somehow, that she was the one who could reveal the truth to the world. But she wonders now, even after the tape recordings, the investigation, the trial, if she or anyone else will ever know the ultimate truth about Scott Peterson -- not just what he did, but why?

Lauer: "Here's how you end the book:

I wish I knew what happened inside Scott's tormented soul so that I could at least try to begin to understand it. I often think back to that conversation we had on that cold, long ago January day. "You say you can't tell me. You want to tell me in person. At what point are you going to tell me in person, Scott?" '"Once we find her, once we find her, I'll be able to explain everything to you."

Do you still have a lot of questions?"

Frey: "I think we all do."

Lauer: "You think you'll ever have answers?

Frey: "No, I don't. But that's okay."

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