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Inside Dateline: Sharon Rocha's fight for justice

Throughout the glare of the investigation and the trial, a very private Laci Peterson's mother seemed to comport herself with quiet, stoic dignity. Why is she going public with her family’s story now?


A mother’s trial (Tim Uehlinger, Senior National producer Dateline NBC)

The wind was all that Sharon Rocha could hear, and the water was all she could see. But standing by the San Francisco bay one day in March 2003, Laci Peterson’s mother says she felt a presence. She knew Laci and Conner were out there, somewhere.

It was a month before Laci and Conner’s bodies washed ashore. There, Sharon says, after months of anguish, she had a rare comforting moment.

On Sunday’s Dateline, Jan. 8, for the first time since Scott Peterson was sentenced to death, Sharon Rocha speaks out in a Katie Couric exclusive.

In her new book, “For Laci,” she details how the love of family, friends, and community helped her survive her ordeal. She writes about how much was lost when her daughter was taken. “You wake up from most nightmares and they’re over,”  she writes.  “Mine was different.”

Sharon Rocha’s nightmare began on Christmas 2002 and it hasn’t ended. That night, her 27-year-old daughter Laci Peterson, eight months pregnant, was reported missing by Scott Peterson, Laci’s husband.

Scott Peterson Trial Continues
REDWOOD CITY, CA - JUNE 8: Ron Grantski (L) and Sharon Rocha (R), the step-father and mother of Laci Peterson, arrive at the San Mateo County Court House for the double murder trial of Scott Peterson June 8, 2004 in Redwood City, California. Peterson is facing double murder charges for the murders of his wife Laci and their unborn son Conner. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ron Grantski;Sharon RochaDavid Paul Morris / Getty Images North America

Family, friends, and the Modesto California police began a weeks-long search in the glare of national publicity. Police had early and deep suspicions about Scott Peterson, but Sharon didn’t know that till later.  She publicly stood by her son-in-law, as she told Dateline in an interview two weeks after Laci was first reported missing.  But by that time, Sharon says that she too, began to have doubts she just couldn’t shake.  

Among the things that Katie will ask Sharon in this exclusive interview:

  • About the list Sharon wrote one night with a friend, when she first started doubting Scott — almost like a pros and cons list of why she should or shouldn’t suspect her daughter’s husband
  • How and why she met face-to-face with Peterson’s mistress, Amber Frey, twice
  • About her conversations with Scott during the investigation and the phone messages she left him. In one taped phone message, she reportedly pleaded with Peterson to give the police information about what he did with Laci and her unborn child. But other times she wasn’t pleading, going from utter grief to utter rage. She point-blank accused Peterson of murder.
  • About her thoughts of getting a confession out of Scott Peterson. In her book, she says she daydreamed about torturing or drugging him to get the truth.

Throughout the glare of the investigation and the trial, a very private Sharon Rocha seemed to comport herself with quiet, stoic dignity. Why is she going public with her family’s story now?

Click here to preview some quotes from this interview, and tune in to Dateline Sunday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m. Click here or write to send us your e-mails on this story, which three years later, still resonates with the American public.


An interview with Sharon Rocha

She's the mother who endured the unthinkable: the murder of her pregnant Laci and the very public trial of her son-in-law, Scott Peterson. In their first primetime interview two years ago, Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother told Katie Couric about the pain.

On Sunday's Dateline, Sharon Rocha's first in-depth interview since Scott Peterson was given the death penalty. She talks about her fight for justice and what was going on behind the scenes during the trial. A Katie Couric exclusive.


What were the stories that users clicked on most on Dateline online? We've compiled the top 10 most-clicked pages of 2005.

  1. Lynndie England: Behind the Abu Ghraib photos
  2. Scott Peterson's sister speaks out
  3. Imagining what might have been: John Lennon slideshow
  4. Amber Frey unravels Scott Peterson's lies
  5. What happened to Taylor Behl?
  6. World’s least-alike twins
  7. A child frozen in time
  8. Few clues in honeymoon cruise disappearance | Update
  9. Catching potential Internet sex predators | Update
  10. Little girl lost

Click here to see what was most-clicked on

Happy New Year from all of us here at Dateline.


Top rated story!

Our "Dateline" story on people's memories of slain Beatle John Lennon was the Top Rated feature on this year! Rounding out the top 25, "Children of War in Uganda."

Click here to see more of's top rated features.