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Amber Frey unravels Scott Peterson's lies

In the first interview she's ever given, Amber Frey recounts her entire tortured relationship with Scott Peterson, the three months of pillow talk, lies, romantic gifts and wiretapped phone calls. It ended in a courtroom, but it began with a blind date on Nov. 20, 2002.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

In the first interview she's ever given, Amber Frey recounts her entire tortured relationship with Scott Peterson, the three months of pillow talk, lies, romantic gifts and wiretapped phone calls. It ended in a courtroom, but it began with a blind date on Nov. 20, 2002.

Frey: "He opened the door. I thought he was handsome. He had a nice smile. I stood up. He kind of gave me a little peck on the cheek. "

Matt Lauer: "Was he your type?"

Frey: "I don't know if I have a type."

Lauer: "You weren't disappointed when he walked in the door?"

Frey: "No, I wasn't disappointed, no."

Amber's best friend had met Scott and thought he was perfect for Amber. Amber agreed to meet him when he was passing through Fresno on business.

Frey: "He said, you know, he goes it was strange. I kind of had , I had butterflies before I came here. He almost seemed a little more nervous than I did."

Lauer: "You know sometimes when someone says something like that it can seem a little bit like a line?"

Frey: "No it came across very genuine to me."

Lauer: "It didn't sound like he was some kind of a smooth operator type guy?"

Frey: "No, I didn't sense that from him at all, no."

But then Scott said instead of going to dinner immediately, he wanted to stop at his hotel.                    

Frey: "He'd been working all day. He wanted to, you know, I thought he looked nice, you know, what he was wearing. But I could understand if you're working all day, and he just wanted to freshen up."

When Scott took her up to his room, he pulled a bottle of champagne from his duffel bag.

Lauer: "Were you surprised at all that he had the champagne ready?"

Frey: "I thought it was a nice gesture. And nothing more than that. And he also pulled out a thing of strawberries. And I thought wow, okay. Yeah."

Scott showered, then they went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Scott arranged for a private room, just the two of them. The conversation and the wine flowed freely.

Lauer: "Did you talk about his relationships that he had had?"

Frey: "You know, we really didn't talk a whole lot about relationships. I believe I asked if he had ever been married, and he said no."

Scott told her he sold farm fertilizer for a company based in Spain, and traveled all over the world, so much so that he never settled down -- no wife, no girlfriend, not even a dog.

Frey: "He said he lived in Sacramento, that he also had a condo in San Diego, and he had found a couple that wanted to purchase the condo furnished, and with a Land Rover. So, I thought, wow. That's a pretty good deal."

Amber had no way to know it, but almost none of that was true. Scott Peterson wasn't single. He didn't live in Sacramento. He didn't own a condo in San Diego. Only one detail was factual, and it would later seem chilling. The Land Rover he said he wanted to sell did exist. It belonged to his wife, Laci.

Lauer: "So, at this point in the date, a scale of one to 10, how was it going?"

Frey: "I felt like it was going really well, so if I had to put a number on it, I mean it was maybe a 10."

Lauer: "You were having a good time?"

Frey: "I was having a good time. Conversation was good. He was very much a gentleman."

When the restaurant closed, they went to a karaoke bar. They sang a duet, badly, she says. They slow danced until closing time. Then they drove back to Scott's hotel.

Lauer: "It's been well reported that you spent the night."

Frey: "Yes."

Lauer: "What were you thinking at that time? Was it the champagne? Or was it the charm of Scott Peterson?"

Frey: "Probably a little bit of both."

Lauer: "You woke up the next day did you think, what have I just done?"

Lauer: "Did you say to him, Scott, by the way, this is not something I normally do?"

Frey: "When we went back to where my car was parked, we kind of had a little, you know, conversation about that. I just kind of felt, ewww. And he was just more assuring that it was okay, that it was just kind of appropriate for how the evening was."

Lauer: "You don't think, maybe I’ll never hear from him again?"

Frey: "I had a good feeling, and a sense that I would hear from him again. That it wasn't just going to be a one night stand."

The truth was, at age 27, Amber was a little lonely. She'd grown up in and around Fresno. Her parents split up when she was young, and romance had not always been kind to Amber, either. She'd had an affair with a married man. Then her daughter's father left when Amber got pregnant. Amber had put herself through massage therapy school, and she was determined to start her own business. But she also says she wouldn't mind finding a man who'd treat her right.

Lauer:  "The next time you saw Scott was what, December 2?"

Frey: "Yes."

Lauer: "Because he said he was coming through Fresno?"

Frey: "Right."

Lauer: "And so, you were excited to see him?"

Frey: "Yeah."                                  

Scott came to Amber's home. He got along great with Amber's two year old daughter, Ayiana. He took them hiking, cooked them dinner.  

In her book, "Witness," Amber writes that she told Scott that night how much she valued the truth.

Lauer: "You said, it's so much better to tell someone the truth, even if it's hard, than to lie. Because even a tiny lie leads to mistrust. And once trust has been broken, it's hard to rebuild. He said, I agree with you."

Frey: "Yes."

Lauer: "Here's this guy. Kind of sounds like a dream guy. He's good looking. He's charming  He's got a little money, maybe. Good with your daughter. When did you find out that he was also married?"

Frey: "That would be December 9, when he called kind of out of the blue to see if I was home, that he needed to talk to me."

Later, Scott came to her house and dropped a bomb.

Lauer: "He basically said at that time in that conversation, you know, I haven't been completely honest with you, I lost my wife. Did you ask him how he lost his wife?"

Frey: "I didn't feel it was appropriate to pry on how. Just because he was so emotional, almost like putting salt on a wound.                    

Scott tearfully explained that he regretted lying before, but it was just too painful to talk about the loss of his wife.

Frey: "You know, he's sitting you know, right in front of me here. And we're holding hands. And he's like, you're not angry? And I said, no. How could I be angry? I could understand."

Lauer: "I mean, it's a window on your personality, really. Because at that point, you want to trust him again. You wanted to believe him."

Frey: "Uh-huh."

Lauer: "And you felt compassion for him."

Frey: "Uh-huh."

But Amber didn't know Scott's confession was false. His wife was very much alive -- and eight months pregnant. Amber also didn't know Scott had been using the internet to study ocean currents in San Francisco Bay.

And she didn't know that on the same day he broke the news to her that he'd "lost his wife," he'd bought a second-hand fishing boat. It would eventually become a key in the murder case against him. Five days later, Scott continued his secret life, taking Amber to a formal dance.

Lauer: "He brought you roses."

Frey: "Uh huh."

Lauer: "Three dozen roses, by the way."

Frey: "Yes."

Lauer: "More champagne that night?"

Frey: "Yes."

That same night, 100 miles away in Modesto, Scott's wife Laci attended a Christmas party alone. Scott told her he had to go on a business trip.

Lauer: "That night, you had an interesting exchange with Scott. You said to him, can I trust you with my heart? You know the answer to that already, he said."

Frey: "Which I felt he wanted me to answer it for him, which would be yes. The implication that I was perceiving from him. But I wanted to hear it. That didn't settle well with me."

Scott spent the night at Amber's. The next day, he told her he was going on a long trip, to Maine for the holidays with his parents, then to Europe to celebrate the New Year and do some business. Of course, he was really just going home to his wife, something Amber never suspected, until she asked where she could send him a Christmas gift. Scott gave her a post office box in Modesto, 80 miles from Sacramento, where Scott claimed he lived. 

Frey: "That was really the first time that my heart sunk."

Lauer: "When you say your heart sunk, describe the feelings."

Frey: "I got teary-eyed. It was just really the first time that I felt things weren't sounding right.

Lauer: "Is it fair to say, Amber, that you had had some disappointing relationships in the past, and you started to think, here we go again?"

Frey: "Right."

Scott called Amber often over the next few days and lied repeatedly about his travels. On December 23, Scott told Amber he was in Maine, duck hunting with his dad. In fact, on December 23, Laci took Scott to get a pre-Christmas haircut near their Modesto home. That night, Laci Peterson called her mom, about 8:30 p.m. It's the last time she's known to have talked to anyone, except her husband, Scott.

Amber went to bed that same night and woke up in the early hours of the morning after a terrible nightmare. A man was tickling her daughter so violently that the child couldn't breathe. 

Frey: "And then I just kept seeing this face. It was a woman. She was laughing. And I kept yelling, quit laughing, she can't breathe. And I woke up, because I couldn't breathe."

Amber later became convinced that the laughing woman in her dream was Laci Peterson. It was the morning of December 24, Christmas Eve, the day investigators believe Scott Peterson dumped Laci's body out of his new boat, and into the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay.

Lauer: "Did he call you on the 24th?"

Frey: "No."

Lauer: "The day that police say he killed Laci, there was no call from Scott to you."

Frey: "Mm-mm."

But Scott did call Laci's parents to say she was missing. He said she must have vanished from their house while he was away, fishing. Laci's folks called the police. Soon, a massive search was underway. The very next day, Christmas Day, Scott called Amber twice, even as volunteers searched for his missing, pregnant wife.

On the 26th, police searched the Peterson home. They impounded Scott's truck and Laci's Land Rover, the one Scott mentioned to Amber he might be selling. All of it was on TV, but Amber didn't watch TV. She'd never heard of Laci Peterson. And as far as she knew, Scott was on a flight to Paris.

Lauer: "You called him to leave a message on his cell phone, so that he would get it when he arrived in Paris."

Frey: "Right."

Lauer: "But he picked up."

Frey: "Right."

Lauer: "He's supposed to be flying over the Atlantic."

Frey: "And I was just surprised. And I said, where you at? And he says, I'm in New York. And I said, so your flight was supposed to have left this morning. And he says, Yeah, I know. And I said, well, you know, why didn't you call?"

The Modesto address. The bogus itinerary. It didn't add up. Amber asked Scott if he had another girlfriend or a wife. He said no.

Frey: "And I felt bad. Because I was having this mistrust towards him. And he said, you have nothing to apologize. I'm sorry. I should be more considerate with your feelings. You have nothing to, you know, feel bad about. So he took the blame for me."

Lauer: "So, every time you got uneasy about something, he had a knack about him where he could find a way to not only settle you down, but take on the responsibility himself, and move on?"

Frey: "Right."

Lauer: "So, again in hindsight, he had a great knack for stringing you along?"

Frey: "Pretty much, yeah."

But only so far. As it happened, Amber knew a Fresno police officer. He offered to check Scott out. Amber was expecting, at worst, to find out that Scott was married. On December 29 she got an urgent call from her friend the cop.

Lauer: "1:40 in the morning, he calls you."

Frey: "Yes. And he said, you know, he said, there's a number I'm going to give you. You need to call this number, and talk to them."

The number he gave her was the Modesto Police Department. And that call, would change everything.