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tv   Nightline  ABC  September 15, 2017 12:37am-1:07am EDT

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, truth and lies. a young pregnant woman disappears. her boyfriend pleading for her return. >> there's so many people, so many people that miss you, who are praying that you're safe. >> now he's under arrest. the case eerily similar to one that captivated this country so many years ago when laci peterson went missing. her family made those same tearful pleas. >> whoever has her please, please, please let her go, bring her back to us. >> we love her so much. we want her back. >> her community mobilized. but her husband's story wasn't adding up. >> is it possible they think you know where she is? >> i -- i think a lot of people believe that. >> as scott peterson's lies unraveled -- >> scott told me he was not married. >> the authorities closed in.
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>> i buy her a tape recorder and tell her, if he ever calls, just push these two buttons and just talk normal. >> the new interview with the other woman who helped bring him down. the dramatic arrest and the trial that decided his fate. >> did you murder your wife? but first the "nightline 5." >> trivago makes it easy to find the ideal hotel for best price. go to trivago, type in where you want to go, with two clicks select your check-in and check i've out dates and search. easily compare all the hotel rooms that meet your search criteria and find the room that is ideal for you. remember, trivago shows you all the different prices for the exact same room. and that's how you can be sure that you find your ideal hotel for the best price. hotel trivago. >> number one is coming up in just 60 seconds.
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good evening. thank you for joining us. just days ago, tyler item essier was in tears at a press conference over the disappearance of his pregnant girlfriend. now police believe it was all an act. tonight he's under arrest and charged with her murder. this case bears striking similarities to one that dominated the headlines nearly 15 years ago. the murder of laci peterson. a pregnant young woman gone missing. laura wallens' loved ones tearfully asking for her return. >> there's so many people, so many people that miss you, who are praying that you're safe. >> reporter: this was the scene last week in maryland as the missing woman's boyfriend, tyler tessier, held her mother's hand. but if this story reminded you of another case of a missing pregnant woman, the possible parallels are about to intensefy. >> the maryland man arraigned on murder charges in the death of
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his girlfriend -- >> reporter: tyler tessier was charged with murder on wednesday. his lawyer had no comment. but the earlier case of scott peterson and the disappearance of his beautiful wife laci continues to haunt us to this day. december 24th, 2002. >> hi, can i help you? >> yes, my daughter has been missing since this morning. she's eight months pregnant. she took her dog for a walk in the park. >> reporter: laci peterson, 27 years old, 7 1/2 months pregnant, goes missing on christmas eve, making national news headlines. >> a california man is anxiously waiting to hear word on the mysterious christmas eve disappearance of his pregnant wife. >> she's considered a high-risk missing person under suspicious circumstances. laci was last seen by her husband scott. >> reporter: the community quickly mobilizes, making flyers and searching for laci. >> please bring her back to us. >> please. >> reporter: laci peterson and her husband scott peterson had been married just a few years.
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they were expecting the birth of their first child. but scott quickly becomes a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife. >> the first person you focus at in a homicide investigation is the person closest to the victim. >> scott peterson says that laci went to walk their dog mckenzie. >> scott finished fishing that day at some point in the afternoon. and made a phone call to laci. >> hey, beautiful. i won't be able to get to villa farms to get that basket for papa. i was hoping you would get this message and go on out there. i'll see you in a bit, sweetie, about. ye. >> scott peterson says he came back home from his fishing trip, minus the fish. and comes in, laci! no laci. >> so what does he do? he goes over to the washing machine, takes all the clothes out, takes all his clothes off and washes them. then he gets some pizza out. he drinks some milk and eats
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some pizza. he goes and takes a shower. and then he calls sharon and says, laci's missing. >> i remember running around in the park and yelling her name. there's nothing worse than lifting up a trash can, looking for your child to see if her body is in a trash can. i remember doing that. >> reporter: laci had seemingly disappeared without a trace. >> we didn't find any fingerprints that were present in the house that didn't belong there. there was nothing that was missing from the house. tv was still there. all the normal things that burglars will take quickly, so they can get out of there. >> so what scenario does that leave? >> i suspected scott when i first met him. didn't mean he did it, but i was a little bit thrown off by his calm, cool demeanor. >> reporter: police decide to bring in scott for questioning, seen here in this interrogation video. >> so today, she told you what she was going to do for the day. >> yeah. >> and what was that? >> take the dog for a walk.
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and then she was going to the store to buy for christmas morning breakfast tomorrow. she was going to make gingerbread cookies for tonight. >> he didn't have that sense of urgency that you would expect, that you saw from other people. >> have you guys -- you guys haven't had any problems, marriage problems? >> no. >> everything's good? >> uh-huh. >> you been married four years? >> yeah. >> he just doesn't seem like the guy whose wife is missing. >> reporter: while scott seems cool, calm and collected, laci's parents make an emotional plea for their daughter's safe return. >> whoever has her, please, please, please let her go. bring her back to us. >> we love her so much. we want her back. please. let us have her back. >> scott was always in the background, he always gave the excuse he didn't want it to be about him, he wanted the focus to be on laci. >> if your wife or husband or baby were missing, what would you do? to find them?
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how far would you go? to the end of the effort? earth? to the local tv station? who wouldn't? scott peterson. >> it's our thoughts that if i was to hold back from the media, the media would continue to come. because frankly, cameras, reporters, they want something they can't get right away. this was our way of keeping the media coming back for it. >> reporter: days pass and still no laci. so police decide to expand their search to the water. >> we believe she was in the bay. so we're searching the bay. what's he doing? he's renting cars, driving to the bay. just to see where we're looking, to see where the boats are. he isn't checking in with us to say, hey, how's the search going? >> is it possible they think you know where she is? >> i think a lot of people believe that. >> are you afraid police will arrest you? >> no.
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i know there's no basis. i had nothing to do with her disappearance. so there's no possible evidence or anything like that. >> i mean, it's not like this is a total stranger that you might be suspecting. because i knew in my heart that if he did, she wasn't coming home. >> reporter: that night the family holds a candlelight vigil for laci. >> just keep looking for laci. please don't give up. >> they ask about the candlelight vigil that we held in the park. they asked, why weren't you on that stage with the family? frankly, because this isn't about us, to be out in front of the camera. it's about us to work toward bringing home one person that's hurting the most. the piece of our family that's missing right now. >> reporter: unbeknownst to everyone, while at that vigil, scott places a call to another woman. amber frey. >> i met scott peterson november 20th, 2002. scott told me he was not married.
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we did have a romantic relationship. >> amber frey had contacted modesto police department on monday, december 30th, 2002. she met with detectives and gave the information about the relationship with scott peterson. and amber frey has been eliminated as a suspect in laci peterson's disappearance. >> he was good-looking, he was nice, he was funny. attendive to me. i really liked him. and felt really good about where things were going. and our conversations and time spent together. >> amber frey was not his first lover outside the marriage. okay? i mean, that's a given. the only thing that had changed is that laci got pregnant. >> i remembered asking him if he'd ever been married. he said no. >> but that wasn't true, of course. and as it turns out, amber's friend, who introduced her to scott, found out that he was married and confronted him and said, if you don't tell amber, i will. >> reporter: however, in early
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december, scott peterson does come clean. sort of. he tells amber that he is married but implies that his wife has died. and just weeks later his wife would actually go missing. >> amber frey started cooperating with police as soon as she learned that the man of her dreams was really a married man whose wife had disappeared, and he had been lying to her all along. >> i buy her a tape recorder with some cassette tapes and a wire that can hook onto her phone. and i tell her, okay, if he ever calls, just push these two buttons and just talk normal. the phone rings. and it's scott peterson. i'm like, that's him. showtime, girl. >> hey, happy new year's. >> happy new year's. >> what they heard on december 31st, 2002, was a scott peterson who, while a candlelight vigil is being held for his missing wife and he's attending it, is also on the phone with amber frey, being recorded unbeknownst to him, telling her that he's in
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europe. >> i'm near the eiffel tower. new year's, it's unreal. the crowd, it's huge. >> the crowd's huge? >> he was right down the street. where the vigil was taking place. okay? >> now the motive not only becomes clear, it's personified. there she is. he killed laci to be with this woman. >> instantly, as soon as amber frey showed up, people are like, he's guilty. he now is enemy number one. everybody hates scott peterson. >> scott, why don't you answer some questions? >> did you murder your wife? >> stay with us. king the tissue? yep, and my teeth are yellow. i mean i knew they weren't perfect, but ugh. oh well! all hope is lost. oh, thanks! clearly my whitening toothpaste is not cutting it. time for whitestrips. whitening toothpaste only works on the surface. but crest 3d white whitestrips safely work... below the enamel surface... whiten 25x better than a leading whitening toothpaste.
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"nightline" continues. >> now back to the disappearance of laci peterson -- >> reporter: early 2003. laci peterson, then 7 1/2 months pregnant, is missing. and all eyes are on her husband, scott peterson. >> how are you doing personally, how are you holding up to all of this? >> tremendous strain, obviously. >> got anything to say? >> is there anything you want to say? >> it was crazy. it blew out of control. >> it was a tsunami. a frenzy. he was the most hated man in america at that time. >> this morning an exclusive interview with scott peterson. >> reporter: in his first network television interview, scott sat down with abc's diane sawyer. >> i think everybody sitting at home wants the answer to the same question. did you murder your wife? >> no. no. eat just -- i had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance. and i know that suspicion has turned to me. because of the inappropriate
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romantic that i had with amber frey. >> did your wife find out about it? >> i told my wife. >> when? >> early december. >> a lot of arguing? >> no. >> there wasn't a lot of anger? >> no. >> do you really expect people to believe that an 8 1/2 month pregnant woman learns her husband is having an affair and is saintly and casual about it? accommodating? makes a peace with it? >> well, i -- yeah. i -- you don't know -- no one knows our relationship but us. >> reporter: less than three months later, on the shores of san francisco bay, a breakthrough in the case. >> the contra costa county coroner has arrived on the scene and has recovered the remains of the victim. >> when the bodies came up, it automatically injected a big sense of urgency in the case. >> i just thought, we got to
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find scott. we knew he was in saying at the time. didn't have a tracker on his car. >> san diego was pretty close to the mexican border. >> when scott was by the exit to torrey pines and they turned on the red and blue lights and stopped him at the entrance -- >> this is a tragedy. it is affecting many lives. scott peterson has been arrested. there are no other suspects in this case. >> i went out once the vehicle was there to do the inventory search on it. and just a whole bunch of stuff in the car. >> guy had $14,000, $15,000 cash, his brother's i.d. >> camping supplies. >> some ropes, knifes. >> 15 pairs of shoes and hiking boots. shovel, fishing poles. >> he had dyed his hair red, he had a goatee. >> like james bond on a secret agent mission. clearly he was getting ready to possibly go somewhere and hide out. >> reporter: modesto police took peterson into custody. he was charged with capital murder. >> suddenly a sleepy, sluggish little town like modesto is
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transformed into a media circus. >> reporter: no cameras were allowed inside the courtroom. at trial the defense would argue that laci was abducted but by someone else. >> the most likely thing that happened is that she was abducted and she was abducted by someone other than my client. and that she was abducted while walking her dog. >> on the 24th, the neighbors across the street left their home to go to los angeles. someone robbed their home. this is right across the street from the peterson house. so when this information came out, immediately there was a sense that, okay, maybe laci, who was walking the dog, came across this burglary and that's what happened to her, maybe she was taken away. >> reporter: the prosecution, meanwhile, arguing that scott was responsible for murdering his wife and unborn child. >> i thought, basically innocent. for a long time. then it started going -- shifting the other by. >> there was a lot of evidence against scott peterson, all right? it was a circumstantial evidence case. but that doesn't mean it was
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weak. it was a very strong, powerful, compelling case. >> they looked at his computer use. and they saw that he was looking at the currents in the san francisco bay. >> there was two separate really strong pieces of evidence that worked together. the fact that the bodies were in the bay where scott put himself. and the other significant aspect about that is, scott predicted that this was going to happen to laci weeks before it happened. when he met with amber frey at the beginning of december. >> this has to be the biggest coincidence i have ever heard of. i mean, are you psychic? you predicted your wife would be missing? >> on august 10th, when amber frey started her testimony and those recordings started to play, there was a turning point for the prosecution. >> from the moment i learned the truth, it wasn't about me. it was about a missing pregnant woman. there was information that i had
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that nobody knew or heard. >> amber frey and those tapes totally turned the case upside down. and it sunk scott peterson. >> scott realized that as soon as it came out that it was amber, all bets were off. >> oh, yes, you said you lost your wife. >> no, that -- yes -- >> obviously without me saying much. >> i said that i lost my wife. >> yes, you did. >> i did. and yes -- >> how did you lose her then, before she was lost? explain that. >> there's different kinds of lost, amber. >> a guy supposedly out there searching desperately to find his missing wife. and he's telling this girlfriend he lost his wife? that's a tough piece of testimony to overcome. >> reporter: then on november 12th, 2004 -- >> there were definite butterflies when we got word that there was a verdict.
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>> we, the jury, in the above-titled cause find the defendant, scott lee peterson, guilty of the crime of murder -- >> there was gasps from the defense side. just like, oh! they couldn't believe it. they absolutely could not believe it. you could see it. they just -- they were stunned. >> reporter: a guilty verdict. and at sentencing, scott peterson is given the death penalty. >> what convinced you to choose the sentence of death? >> i played in my mind over and over, conspiracy, was somebody trying to set up scott, was somebody after laci? it didn't add up, for me. >> what a nightmare. it hasn't changed. it's still a nightmare. it should never have happened. it's hurt too many people for no reason. but justice was served. >> obviously we're very disappointed.
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obviously we plan on pursuing every and all appeals. >> guess what, scotty? >> san quentin's your new home. >> and it's illegal to kill your wife and child in california. >> we'll be right back. when you're close to the people you love, does psoriasis ever get in the way of a touching moment? if you have moderate to severe psoriasis, you can embrace the chance of completely clear skin with taltz. taltz is proven to give you a chance at completely clear skin. with taltz, up to 90% of patients had a significant improvement of their psoriasis plaques. in fact, 4 out of 10 even achieved completely clear skin. do not use if you are allergic to taltz. before starting you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. tell your doctor if you are being treated
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we want to thank you for watching abc news tonight. as always we're online 24/7 at and on our "nightline" facebook page. thanks again for watching and good night. >> get ready because you're about to watch some folks play a game for the kind of life-changing money that most of us just dream about. this is "who wants to be a millionaire." [cheers and applause] [dramatic music] ♪ hey, everyone, welcome to the show. you guys ready to go today? [cheers and applause] i know this guy is. we're in the middle of a good game. from sugar land, texas, let's
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welcome back paul schmalz. >> thank you. [cheers and applause] >> actually, i lied--we're not in the middle of a game. we're well beyond the middle. we are up near the top there. you have $30,000 in your bank right now. you're just five questions away from $1 million. >> whoo. [cheers and applause] >> all the lifelines are gone, and you're at a very pivotal part of the game because the next step, $50,000, which, as you know, is the next and the last threshold you can get to in this game, so, if you get this next one right, 50 grand's the worst we're doing here. >> yes, sir. >> shall we get back to your game? >> yes, sir. >> all right, let's do it. >> let's play "who wants to be a millionaire." [cheers and applause] [dramatic music] ♪ all right, it's fun when you start a day off with a $50,000 question. >> yes, sir. >> here it is. while he would later find his way into acting, who dropped out of his florida high school in


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