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Laci Cops Chased 10,000 Tips

In the nearly 17-month long investigation that led up to Scott Peterson's double murder trial, police fielded more than 10,000 tips, employed more than 300 officers and worked with about 90 separate agencies, the lead detective in the case testified Tuesday.

"Is the size of this case anything like you have every experienced before?" asked prosecutor Birgit Fladager.

"No, I have not," Modesto police Detective Craig Grogan replied.

Grogan spent a portion of Tuesday morning describing for jurors the enormous extent of the investigation that would have police tracking and ruling out about 74 possible sightings of Laci Peterson on the day she vanished, Dec. 24, 2002.

"Could you corroborate any of these sightings as actually being Laci Peterson?" Fladager asked.

"No," Grogan said.

He explained how he personally, as the lead detective, has prepared more than 3,200 pages of documents, including 1,500 pages of typed narrative.

The case involves more than 42,000 pages of documents, 115 audio tapes and 74 videotapes, Grogan said.

A day earlier, Grogan testified that within a week of his pregnant wife's disappearance, Scott Peterson had already come up with two theories of how she went missing.

Grogan testified Monday that Peterson initially theorized that Laci "had been wearing jewelry that she inherited from her grandmother and that he'd seen her wearing it on that morning, and when she went into the park a transient had robbed her for her jewelry."

The theory came out during Grogan's three-hour interview of Peterson on Dec. 25, 2002, a day after Laci Peterson was reported missing.

Grogan later said police found in the house all of the jewelry Peterson said his wife had been wearing that morning, except for a pair of diamond earrings.

Grogan said that on Jan. 2, Peterson again said something that struck him.

"He brought up the idea ... Laci had been abducted so that the child could be taken from her," Grogan said. "He said, 'Do you think when she has the baby that I'll get half my family back?"'

There would be a number of things that Peterson said and did in the weeks after his wife vanished that raised Grogan's suspicions, the detective said.

Prosecutors allege Peterson killed his eight-months pregnant wife on or around Dec. 24, 2002, in their Modesto home, then dumped her weighted body into San Francisco Bay.

The remains of Laci Peterson and her fetus washed up along a bay shore in April 2003, not far from where Scott Peterson launched his boat that Christmas Eve morning for what he claims was a solo fishing trip.

Defense lawyers maintain that someone else abducted and killed Laci.

Peterson faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted on the double-murder charges.

Grogan also explained why police focused on Peterson so early in the investigation — his alibi couldn't be corroborated, he was the last person to have seen Laci and, among other things, he washed his clothes immediately upon returning home that day.

"That led us to believe that possibly a cleanup had occurred at the house," Grogan said.

Previous witnesses have testified that none of Laci Peterson's blood was found in the home.

Grogan said it was Peterson's story and "unusual" behavior that led police to seek search warrants for his home and warehouse, where he stored the boat prosecutors allege he used to dispose of his wife's body. No forensic evidence of a crime scene existed at Peterson's home.

Grogan said he grew even more suspicious of Peterson when he searched the warehouse on Dec. 27, 2002, where he discovered concrete residue on a boat trailer and five circularlike voids in the cement dust.

Prosecutors claim Peterson made five cement anchors, only one of which was found on his boat. They allege he used the other four anchors to sink his wife's body. Peterson claims he made just one weight.

"It looked like a tremendous mess for making one eight-pound anchor," Grogan said.

Grogan explained for jurors how he even questioned Laci's half-sister and brother to rule them out as suspects.

Laci had recently inherited about $100,000 worth of jewelry from her grandmother and stood to gain an additional $160,000 from the estate, according to previous testimony.

Grogan said he interviewed her relatives to see if anyone "had a financial motive to dispose of Laci." He later confirmed their alibis for the day Laci vanished.

In one recorded telephone call played for jurors Monday, Peterson remains cooperative with Grogan. He even asks Grogan if the detective had spoken with his lawyer, then agrees to continue answering questions. He also expresses interest in getting one of his vehicles back from police so he could assist in the search for his wife.

At one point in a face-to-face talk, "He had tears in his eyes," Grogan said.

Grogan was expected to continue testifying into next week, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi told jurors. Delucchi said the prosecution should wrap up its case by Sept. 30, 18 weeks after it began.