Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The circles on the trailer - the ah-hah moment that fizzled

During the search of the warehouse on December 27, 2003, Detective Dodge Hendee experienced an ah-hah moment. He saw concrete mix powder on the trailer in the shape of circles, a pitcher, and the anchor that Scott said he made at home fitting perfectly into the pitcher. From this, Hendee concluded that Scott made additional anchors that were used to weigh Laci down. In fact, he was so sure about it that he conducted 22 searches of the Bay for those anchors, calling in the most sophisticated side sonar equipment in the US and the most expert FBI dive team, in addition to using the resources of several other agencies in the area.

So what fizzled? Well, the anchor didn't fit perfectly into the pitcher after all, and a concrete expert said the anchor Scott had was not made in that pitcher. Hendee reluctantly almost admitted that he was fooled into thinking that there were actually circles in the concrete mix powder because he mistakenly thought the anchor had been made in the pitcher.

GERAGOS: At the time you thought Ah-hah, I've got some evidence, because the pitcher fits in there, right?
GERAGOS: All right. And that was part of the, it kind of led you to see those circles on the trailer, too, didn't it?
HARRIS: Objection.
GERAGOS: I mean, you thought,
JUDGE: Wait, wait, wait. One at a time. Sustained. Argumentative.
GERAGOS: Okay. Well, your idea was that this, the anchor, was made in this, the pitcher?
HENDEE: That's what we thought.
GERAGOS: And then from there you extrapolated that the pitcher was on the trailer, and therefore, if it was in four locations, there must have been four of these, right?
HENDEE: We felt that was a possibility.
GERAGOS: Okay. You thought it was more than a possibility; you searched the Bay 22 times looking for these, right?
HENDEE: Exactly.
GERAGOS: Okay. And it turns out at the end of the day the pitcher never made it, right?
HENDEE: Right.

He was more forthright about admitting he was mistaken about the anchor being a perfect fit for the pitcher.

GERAGOS: Okay. And as it was on the trailer, he was taking this item, the concrete, right?
HENDEE: Yes, sir.
GERAGOS: The anchor, and he was holding it like this?
GERAGOS: As it was inside, right?
GERAGOS: And it was his and your opinion that it was a perfect fit?
HENDEE: Mistakenly so.
GERAGOS: Tell the jury why that was mistakenly so.
HENDEE: Because it was looked at by a concrete expert who determined that this mold was not made in this pitcher.

Here are 3 pictures of the trailer before the MPD marked the "circles" with evidence markers, followed by a series of pictures taken by John and Robyn Ungari at their local Home Depot. Seems like concrete mix bags tend to spread a lot of dust around, some even could be called "circles."


Burkey said...

My boyfriend has commented that he thought there was concrete evidence against Peterson, that is, that the concrete was seen as a definite sign he'd been doing something other than working around the backyard pool area. Something about the concrete dust being in the boat. But it the stuff gets everywhere, and if he made an anchor, it seems logical that concrete dust might just be in the boat from that anchor, and maybe not from a whole bunch of anchors.

Frankly when I try to imagine Peterson standing up in that 14-foot boat to toss an anchor-laden body over the side, I really don't see that boat not tipping over. That's just not a very big boat, as all those fishing experts surely must understand?

Marlene Newell said...

Specifically, Bruce Peterson, who sold Scott the boat and who was asked to examine it for anything different in its condition, "said that he saw traces of cement on the boat that were not there when he turned the boat over to Peterson."

That would indeed be good evidence indeed, if Scott's homemade anchor wasn't made out of cement and wasn't right there in the boat when the police confiscated it.

Moreover, if 4 anchors were tied to the body and that body lifted overboard with the anchors, I would expect there to be more evidence left behind than traces of cement. I would expect there to be some scratches or other marks on the boat from those 4 anchors. But then, I live in a practical world were crime leaves evidence.

Anonymous said...

You know, I never did see the "circles" that they claim to have seen....even after they marked them for the picture taking...but that's just me.

And, I also wonder WHY, during those many searches of the waters, in such a shallow area, were there none of these anchors found. It doesn't add up.

Bruce Dombrowski said...

funny, in everything i've read, everyone assumes scott tossed laci over the "side" of the boat, saying it would have capsized the boat....personally i would have tossed her from the bow, wouldnt even have to stand up.

Burkey said...

I don't think you could stand up if you were going to shift that amount of weight in that size boat. You'd have to keep your center of gravity low.

I do think if Scott had transported a body in his boat, the cadaver dogs would have scented it.