While watching the episode of Grace vs Abrams that I participated in a couple months back, they aired the following exchange:
Nancy Grace: “Okay wait a minute, I want to hear him on the phone with Amber. Everybody, listen to part of the secret tapes where Amber Frey allegedly catches Scott in multiple lies, speaking of lies.”
Audio Clip of Amber Frey speaking to Scott on the phone:
Amber: “Yeah and I deserve to understand an explanation of why you told me you lost your wife and this was the first holidays you’d spend without her? That was December 9th you told me this and now all of a sudden your wife is missing? Are you kidding me?
Nancy Grace: “That’s bad”
Janey Peterson: “That’s not bad when you look at the tips that are coming in and then you hear about a burglary happening across the street and – those are the things that were going through our family’s mind.”
When I heard my own response to that phone call being played about Scott's infidelity lies, I cringed and thought, “Did I say that?” I would never say Scott's lies to Amber were 'not bad'. But clearly those words came out of my mouth. I wondered if it had been edited in some way. Had they swapped my response from another topic? It had been a little over 4 weeks since the taping of the show, so I couldn’t immediately remember what the topic might have been.
Later in the show they aired this exchange between Dan Abrams and me:
Dan Abrams: “You think it was just – it’s just horrible luck – that Scott had said to Amber, “I lost my wife on December 9th,” that she goes missing two weeks later, and that the body was then found in the bay where Scott Peterson was fishing four months later? Do you think that’s just bad luck?”
Janey Peterson: “First off, yes, I think it’s horrible what Scott said to Amber. Secondly, I don’t think the bodies being found in the bay have anything to do with luck. When I was sitting at home December 26th and watching TV with Laci missing and I saw on national news that the Modesto Police announced Scott’s alibi, I – I was stunned. My thought was, ‘We do not know who has Laci. We do not know what their intent is. And if their intent is to harm her, they’re going to put her in the bay.’”
This is two completely opposite responses to the same phone call. They have me saying, “That’s not bad…” and then later I say, “I think it’s horrible…”; the latter being more in line with my thoughts on the subject. Clearly they had done some editing on what was supposed to be a ‘live to tape’ interview. I began to rack my brain for what my earlier comments had, in fact, been in response to.
Was it worth trying to remember? Was it worth correcting publicly? We learned a long time ago that we can’t chase down all the misinformation and we are always evaluating where to put our efforts. I kept wondering, though, had anyone else cringed at my alleged response? Ultimately, I decided it was worth a mention. After all, one of the reasons we agreed to do the show was because it was “live to tape”. This generally means, that what they tape is what gets aired. While we were told there may be some minor editing, completely swapping responses is in no way appropriate. Editing is a very powerful tool, and this is a perfect example of how words can be twisted in an editing room.
Since I decided to do some sort of public correction, I first needed to remember exactly what WAS said. This part of the search entailed watching the show a couple more times and reviewing the notes I had taken right after the taping to see if that would trigger what my statement had really been in response to. Nothing was coming to mind. Over the next weeks I would occasionally ponder what it could have possibly been. I knew it was in response to something Scott said to Amber, but I couldn’t remember what. Then one day, while driving, it hit me. My statement was in response to Dan or Nancy (I believe Dan) saying something like:
Dan or Nancy: “Scott was on the phone with Amber and he says to her, ‘I didn’t do it but I know who did and I’ll tell you later when I see you.’”
Nancy Grace then said: “That’s bad”
To which I responded: “That’s not bad when you look at the tips that are coming in and then you hear about a burglary happening across the street and – those are the things that were going through our family’s mind.”
Finally, I remembered! It turns out they DID edit my response and put it in an entirely different and incorrect context.
The next part of the search was finding the actual transcript of the phone call that was mentioned during the taping, since Grace vs. Abrams had not aired it. The call where Scott said to Amber, “I didn’t do it but I know who did and I’ll tell you later when I see you.” I had heard that phone call quoted for 15 years, but needed to make sure I got the wording right in the comments I was preparing. I searched the entirety of the trial transcripts for this phone conversation. Nothing. I kept trying various versions of the sentence. Nothing. Could it be this call was never played at trial and therefore not made public? I went on to search the over 43,000 pages of non-public prosecution case files we have and I was still unable to find any reference whatsoever to this conversation between Scott and Amber.
The truth is, I discovered that this call never occurred.
The truth is, Scott never told Amber "I know who did it'.
The breaking news of this alleged call was in a Ted Rowlands story that aired on May 26, 2003, about 5 weeks after Scott was arrested:
Authorities Have Peterson-Frey Phone Conversations
POSTED: 9:02 a.m. PDT May 26, 2003
MODESTO, Calif. -- Modesto investigators have recorded phone conversations between Scott Peterson and his former mistress Amber Frey including one in which he told her he knew the identity of his wife's abductor, sources have told Fox News.
Video: Ted Rowlands Monday Report - From Modesto
Reporter: According to a transcript of the call allegedly recorded by the Modesto Police and released by Fox, Frey confronted Peterson about his wife's disappearance and was told by Peterson that he had nothing to do with it.
Reporter reading Transcript:
Amber: "Do I need to be afraid of you?"
Scott: "Absolutely not, I'm not a monster."
Amber: "Did you have anything to do with your wife's disappearance?"
Scott: "No, but I know who did it and I'll tell you later when I see you."
The next day, the alleged conversation was printed in the New York Post and that same night on the May 27, 2003 episode of Larry King Live, this alleged conversation is talked about:
Larry King: Nancy, "The New York Post" reports today in a headline, "I know Laci's killer, Scott in shock call to his mistress." According to the story, Scott called Amber five or six times a night after she went public with their affair, and they reported the taped conversation -- "Do I need to be afraid of you?" "Absolutely not," et cetera. How do they know that?
Nancy Grace: Well, apparently, they've gotten to listen to some of the transcripts or some of the tapes. And very quickly, it was said here on the panel there's going to be a lot of boring listening. If there are tapes, conversations between Scott Peterson and Amber Frey, I can guarantee you it's not going to be boring.
Larry King: No, I said the boring would be with his lawyers.
Nancy Grace: With the lawyer. Now, you may be very right about that. But regarding this, I...
Larry King: But how do you know that that's fact?
Nancy Grace: ... it was quoted...
Larry King: How do you know -- I mean, "The New York Post"...
Nancy Grace: And it was also reported by several other news outlets. Apparently, there's a leak on one side or the other that is releasing this, either the transcript or the tape, which is very interesting...
Larry King: They're the one with this headline, "Bring in the monster." Right? OK. So they've been occasionally wrong. Do we know that that's a factual call? And is it going to be introduced in evidence? Do we know that?
Kimberly Guifoyle Newsom: Right. Well, we don't know that it's actually a fact. We're not going to know any facts. All of this is speculation until the case is presented, first and foremost, in a preliminary hearing or to a grand jury, but it looks like a preliminary hearing now...
While we are grateful for Larry’s skepticism, it wasn’t shared throughout the rest of the media. After these broadcasts, the alleged conversation was repeated by Nancy Grace, Geraldo Rivera, Rita Cosby, and various others. And it was repeated to me on Grace vs. Abrams 15 years later. In all the mentions of this alleged call, we never heard any audio played. There is only an alleged ‘transcript’ mentioned.
The truth is, I had heard this conversation referred to before and had no idea it had never happened. I had never looked into it because, despite media claims, there was nothing incriminating about it, as I explained in my answer to Nancy Grace.
The truth is, the truth requires searching. The truth requires work. I went looking for the truth about an incorrect edit on a television show this year and after hours of research, we found out that yet another ‘breaking news’ day in this case back in 2003 was never even news to begin with.
The truth is, after 15 years, there are still things I don’t know about this case. And what is also true is that every new thing I learn is always in Scott’s favor and brings us one step closer to justice for Laci, Conner and Scott.
The truth is, we will never stop fighting. We will never stop searching. We will never stop speaking the truth.