When a pregnant woman named Laci Peterson was reported missing on Christmas Eve 2002 in Modesto, Calif., it sent slow but steady shockwaves throughout the nation (keep in mind, this was before the days of Netflix’s buffet of true-crime series such as Making A Murderer). Per an ABC 7 News timeline, search parties turned into candlelight vigils as Laci’s family and friends clung on to hope that Laci and her baby boy (whom she had already named Conner) would return home alive and well.
The country was shaken to its core on January 24, 2003, when Amber Frey came forward to the press and said she had been dating Laci’s husband Scott Peterson in the weeks before Laci disappeared. She said she met Scott in November of 2002 (via CNN), adding, "Scott told me he was not married. We did have a romantic relationship." Frey then said she hoped Laci would be brought home safely and asked her friends, family, and the public to "respect [her] privacy." Sadly, we know none of those wishes would come true. The body of a fetus identified as Conner was found "near the Berkeley shoreline" on April 13, 2003, per ABC News. The outlet reported that "Laci’s decapitated body washed ashore nearby" the following day.
Frey would become one of the most notorious "other women" in the US and would benefit from her notoriety by releasing a book in 2005. We’re uncovering the truth about Scott Peterson’s ex, Amber Frey, from their first date to her undercover operations with police to her life now.
Amber Frey has a complicated family life
Amber Frey’s daughter Ayianna was a toddler when her mom’s personal life was exposed for public scrutiny. At the time, Frey thought her daughter’s father was ex-boyfriend Anthony Flores, but ABC News reported that a 2005 paternity test revealed Ayianna’s father was Christopher Funch, a restaurateur. "I feel foolish and I feel betrayed," Flores told The Modesto Bee at the time (via ABC News). "I otherwise feel I was being cheated on. She was very convincing when she told me I was the only person who could be the father."
Per ThoughtCo, Frey had a son named Justin Dean with her ex-boyfriend, chiropractor David Markovich in 2003. People reported she married police officer Robert Hernandez in 2006. Her attorney in the Scott Peterson case, Gloria Allred, told People at the time that the couple was "very happy" and that "they plan to live in the Fresno area." They divorced in 2008 (via ThoughtCo).
In a 2015 essay for Today, Frey said, "Home can be a little chaotic on any given week with school events, homework, dinner etc!" We can imagine, as she had a pre-teen son and a teenage daughter living with her at the time of the writing.
Amber Frey’s day spa failed
Amber Frey was a massage therapist before she became a public figure in 2003. Surprisingly, even after making the most of her notoriety by publishing a book — Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson — in 2005, she remained in the beauty and self-care business and became an entrepreneur when she opened a day spa in Fresno, California, in 2007 (via CBS News).
The outlet reported that Escape Day Spa was decorated to have a "Tuscan feel." As Frey explained at the time, "It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I went to massage school. It’s exciting setting goals and moving forward with them." Unfortunately, Escape Day Spa has since closed, though it’s unclear when.
Frey wrote in a 2015 essay for Today of the spa, "I ventured into opening my own business and had to pick up the pieces when it failed." Heavy reported that she is still a massage therapist as of 2020. If her Instagram account is any indication, she also loves to travel.
Amber Frey was afraid of Scott Peterson
A suddenly blonde-haired, goatee-sporting Scott Peterson was arrested for the murder of Laci Peterson on April 18, 2003, outside San Diego, California, per NBC News. Jon Buehler, an investigator on the case, told ABC News he suspected Scott was fleeing to Mexico. "San Diego was pretty darn close to the Mexican border," Buehler said. "Scott knew the area pretty well." Another investigator, Allen Brocchini, said Scott was driving erratically on the highway. "Either he’s going to kill somebody or one of these agents that are trying to follow him are going to get killed or kill somebody," he said.
The ABC News special Truth and Lies: The Murder Of Laci Peterson reveals photographs of what police found in Scott’s car. Law enforcement found, among other things, "camping supplies," thousands of dollars, "some ropes, some knives," and "a shovel and fishing poles." Per R Online (via InTouch), Scott also allegedly had a map of Amber Frey’s house.
We don’t know why he had it, but Frey told NBC News how she felt when she heard Scott was arrested. "I felt some sense of relief that I didn’t have to worry so much as far as where’s he at," she said. "Because there were several times that he was in Fresno and I didn’t know about it. And it was very uneasy, a very unsettling feeling for me."
Amber Frey hasn’t spoken to Laci Peterson’s family in a long time
Amber Frey had a relationship with Scott Peterson, but she has always resented being called a "mistress" or implications that she had an affair when she didn’t know Scott was married — something she explained to NBC News in 2005. According to the outlet, Frey said in her book, Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson, that after she made her statement to the press, she got a call from Laci Peterson’s mom Sharon Rocha. The women met the next day. "And I felt by Sharon and her family, and Laci’s friends a very welcoming sense. I mean, I know that sounds strange," Frey told NBC News. "But they were very thankful for what I was doing or what I had done or coming to the police department and cooperating with them."
The women didn’t continue to have a relationship. In 2007, Frey told ABC News, "I haven’t [spoken] with the family or had any type of connection … since my testimony." But Frey said she does feel a connection to Laci. "It could have been me," she told ABC News. "And just the hope and prayers that, you know, if, if the shoes were switched, that you know, Laci would do the same thing for me."
Inside Amber Frey’s romance with Scott Peterson
Scott Peterson was a very charming man. Amber Frey learned that on her first date with him when he treated her to "strawberries and champagne" before they dined at a Japanese restaurant, she said in her testimony during the Laci Peterson murder trial (via People). They also did karaoke and were "intimate" at the end of the night, Frey said under oath. "He was easygoing, easy to talk to," she said. "He made me feel comfortable." People reported on the day Frey gave that testimony that her lawyer Gloria Allred said, "She is a victim of Scott Peterson’s deception."
Per NBC News, Scott was even laying on the charm thick while she was cooperating with the police. He sent her on a romantic scavenger hunt on her birthday — February 10, 2003. That is also the day Laci was supposed to give birth to Conner. He gave her a "necklace made of amber" and the Nora Jones CD Come Away With Me. But Frey had other ideas. During the pair’s final phone call, she told him that she didn’t want to see him until there was "resolution" to his situation.
So, why did she make the choice to see him when police reportedly didn’t want her to? "Curiosity, I would say would be fair to say, yeah. I was curious," she told NBC News. That is quite a reason to potentially put yourself in danger.
How much money is Amber Frey worth?
Amber Frey came forward about her relationship with Scott Peterson to help get justice for Laci Peterson. But when the work of testifying was over, she did take advantage of her notoriety and write a book. Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson was released on January 4, 2005. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Frey is worth $400,000 thanks in large part to publishing the book.
But she’s also been in financial trouble that had nothing to do with the fact that her business, Escape Day Spa, failed. Author and artist Peter Reynosa sued Amber in 2011 for either $250,000 or renewed participation in writing another book and screenplay, as revealed by The Fresno Bee. As the outlet notes, "It is unclear whether the book was fiction or a memoir by Frey. But a document Reynosa claims is a contract said authorship would be listed as ‘Amber Frey as told to Peter Reynosa.’"
Of the suit, Amber’s father, Ron Frey, told The Fresno Bee, "They’re just trying to make some money. Amber really is a good person, she just steps in problems all the time."
Putting fear aside in the name of justice
Amber Frey coming forward about her relationship with Scott Peterson wasn’t just about adding another layer of scandal to a murder case. Her cooperation with the police was essential, and she would go on to be a key witness for the prosecution in Scott Peterson’s murder trial. She spoke to Oxygen about her decision to make the public statement at the Modesto Police Department. "It was bigger than me," she said of why she made the difficult choice. "So, because there was a missing pregnant woman, and I had been recording [conversations between Scott and me] this whole time, the right thing was to go to Modesto Police Department and give my statement." Of recording her phone calls with Peterson, she said, "I was asked but not forced."
Amber told ABC News that Scott called almost as soon as she had agreed to record her calls with him and was shown the equipment. "I was shaking tremendously. Sweating, just a mess … trying to catch my breath, and [the police] were in disbelief like, ‘I can’t believe this guy just called her.’" As the outlet explained, "The recorded calls continued for nearly two months."
Later, key parts of Frey’s testimony in court included statements such as: "He said he didn’t need a biological child, and he would raise my daughter as his own." (via People).
Amber Frey would testify against Scott Peterson again
Scott Peterson was sentenced to death for killing his wife Laci Peterson and their unborn son Conner in 2004. But The New York Times reported in 2020 that the California Supreme Court "overturned the death penalty" for Scott. According to court documents, the court upheld his murder conviction. "We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder," the document read, also noting, "But before the trial began, the trial court made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection." Those errors reportedly included dismissing jurors who were opposed to the death penalty. Persecutors are allowed a re-trial in the death penalty phase and have decided to move forward with that, per ABC News.
Amber Frey gave a statement about the death penalty reversal to Fox News via email. She said she was "relieved" that the court did not reverse Scott’s murder conviction. As for the death penalty re-trial, she said: "I think that in making the decision as to whether to seek it again, the District Attorney should consult with Laci’s family and honor that decision."
Frey has said she would testify again. "If there’s a point … that they need me to testify again, or whatever else, then I’d be available to do so," she told ABC News on 20/20 in 2017. "But I don’t spend my time worrying about things that aren’t really real right now."