Reservoirs, mine shafts search sites



Maps cover Modesto Police Sgt. Ron Cloward's desk. They are spread out on a large table in his office, not only showing streets and highways, but detailing the old mines in Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.

"There are 1,300 mines in Calaveras alone," Cloward said, his voice giving away the frustration he feels after searching fruitlessly for a missing pregnant Modesto woman who vanished Christmas Eve.

Laci Peterson, 27, could be in any one of those mines.

She could be at the bottom of a lake, in an old barn or in the ocean, Cloward said.

"We have received 2,121 calls so far about Laci, and we are following up on them, but we don't know where she is," Cloward said late Tuesday afternoon. "We are geared up for the worst that she met with foul play and she is probably not going to be found alive but we have to keep focusing on finding Laci."

Laci Peterson was eight and a half months pregnant when she disappeared. Her husband, Scott, told investigators he last saw his wife about 9:30 a.m., right before he left to go fishing at the Berkeley Marina.

When he returned home about 6:30 that night, his wife was gone. He called 911. Ever since, investigators have been trying to corroborate his story to clear him as a suspect.

The woman's disappearance has drawn nationwide attention.

Cloward, who is heading the search effort, said his officers searched Stanislaus County and exhausted leads there. Now the hunt has branched to neighboring counties.

"We have been using dogs, and if they take us anywhere we will follow up on leads," Cloward said.

He refused to comment on whether a cadaver dog alerted searchers to something in Tulloch Reservoir, but that is where divers have been searching since Sunday. The three-day effort concluded about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

All that was found were a camera lens and "a bunch of padlocks," one diver said. Another diver suffered a burst eardrum in the search, Cloward said.

The Union Democrat
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