Don Pedro the focus of search for Laci Peterson

February 16, 2003 11:00 pm

By ABBY SOUZA

More than 130 people showed up to help look for missing Modesto woman Laci Peterson at the Fleming Meadows recreation area at Lake Don Pedro on Saturday morning.

Though no sign of the missing 27-year-old woman — who was due to give birth Feb. 10 — turned up, searchers are not giving up and will be in Calaveras County next weekend to continue hunting for Laci Peterson.

Saturday's volunteer effort included 25 to 30 private boats, said Brent Rocha, Peterson's older brother. He headed the search, along with several volunteers from Modesto.

Kathy Swigert and her husband, Dennis Dodenhoff, of Woodland brought their fishing boat to Don Pedro to help out. Now, seven weeks after Laci Peterson disappeared on Christmas Eve, the couple are on their second round of searches.

But this is the first with their boat.

"We have two daughters, and we hope people would help us in this situation," Swigert said.

Although they had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to make it to the morning sign-up, they said the trip was worth it.

"I think it's a wonderful way to help someone in so much pain," Swigert said.

Peterson was eight and a half months pregnant when she vanished. Her husband, Scott, told police he last saw Laci about 9:30 a.m., before he went fishing at the Berkeley Marina. He said Laci was gone when he returned home at 6:30 p.m. Investigators have not labeled him a suspect, but have not ruled him out, either.

Since Laci Peterson's disappearance, family members and friends have been holding searches, posting fliers and trying to gain as much support as possible to help find out what happened.

They've used every means available, from search-and-rescue divers to infrared cameras, and have even called out the dogs.

Lucy, an English Setter, and Dolly, a Maltese/pomeranian mix — Swigert and Dodenhoff's dogs — came to Saturday's search, as did Sonora couple Ken and Jeanne La Barge's hound mix, Charlie.