When Laci Peterson disappeared on Christmas Eve two years ago, the country was riveted: Who was responsible? Laci was eight months pregnant, and her husband, Scott, seemed completely devoted to her. But a month later, a woman named Amber Frey came forward to reveal that she'd been involved with Scott. The case broke wide open and after that day, Frey's life would never be the same. She details the ordeal in a new book, "Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson.” Now, in the first part of an NBC News exclusive interview, “Today” host Matt Lauer talks with Frey about her romance with Scott Peterson.
Matt Lauer: Did you just hold a lot in? I mean, have you had to hold a lot inside over these last two years?
Amber Frey: To some degree, yes.
For two years she's been silent. Amber Frey — the "other woman" in the Scott Peterson case and the star witness at Peterson’s murder trial — tells the truth about her relationship with Scott Peterson.
At times, she says, she was terrified and at other times, she was angry.
Frey: Scott Peterson was a pathological liar to me — nothing he said was the truth.
But when she first met him, she was charmed. It was a blind date on Nov. 20, 2002.
Frey: He opened the door. I thought he was handsome. He had a nice smile. I stood up. I said, "Scott?" He says, "Amber?" He kind of gave me a little peck on the cheek.
Amber’s best friend had set them up — when Scott was passing through Fresno on business.
Frey: He said, “I had some butterflies before I came here.” He almost seemed a little more nervous than I did.
Lauer: You know, sometimes when someone says something like that it can seem a little bit like a line?
Frey: No, it came across very genuine to me.
Lauer: It didn't sound like he was some kind of a smooth operator type guy?
Frey: No, I didn't sense that from him at all, no.
They went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Scott arranged for a private room, just the two of them. The conversation and the wine flowed freely.
Lauer: Did you talk about his relationships that he had had?
Frey: We really didn't talk a whole lot about relationships. I believe I asked if he had ever been married, and he said no.
Scott told her he traveled for business so much that he never settled down: no wife, no girlfriend, not even a dog.
Frey: He said he lived in Sacramento, that he also had a condo in San Diego, and he had found a couple that wanted to purchase the condo [and his] Land Rover. So, I thought, “Wow. That’s a pretty good deal.”
Amber had no way to know it, but almost none of that was true. Scott Peterson wasn't single. He didn't live in Sacramento. He didn't own a condo in San Diego. Only one detail was factual and it would later seem chilling. The Land Rover he said he wanted to sell did exist. It belonged to his wife, Laci.
Lauer: So, at this point in the date, a scale of 1 to 10, how was it going?
Frey: I felt like it was going really well. So if I had to put a number on it, I mean, it was maybe a 10.
Lauer: You were having a good time?
Frey: I was having a good time. [The] conversation was good [and] he was very much a gentleman.
When the restaurant closed, they went to a bar. They slow danced until closing time. Then they drove back to Scott’s hotel.
Lauer: It's been well reported that you spent the night.
Lauer: You don't think, maybe I’ll never hear from him again?
Frey: I had a good feeling, and a sense that I would hear from him again. That it wasn't just going to be a one-night stand.
Amber did see Scott again, several times over the next three weeks. He was funny and gracious; he all but swept her off her feet. She started to wonder if she'd found the perfect guy — until Scott came to her on Dec. 9 and revealed that he'd been married.
Lauer: He basically said at that time in that conversation, “You know, I haven't been completely honest with you … I lost my wife.” Did you ask him how he lost his wife?
Frey: I didn't feel it was appropriate to pry on how because he was so emotional. It was almost like putting salt on a wound. He's sitting, you know, right in front of me and we're holding hands and he's like, "You're not angry?" And I said, "No. How could I be angry?" I could understand.
But Amber had suspicions which only mounted when Scott told her he was leaving on a long trip. His stories of where he was going, and when, didn't seem to add up.
Lauer: You thought this guy might be lying to you again? That something wasn't as it seemed?
A friend of hers on the Fresno police force offered to check Scott out. He called back at 1:40 a.m. on Dec. 29 and told her that he believed her boyfriend, Scott Peterson, was the same Scott Peterson who'd been in the news the last few days: a man who was still married, whose wife was pregnant and went missing on Christmas Eve. Amber called the Modesto police.
Frey: I felt like I was going 100 miles per hour, just talking to this woman and she's taking my statement down, writing it.
Amber Frey was about to find herself in the middle of the biggest murder case in the country.