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Peterson Defense Says Brown Van May Support Satanic Cult Theory

Aired June 4, 2003 - 19:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: A California judge is deciding whether or not to reveal the contents of secret reports in the Laci Peterson murder case.
Now the decision is expected by next week and a lot of it has to do with leaks and rumors hitting the media. But you've heard them all, I'm sure. As well as the defense suggestion that Peterson was killed by a satanic cult.

David Mattingly has been covering the case, joins us now from Modesto -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, for weeks now we've been hearing from the defense team for Scott Peterson that theory that they floated that Laci Peterson was abducted and murdered by a satanic cult.

Turns out that theory dates back to a report made to Modesto police in December, on December 28, four days after Laci disappeared.

CNN has obtained the document revealing how a sexual assault counselor told police that a woman claimed she had been raped by two men and two women in a brown van. As part of this rape, the woman told the counselor a satanic ritual was conducted. And the group said something about a Christmas Day death, and that she would read about it in the paper."

This allegedly happened about a week and a half prior to Laci's disappearance.

Police checked it out. They actually found a brown van parked near the reservoir near here and two couples associated with that van. They investigated everyone involved and determined that no one there or the van was involved with Laci's disappearance or her death.

And this was in part, we're told, because the woman who came forward and claimed that there had been a rape appeared to have mental problems and that her claims proved to be unreliable. This, according to the counselor who brought the story to police.

I spoke to that counselor today and she tells me that, based on what she knows about this part of the investigation, she's now 100 percent certain that police have made the right decision. That these people and this van and this alleged rape had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance. Now, we have some video to show you right now. These are pictures of a state crime lab north of here. This is where authorities say they're now holding the brown van. They won't show us any pictures of it, but the D.A. continues to state that the people associated with the van have been cleared of any involvement in this case, and they've been checked out twice now.

But the van is still very important to the Scott Peterson defense team as a piece of evidence. A source on the defense team tells me today that they are more certain than ever of their theory because of things they have found as they have examined the van. They claim to have found duct tape and other tape inside the van, as well as stains inside the van that they say could be blood stains. They also claim to have found a satanic image sketched in the glass of the van. There has been no confirmation, however, from Stanislaus County authorities here of those findings -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dave Mattingly, thanks very much, from Modesto tonight.

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