When Scott Peterson became the prime suspect in the death of his pregnant wife Laci and their unborn son Conor, many people asked the same question: “Why didn’t Scott just get a divorce? Why did he have to kill Laci?”
The answer, according to some experts, is that — along with having narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies — Peterson is a “Mama’s boy.”
“He looks like a man on the outside, but he is still a boy on the inside. Mommy always took care of everything, and he never developed discipline or character. This is one of the most dangerous archetypes in our society,” Mark Fuhrman, the former LAPD detective calls whose racial slurs emerged on the stand during the O.J. Simpson trial, wrote in The Murder Business: How the Media Turns Crime Into Entertainment and Subverts Justice.
According to Fuhrman, Scott’s all-American good looks, smile, and charm were just a mask.
“These guys never, ever admit wrong-doing, no matter what. They’re spoiled and self-centered. When a Mama’s boy does something wrong, he just hides it under the bed. He breaks a glass as a kid — he hides it.”
On the whole, psychologists believe that a man having a good relationship with his mother is a positive thing. But problems start, experts say, when mothers clean up their childrens’ messes — even as adults — and send the message that they are the center of the universe and that they do not have to deal with negative consequences.
Family and friends say that Scott had a very close relationship with his parents Jackie and Lee Peterson. Both Lee and Jackie brought three children each to the new family when they married, and by their accounts Scott grew up in a happy, well-off Brady Bunch–style home. Lee told People that “He didn’t have to walk until he was about two, because everybody was carrying him around.”
This pattern continued through Scott’s adolescence. He was popular at San Diego High School, where he was a star golfer and model student. After graduation, Scott spent a semester at Arizona State University before returning home to attend Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
In 1994, he transferred to nearby California Polytechnic State University — which is where he met Laci Rocha. The young couple moved in together and opened a burger business, which they eventually sold and moved to Modesto.
Scott took a job as a fertilizer salesman; Laci became a teacher. To the outside world, Scott and Laci appeared to be a happy, and very much in love. But trouble was brewing behind the scenes. According to some of Scott’s family members, he had several affairs. But Scott’s mother said that Laci was aware of his infidelities — and forgave him.
Anne Bird, Scott’s half-sister who was adopted by another couple as a child and reunited with the Petersons in 1997, told Oprah Winfrey that Scott’s mother adored him — perhaps to a fault. “It seemed to come down to this golden child image of [Scott’s], Jackie kind of putting him up on a pedestal,” she said. “Laci wasn’t good enough. There was no one good enough for Scott.”
According to Fuhrman, many Mama’s boys grow up to believe that they are the only one who matters. So in Peterson’s case, many believe that his desire to maintain the “perfect son and husband” facade turned deadly for Laci when he became enraged after a fight — perhaps after she confronted him with evidence of his affair with Amber Frey.
San Diego forensic psychologist Reid Meloy also pointed out that divorces are long and tedious, and sociopaths want short-term solutions. He told the Associated Press:
“Criminal psychologists say that Peterson appeared to be a master manipulator who lacked the capacity to feel remorse or consider consequences — the same sociopathic characteristics exhibited by serial killers Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.“
Jackie Peterson continued to believe in her son’s innocence until her death in 2013 of cancer. She was 70.
Scott continues to insist that he did not kill Laci which, according to Fuhrman, is no surprise. He wrote: “A Mama’s boy will never, ever confess.”
To learn more about this case, watch Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Scott Peterson in 2011 [Wikimedia Commons]