Canada's Scott Peterson


Sean Hine last saw his girlfriend, Alicia Ross moments before Daniel Sylvester, Ross' next-door neighbour, beat her to death.

The couple spent the night together drinking wine and making love at her house on the night of Aug. 17, 2005 and Sean left at midnight because he had to work early the next morning. Ross walked Hine down the driveway to his car, and they embraced. Hine said the last time he saw her was in his rearview mirror as he drove off.

Moments later, neighbor, Daniel Sylvester brutally attacked Ross after the two "exchanged words" on the pathway between their houses. He dragged her body into his garage, cleaned up the blood, placed Ross into his car, took a shower and then dumped the body near Manilla, about 50 kilometres northeast of Markham.

Sean Hine loved Ross, who he had begun dating about eight weeks earlier, yet when she disappeared, everybody, except for his friends and those who knew him best, insisted that he had murdered Alicia Ross.

When Sean got home he called Alicia's cellphone and he got a really bad feeling when she did not respond. The police got a bad feeling too, they made him a "person of interest" which generally means a suspect.

Needless to say, Ross' distraught mother, Sharon Fortis, blamed Sean Hine when her daughter disappeared, and as far as she was concerned, he was the only plausible suspect.

Arthur Weinreb, Associate Editor of the Canada Free Press, wrote the following story regarding this tragic saga, on Thursday, September 29, 2005:

"On August 17, 25-year-old Alicia Ross disappeared from her family home north of Toronto. Her boyfriend, Sean Hine, had been the last person to see her when he left her house that evening and he called police after he could not reach Alicia at home or at work the next morning.

Ross, who had no history of taking off and who appeared happy at her job where she had just received a promotion, became big news in the Toronto and area media. From the outset, police were convinced that foul play was involved. Although the York Regional Police refused to refer to Hine as a suspect, he was constantly referred to as a person of interest immediately after the young woman went missing."

It was a natural response by both the media and the public to assume that Alicia Ross was a victim of a crime and that Hine, her boyfriend of two months, was responsible and for reasons that had nothing to do with reality, everybody acted like it was only a matter of time before Sean Hine would be arrested.

First there was the high profile case of Scott Peterson. Everyone watched Peterson organize searches after his pregnant wife, Laci, disappeared. Peterson was later arrested, convicted and is currently on death row in California.

Last July, with Laci and Scott Peterson fresh on their minds, Canadians watched Edmonton mechanic, Michael White tearfully plead for the safe return of his wife, Liana, whose abandoned vehicle was found but who seemingly disappeared without a trace. White helped organized a search for his missing wife and was with a group of searchers when her remains were discovered. Even prior to a cause of death being determined, Michael White was arrested and charged with second degree murder and committing an indignity to a dead body. He is currently awaiting trial in Alberta.

A little more than a month after Alicia Ross disappeared; when it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before Sean Hine joined Scott Peterson and Michael White in a prison cell, Daniel Sylvester, the 31-year-old next door neighbour of Ross and her family, went to a police station with his lawyer. Sylvester confessed to killing Ross and that evening police recovered the remains of the 25-year-old woman in two locations northeast of her home.

The day after Sylvester's arrest, writing in The Toronto Sun, Thane Burnett apologized to Hine for essentially ignoring those who said he couldn't have done it and believing that he was guilty of the murder of Alicia Ross.

The immediate apology to Hine for being obviously mistaken was a class act. Too often when the media does get it wrong, they simply go on as if nothing had happened. Burnett's apology was a refreshing change.

Even after Sylvester confessed, Seine Heine, who had been demonized beyond repair, was persona non grata, and the Canada Free Press grappled with the peculiar situation in the following terms:

"Fortis anger at Hine, to the point of refusing to allow him to attend her daughter s funeral seems to be irrational. Sean Hine was not only forced to deal with the grief that resulted when his girlfriend disappeared without a trace but also had to face the reality that, whether the police used the word or not, he was the prime suspect in a criminal act. Hine told the media that he feared not just being arrested but being wrongly convicted of a crime that he did not commit, a feeling that could hardly be described as exaggerated. Who knows what would have happened had the neighbour not confessed and the police were pressured to solve Alicia's disappearance. Hine can be excused for not acting in a way that Sharon Fortis and her family thought to be appropriate."

Like Sean Hine, Scott Peterson, the last known person to see the victim alive, was also not the murderer. He also acted appropriately, it was his critics who did not and they are ultimately responsible for prosecuting an innocent man and shielding the killer or killers.

Scott Peterson is still in jail because the people who believe in evidence that does not exist, demonized an innocent man.

The dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about is that serial killers or random acts of violence baffle the authorities all the time, and sometimes, when they fail to find the real connection between the victim and the killer, they make it up and inadvertently give cover to actual murderers,

Even in the worst serial killer investigations, the task force frequently generates the name of the killer within the first thirty days. It happened in the Bundy case: he was one of a massive list of people who were reported by citizens as owning the right kind of Volkswagon Beetle. Unfortunately, his name was buried under thousands of other possibles, and he went on to kill as many as fifty other people before he was finally caught.

Daniel Sylvester was not charged with second-degree murder until he turned himself in to police and voluntarily provided information which lead to the body of Alicia Ross. Mr. Sylvestor turned himself in to York Regional Police on September 20, 2005 and according to his lawyer, "My client voluntarily surrendered himself to police yesterday. At that time, there was no evidence whatsoever in which the police could arrest him, let alone support a conviction." Having disappeared on August 17, 2005, police searches and investigations had turned up no clues, but that did not stop everybody from pointing the finger at Sean Hine.

Daniel Sylvester's conscience finally got the better of him, but what if it hadn't? Needless to say, Sean Hine would have become another Scott Peterson or another Guy Paul Morin, another Canadian who was jailed and convicted despite being innocent. Fortunately, he was ultimately exonerated, but like Scott Peterson, there was no legitimate excuse for arresting him either.

Sean Hine was luckier than most. "I'm just happy I'm not wrongly convicted, the cops kept bugging me and bugging me," he said.

His father, Ken Hine said, "All that was written about him wasn't kind. I'm surprised at how one-sided the situation was."

Hine said he was in love with Ross. "The last thing he said to Alicia is, "I love you," and then, he was treated as if he had murdered her.

Sean's parents had never met Alicia Ross, nor had they spoken to her family, but things were getting serious and Sean was supposed to take Alicia to the family cottage the weekend after her disappearance to be introduced to his parents.

Like Scott Peterson, Sean Hine tried to cooperate with the police. He told them that he had dropped Alicia off in front of her house late at night and the next day, he saw evidence of a struggle in the backyard. Scott Peterson was equally forthcoming and if he wasn't ignored, the police would have exercised the opportunity to pursue the real killer or killers.

Given this culture of targeting innocent people without evidence, why weren't the tactics that were used to demonize Scott Peterson condemned the way they were in the Sean Hine case? Needless to say, the answer to that is clear -police failed to the Laci Peterson case enough to pursue credible leads, and that is the ultimate tragedy.

If you step outside the demonization process, Scott Peterson is and was a young man with great potential. "He was a tremendous kid and a tremendous golfer," recalled Dave Thoennes, who coached Peterson all four years in high school. "He was both popular and a leader." Peterson anchored teams that competed in regional and state tournaments, Thoennes said, reiterating he had nothing but good things to say about him.

Peterson was consistently in the top six golfers on the team, from his sophomore year on, and was a natural athlete who reveled in the sport, Thoennes said. "He was dedicated to his game. He was dedicated to his team."

Peterson was always on time to practice and never caused a problem, Thoennes said. Quite simply, the way Thoennes remembers him, Peterson was a Beaver Cleaver kind of kid. "He had a great personality. He was dependable. He was well disciplined."

Thoennes recalled Peterson as being quiet, yet confident, always ready with a smile and willing to answer the call as a mentor to others on the team. His leadership blossomed his sophomore year, after playing his freshman year alongside Phil Mickelson, now one of the top players on the PGA Tour.

"I feel badly for him," said Brian Argain, a friend of Scott and Laci Peterson's. "I can't even imagine being in Scott's shoes. Everybody has a theory on what happened to Laci, but nobody really knows. It's all very sad."

"We're all looking for the truth," Argain said. "I'm going to support Scott no matter what the rumors are. It doesn't affect my friendship with him. Just because he may have had an affair doesn't mean he has anything to do with her disappearance."

The truth is, the evidence indicates that Scott Peterson had as much to do with the disappearance of Laci as Sean Hine had to do with the disappearance of Alicia Ross. Like Sean Hine, Scott Peterson is the one who called the police, when the victim was missing, and like all the witnesses who confirmed the fact that Laci Peterson was walking her dog on December 24th, when Scott Peterson was fishing, Scott Peterson should have been a witness, not a murder suspect.

"When he was about 6 or 7 years old, we'd all go golfing together," his mother, Jacqueline Peterson said. "He would put his fishing pole in his bag because the course we often went to was on the San Diego River. By the second hole, he'd stop golfing and start fishing. We'd pass by him every so often, and he usually fished until we were done golfing."

Scott had no living grandparents so, while he was in high school, he befriended an elderly woman who had no grandchildren and visited her on Sundays after church.

Scott graduated from high school in 1990, briefly attended Arizona State University on a partial golf scholarship, but he moved back with his parents, who had bought a house in Morro Bay. He moved out about six months later, telling them that he was too old to be living at home and began working three jobs to put himself through Cuesta College and California Polytechnic State University.

While he was a waiter at Pacific Cafe, Scott met Laci Rocha, an upbeat young woman with a beautiful smile. Laci's neighbor worked at the cafe, and Laci ended up there from time to time, where she engaged brief conversations with Scott as she ordered coffee. One day, Laci wrote her phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to her neighbor to give to Scott. Thinking his friend was playing a mean trick on him, Scott crumpled the paper and threw it in the garbage, and had to be convinced that it was no joke, to retrieve the number from the trash.

After graduation, the Scott and Laci opened a popular eatery called The Shack, a place near the Cal Poly campus where students came for hamburgers and sandwiches. The business quickly became a success and the young couple sold it two years later after deciding to move to Modesto to start a family and be closer to Laci's parents.

After years of trying, Laci became pregnant, and that's how she disappeared. She was so excited when she found out that she began calling family and friends at 7 a.m. after taking a pregnancy test. As the holiday season progressed, the Petersons held several parties at their home, and guests could not help noticing that the house no longer resembled the place that the Petersons had purchased.

"Scott remodeled the entire house, doing woodwork, tile, plumbing, a little bit of everything," said Guy Miligi, a friend of the Petersons'. "I know he put a lot of hours into making that baby room just right. He was real excited about having his first child. He talked about that all the time."

On Dec. 23, Laci and her mother spoke by telephone at about 8:30 p.m., Scott told police he last saw his wife the next morning as he left for a fishing trip out of the Berkeley Marina, and was unable to find her when he returned home that evening. Paranoia and extreme suspicion lead to the development of the theory that an affair with a massage therapist had turned Scott Peterson into a vicious, cold blooded murderer, a mere delusion that was not supported by a single shred of evidence.

If Scott Peterson was a vicious, cold blooded murderer who had something to hide, he would have murdered massage therapist, Amber Frey, in effort to cover his tracks -and that's a far better theory than making things up for the purpose of demonizing an innocent man.

In the meantime, somebody got away with a vicious, cold blooded murder; and that is absolutely disgusting and inexcusable. 04-14-2009

UPDATE: I began to write about the bizarre disappearance of Laci as soon it was reported and wrote extensively because it is very clear to anybody who investigates this widely publicized case closely, that the police never had any reason to arrest Scott Peterson, if the rule of law means anything at all. Looking back, everything I wrote has withstood the test of time because it has all been confirmed by a career prosecutor with extensive knowledge on the case. That was personally satisfying, but Matt Dalton, who published the book "Presumed Guilty", shared his expertise with the world in 2005. So why is Scott Peterson still in prison?

It makes absolutely no sense at all. Unfortunately, I found and read his book as late as September 18, 2023 and am quite shocked I never discovered it prior to then because I would have loved to read it and the fact that I was not even aware of it strongly suggests the book did not receive the publicity it deserved.

Consequently, if you want to better understand the simple fact that Scott Peterson is the last person who belongs in prison for allegedly killing Laci, please read "Presumed Guilty". I am frankly shocked this travesty of justice is still an issue, but then again, it is all evidently understandable and Andrew Carnegie essentially explained the reason behind that when he wrote, "When dealing with people remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity."

Sad, tragic and absolutely shameful...please advocate to exonerate yet another innocent man because it is otherwise very, very unsettling...thank you for giving yet another lone voice in the midst of a harmful, inappropriately conformist environment, the opportunity to share principled insight and intelligence.

Next: History exposes everything.


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