Friday, April 3, 2015

Near Perfect - The Scott Peterson Story

Work in Progress, Please Pardon the Dust

NOTE: This article assumes that the court was correct when it convicted Scott Peterson and seeks answers as to why, Scott, the purported perfect son, would commit such heinous acts. In order to present a balanced view, the author give links to counter positions at the bottom of the page.

"He woke up smiling and went to bed smiling," -Lee Peterson on his son, Scott's, attitude towards life

In order to help readers keep names straight, here is a Peterson Family Tree.

Most information published on Scott Peterson traces back to this seminal article on the case:

SF Gate - A PORTRAIT OF THE ACCUSED / In a rare interview, the family of Scott Peterson sheds light on the life and times of the 'perfect' son

December 20, 1945 at a little after 9pm, John H. Latham, Scott's maternal grandfather is struck on the skull with a pipe and murdered in the salvage yard, tire shop, he owned in downtown San Diego at 2190 Main Street, San Diego, CA. The married father of four young children was murdered for approximately $200 by 28 year old former employee, Robert Sewell


Jackie, Scott's mother, was 2 and 1/2 at the time of the murder, the third of four children.

Sometime soon after the murder of her husband, Leeta Helen Hixon-Latham, John Latham's wife, places their children including Scott's mother in the Nazareth House children's home including Scott Peterson's mother, Jackie.

Nazareth House


Nazareth House separated Jackie from her brothers John, James Patrick and Robert.This means that at a very young age Jackie not only loses her father to murder but is abandoned by her mother and is torn from her other siblings.

The home has had allegation of abuse logged against it: Bishop Accountability Org - Institutions. It has been alleged that girls suffered more abuse particularly sexual abuse than boys at Nazareth House. Jackie has never alleged such abuse but does mention that nuns at Nazareth House initially severely restricted visits from her mother.

At age 13, Jackie returns home from Nazareth House to take care of her ailing mother at 4584 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA.

On January 17, 1962, Jackie's mother, Helen dies at age 55 shortly after Jackie graduates from high school.

Shortly after her mother's death, Jackie began seeking solace from men:

On April 2, 1963, Jackie gave birth to a son, Don. The father abandoned Jackie and she gave her son up for adoption.
On July 8, 1965, Jackie gave birth to a daughter, Anne. The father was already seeing another woman at the time of the birth so Jackie gave Anne up for adoption too.
In 1966, Jackie gave birth to a second son and was again abandoned by the father.Her pediatrician advised Jackie to quit placing child after child up for adoption and keep her second son, John.

Jackie buys dress shop, The Put On, in La Jolla, California. It is reported that Jackie often brought her kids to work where their needs were sublimated to the needs to the business

Jackie raises John as a single mother until she meets and marries Lee Peterson who later adopts John.

Lee Peterson was divorced father of three when he met and married Jackie. Lee had grown up extremely poor. He worked for a trucking company and later started up his own successful packing and delivery business in San Diego.

Lee has been characterized as someone who tried to bury childhood memories of poverty behind a facade of fancy cars and expensive houses that came hand in hand with corresponding financial difficulties. He has also been characterized by close relatives as someone who is deeply private, is not comfortable around children or emotions and who does not truly know himself. It has been speculated that he separated from his first wife due to difficulties dealing with his three children.

Scott Peterson was born on October 24, 1972 at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. Scott was born by cesarean section and contracted pneumonia shortly after birth. He had to be separated from his mother and placed in an oxygen chamber to survive.

Around 1976, by the age of four, the family bought a home in Scripps Ranch, a nicer San Diego suburb and, Scott's father, Lee, started taking him along to work at his new packing and delivery business. Scott's step dad also made some effort to include him in his hobbies of golf, fishing and pheasant hunting.Lee believed that if the kids learned how to do what he liked to do that they would naturally spend more time together.

Scott's brother, John is disowned by the family and sent away to live with relatives out of state when he gets into some trouble in high school

1995 Scott Peterson tells friend Miguel Espidia how he could get rid of a body if he killed somebody. He said that he would tie a bag around the neck with duct tape, put weights on the hands, throw it in the sea and the fish activity would eventually eat -- the body would float up, the fish activity would eat away from the head and the hands and the body would float up, no fingers, no feet, so there could be no identification.

Psychological Assessment

The below assessment is pure layman's speculation on my part although a bit of it is based on the assessment of Scott Peterson made by Keith Ablow, M.D., in his fascinating book, Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson.

Lee and Jackie Peterson - The Perfect Storm

Abandonment Issues

Jackie, Scott's mom probably had abandonment issues related to:
  • Father's murder when she was an infant.
  • Mother's Placement of her in a children's home at a young age.
  • Separation from siblings at a children's home.
  • Minimal visitation rights at a children's home.
  • Her mother died at young age of 55 when Jackie still lived at home.
  • Abandoned by the fathers of three of her children at a young age
Emotionally Absent Mother
Jackie was also likely an emotionally absent mother. Here is a good interview Interview with Jasmin Cori author of the Emotionally Absent Mother where she covers this topic. In her option, an emotionally absent mother is:

An emotionally absent mother is not fully present and especially not to the emotional life of the child. She may be depressed, stretched too thin and exhausted, or perhaps a bit numb. Many of these mothers were severely under mothered themselves and have no idea what a close parent-child relationship looks like. They are doing the outer things they think a mother should do, but have no clue how very big the job of mothering is.

In these homes typically children are forced to grow up fast:

These homes were not what might be called “child-centered.” In fact to the extent these mothers were supportive, it was for children outgrowing their early needs and become more like adults.

...but there is a hole left in the hearts of children raised in such homes:

It’s interesting how often it is actually felt as a hole in your heart, “the hole where mommy was supposed to be.” It also leaves holes in your sense of self (related to which ingredients were missing), and a hole in your inner mother, your ability to nurture and support yourself. So when mother is missing, there’s a lot missing.

Narcissistic Mothers --> Golden Children and Black Sheep
Jackie has also been accused of habitual lying, as one who often makes up a personal history and is hostile to anyone who contradicts this narrative with facts. She was also know to objectify her family and son and often referred to her family as the Brady Bunch and son as the Golden Child.

Other issues to note:
  • Had to care for extremely sick mother all through high school.
  • Gave first two children up for adoption at a young age and in quick succession.
Lee Peterson
Father lost family money in failed business.
Father subsequently spent life repairing typewriters for a living.
Mother worked in menial jobs to help support the family.
Extreme poverty in childhood.
Uncomfortable around children.
Divorced from first wife whom he had three childr
en with.
Uncomfortable with emotions
Not introspective
Frequent Money issues due to gaudy displays of wealth.

Jackie a young single mom likely had severe abandonment issues when she finally met up with Lee Peterson. Before meeting Jackie, Lee had recently divorced his wife with whom he had had four children because he reported was all about appearance, uncomfortable with displays of emotion and being around children. 

Faced with such circumstances, Jackie was probably desperate to keep Lee and Scott Peterson, her son, suffered as a result. Would a woman like Jackie place a child's emotional needs high on her priority list or would she seek to mold a child who would not cause issues between her and Lee? Scott must have felt extreme pressure to conform to whatever ideal Lee demanded of a child since his own mom had already given up two of her children when faced with men issues. Although Scott did not know about his mom giving up her previous children for adoption, Jackie must have at least given off a certain vibe in this regard.

Scott Peterson - Near Perfect

Golden Child Syndrome

Scott's family history points to the fact that he was treated as the "Golden Child." At a surface level, many people assume that the golden child lives a perfect existence but the reality is quite different as the below Reditt post shows:

Sub Reditt - Raised by Narcissistic Parents, The nightmare of being "the golden child.:

I was the Golden Child, as my sister said. I had the best relationship with my father. My mother bought me beautiful clothes, had my hair professionally done, let me wear make-up at age 13. I was given the best room, the biggest bed, the nicest food. My mom took me to the gym and told me I was beautiful.
All the while my sister was Harry Fucking Potter, living in the converted pantry, being ignored. She told me I made her sick and she wanted me to die. It wasn't until this year, when my grandmother finally scolded her, that she learned the truth.
My mother spoke highly of me, but the bar was above where I could ever reach

Here is another good take on the subject from the Out of the Fog site:

Out of the Fog - What happens to the golden child?

Some websites say the "golden child" has it better than the "scapegoat"... but i dont think so. I found this and it kind of scared me...

"Empathy is a learned behavior. When parents have empathy, they teach it to their kids without even realizing it – it seems to “come naturally” because it was learned so young, while the brain was still forming (between eighteen months and four years).

But if the parent doesn’t have empathy, they can’t teach it to the child. And because they don’t see the child as equally human to themselves, these parents may abuse their children in the physical ways we can easily recognize as abuse. But they have another option, a sneakier one: they can manipulatively groom the child to be incredibly vain and selfish for the parents’ own purpose, which is usually extension of the parent’s ego via the child. Through the child, they seek to experience accomplishments, to punish enemies, etc. The child’s identity isn’t allowed to form as it would with an empathetic parent: the child is simply pushed to see himself as a super star, to achieve power by trampling others, to be a “success” who “takes what he wants” and “won’t take no for an answer” because these are the parents’ fantasies of grandeur.

Children groomed in this manner have been deprived of personal identity and the chance ever to connect with another human being in the meaningful way (empathy) that makes us different from the reptiles. Despite any appearance of personal success and happiness, they will never experience the feelings of intimacy, bonding and love that most of us take for granted. Because they lack empathy, they lack conscience, and therefore compassion. The basis of this disorder is believed to be incredible shame – such shame that the child buried it early on and constructed a false “self”, a sort of second personality that believes itself godlike and expects to be worshiped accordingly. But deep down, it always feels inadequate, and lives in terror of someone else seeing that inadequacy.

This is what the empathy-free parent wanted. This is a person who will hurt others and sleep like a baby afterwards. This is the parent’s monster to turn loose on society, in whose triumphs the empathy-free parent will delight. And the parent will expect everyone to admire the child.

Deliberately, if unconsciously, warping a child’s personality so he cannot possibly learn to love, care or share is definitely a form of abuse. This is never an act of ignorance: the parent may not understand what he is doing, precisely, but he is always doing it for himself, without genuine concern for the child’s well-being. Don’t confuse this careful grooming with parenting styles that perhaps go overboard on encouraging high self-esteem or lavishing a child with material things: those upbringings may result in arrogant adults or adults with above-average entitlement."

Reactive Detachment Disorder
Scott Peterson most likely suffered some form of separation anxiety if not reactive detachment early in life.

Counter Arguments

Linda Smith refutation of Dr. Keith Ablow: Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson

1 comment:

Alexis R. said...

I don't know if you'll read this so long after your post, but I believe the disorder you referenced is more correctly known as "Reactive Attachment Disorder."