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Subject: Dennis Rocha, Father of murder victim Laci Peterson

Dead at 72
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Date Posted: Sunday, December 16, 12:33:06pm

Laci Peterson’s father, Dennis Rocha, died Sunday at age 72.

People who followed the investigation of the young California woman’s disappearance remember Rocha in an emotional state when his pregnant 27-year-old daughter went missing at Christmastime 2002, weeping and pleading for her safe return.

The remains of mother and child — a boy who was to be named Connor — washed ashore in San Francisco Bay nearly four months later. Laci’s husband, Scott Peterson, was convicted of double murder in 2004.
“Laci loved her dad, and now they will be together again,” said her mother, Sharon Rocha, in an email Monday. She continues to go by that name even though they divorced four decades ago, when Laci was 2.

Laci’s “other father,” Ron Grantski — Sharon Rocha’s longtime companion — died this year at age 71. Dennis Rocha had remained on good terms with the couple and privately praised Grantski at his graveside service in April.
Dennis Robert Rocha had moved with his family when he was very young from Gilroy to Escalon, in California’s Central Valley, and he remained there for the rest of his life.

He operated a dairy for several decades and was also a member of the US Marine Corps Reserves, said his oldest child, Brent Rocha, in a telephone interview Monday. His father had a passion for rodeo events — particularly team roping and calf roping — and participated in annual Mule Days celebrations in Bishop, Brent said.

“He was a good dad and a hard worker,” his daughter Amy Woodard — Laci’s half-sister — said Monday.

Growing up, Brent and Laci lived with their mother and Grantski in Modesto and spent many weekends at their father’s ranch in Escalon.

Observers of the Peterson case may recall that Laci’s family was appalled when Scott traded in his missing wife’s 1996 forest-green Land Rover as part of a purchase of a used pickup six weeks after she disappeared.

Dennis Rocha bought it from Roberts Auto Sales on Modesto’s McHenry Avenue for $1 only days later. “(Scott) would keep the car if he knew she was coming home,” Dennis Rocha told the Modesto Bee at the time.

Rocha assumed a lower profile during Scott Peterson’s blockbuster trial, which was moved to Redwood City to escape pervasive publicity in Modesto. He cried when graphic photos of the remains were displayed for jurors, and drew a warning from the judge when using salty language toward the defendant in the penalty phase, just before Scott Peterson was sentenced to death.

He is survived by his children Brent and Amy and six grandchildren, as well as a sister, Robin Rocha, and stepson Nathan Hazard. A memorial service is set for Friday.


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