It's been just shy of one month since I made any new entries about the Lori Hacking case. Included below are two stories from today's Salt Lake Tribune with the latest developments: Thelma Soares' appearance on Oprah Winfrey's talk show; and changes to methods used for searching the Salt Lake County landfill for Lori's remains.
Lori Hacking's mother says Mark Hacking should get a stiff prison sentence—maybe even a life sentence—if found guilty of killing her daughter.
On an appearance on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" that aired Tuesday, Thelma Soares said: "I don't think life without parole would be too much."
Mark Hacking has been charged with killing Lori in her sleep July 19. Police say he threw her body in the trash, which was taken to the Salt Lake County Landfill.
When Mark first reported Lori missing, Soares never suspected that he could have been involved. That changed after police told her Mark Hacking never graduated from the University of Utah and had not been accepted to medical school in North Carolina as he had told his family and friends.
"That was probably the biggest shock I have ever received in my life," Soares told Winfrey. "We have lived that lie with him for so long."
Soares talked to Hacking the next day in the U. psychiatric ward, where he had
been admitted for running around naked in a hotel parking lot. She said he put his arms on her shoulders and said, "I promise, I promise you I had nothing to do with this."
"I desperately wanted to believe him," Soares said on the TV show. "But way down inside, I said, 'You are lying again.' "
Soares promised not to let the court proceedings bother her, even if they do not turn out the way she would like. "I know that when he meets the real judge he will get what is coming to him."
Mark Hacking is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 23.
No timetable: Volunteers join S.L. police in the grim chore that could take months
Armed with pitchfork-style rakes, 38 police officers and firefighters combed through more than 3,000 tons of trash Tuesday in hopes of recovering Lori Hacking's remains.
Volunteers from various police agencies, wearing masks and other protective gear, searched through garbage at the Salt Lake landfill for the remains of Lori Hacking. (Paul Fraughton/The Salt Lake Tribune)While acknowledging that this new phase of the search could take months, the volunteers were confident they would be able to bring some closure to Lori Hacking's family.
"If she is in here, you know what, we will find her," said Keith Bevan, a member of the Urban Search and Rescue crew.
The hand search follows about 25 days of searches with cadaver dogs from Duchesne County, which failed to find Lori Hacking's body or the gun Salt Lake City police say her husband, Mark Hacking, used to kill her.
With cooler weather allowing officers to search in the daylight, the new effort will be more exact, said police Detective Dwayne Baird.
Mark Hacking is charged with murdering his wife in her sleep and throwing her body into a trash bin July 19. Salt Lake County Landfill employees have cordoned off the garbage collected that day.
The dogs searched in a 40-foot deep pit the size of two football fields, while the new search involves spreading out 100 tons of trash at a time no more than 2 feet deep in a marked-out area.
The 38 volunteers, from such agencies as the University of Utah Police Department and the Unified Fire Authority, stood side by side picking at the plastic bags, rolls of carpet and cardboard boxes as they slowly made their way across the trash field. They wore steel-plated boots, coveralls, thick leather gloves and protective eyewear, and some wore masks over their noses and mouths.
They volunteered when Salt Lake City police asked for help. They are getting paid by their respective agencies. Police held a three-hour training session early Tuesday that covered safety and evidence collection. The public safety officials were also offered hepatitis and tetanus shots.
Salt Lake City Sgt. J.R. Nelson leaned against a rake on the side of the line and periodically looked at potential evidence, such as hair, that volunteers found. But when volunteers put down their rakes at 5 p.m., they had found nothing of consequence. The search was expected to restart at 7 a.m. today and will take place four days a week for about 10 hours a day.
Salt Lake City detectives consulted with other police agencies throughout the country about landfill searches, picking up on techniques that were successful elsewhere.
But Capt. Roger Winkler said the other agencies provided little when it came to a timetable.
"We don't have a clue how long it will take," Winkler said.
Multiple public safety officials said they volunteered out of sympathy for Lori Hacking's family.
"If it was my sister or my daughter, I wouldn't want it to be known that her grave is the city landfill," Nelson said.
Volunteers from various police agencies, wearing masks and other protective gear, searched through garbage at the Salt Lake landfill for the remains of Lori HackingLori's mother, Thelma Soares, who appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show on Tuesday, said she understands the difficulty police face.
"We know the chances of recovering her body are very slim," she said.
But she holds out hope. She bought a headstone as a place where family and friends can go to remember Lori.
Bevan and his wife, Jen, who is also a county firefighter, have followed the Hacking case since Lori's husband first reported her missing.
And when the search turned to the landfill, they contacted police offering their help.
Bevan was one of the search and rescue personnel who traveled to Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"There is a great deal similar there," he said. "They are both just an absolute mess."
Five members of the Urban Search and Rescue team conducted a quick visual examination of the garbage, identifying medical waste and other dangerous areas for the line of searchers methodically approaching.
"We don't know what state her body would be in," said West Jordan officer James Kangas. "Digging through this stuff is not the grandest job, but it will be worth it if we can find her."