Ready to Wear
Misleading headline of the day

Salt Lake Tribune: Hopes dim for happy ending

Lori Hacking's family 'strong and united' despite fears of the worst

Article last updated: 07/28/2004 11:01:36 AM
Eight days after Lori Hacking was reported missing, her family is holding out hope.

But they also understand this harsh reality: Long-missing women do not often come back alive.

No one knows that better than police detectives, which explains why their actions have more closely resembled an investigation of a homicide, rather than an abduction, as was the general assumption when Hacking first disappeared.

Among the clues suggesting police are intent on finding a body and solving a murder:
  • Police support the family's decision to limit searches of the area in which Mark Hacking, the primary "person of interest" in the case, claims his wife went missing on July 19.
  • The only place police are searching, with cadaver dogs, is a Salt Lake County landfill.
  • The homicide squad is leading the investigation and has not requested the assistance of the FBI, which usually aids in abduction cases.
  • A judge has signed a secret subpoena and approved a search warrant in the case.
  • A knife gathered during the investigation has been sent to the crime lab for analysis.
"It is Day Eight. We know what that means," family spokesman Scott Dunaway said. "We know what the statistics are about that."

The dogs returned to the landfill late Tuesday in an effort to finish searching a quadrant where police believe they may find evidence.

Detective Dwayne Baird said the search was prompted by a credible tip received last week. He said police were not actively looking in any other area of the valley, but continued to comb through a "couple hundred leads."

Investigators and cadaver dogs already have been over the area once, several days after Lori Hacking's disappearance. By that time, the landfill plot already had been covered by approximately 15 feet of topsoil.

In spotlights set up to aid the effort, a backhoe could be seen moving rubbish and dirt. Though numerous officers were at the scene, Baird downplayed the significance of the lead.

"We have to look at everything we get," he said. "We can't ignore these things." Homicide Detective Kelly Kent, the lead investigator, said her team includes more than 10 other detectives, some outside of the homicide squad. Homicide detectives don't normally handle missing persons cases, but Baird said depending on the evidence, such cases may be assigned to different units.

Among the evidence police are evaluating is Mark Hacking's claims that he was searching City Creek Canyon for his wife, while he was actually buying a mattress at a South Salt Lake furniture store. Police on July 19 asked permission to remove a mattress from a Dumpster behind a church near the Hackings' apartment.

Police are also are investigating Mark Hacking's lies involving his past and future educational pursuits, a series of deceptions his wife may have discovered three days before she disappeared, according to co-workers.

Mark Hacking said his wife, who was five weeks pregnant, went for a jog in the canyon about 5:15 a.m. on July 19. Her car was later discovered at the entrance to the canyon, but police now say they have no evidence she was ever there on that morning.

Salt Lake City investigators have turned down offers of help from the FBI, West Valley City and the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, and have even limited information about the case provided to officers involved in the search.

In other developments Tuesday:
  • The family placed the search on hold, worried that remaining search areas are too rugged and treacherous for people on foot.
  • The family will place a link on their Web site ( where those with all-terrain vehicles, planes and other possible search equipment can volunteer to help in what they are calling "the next phase of the search efforts."
  • Police asked the public to stop reporting found mattresses, saying they already had what they needed.
  • The family will dismantle the search center today and have not scheduled any future news conferences. Dunaway said the family will hold news conferences only when they have new information to impart.
  • Relatives emptied the Hackings' apartment, allowing new residents to move in. The Hackings' possessions will be kept in storage.
Dunaway characterized the family as strong and united, a statement further evidenced by the actions of Hareld Soares and Janet Hacking, who were holding hands during Tuesday's news conference.

"This is an amazingly courageous family," Dunaway said. "I am confident they will be able to endure any trial they have to."