Poker Night
Lori Hacking update: Sun 08/01/04 midday

Deseret Morning News: Search now 'unnecessary,' say families of Lori Hacking

Mark Hacking told his family something important Saturday—and whatever it is, it apparently makes any further volunteer searches for his missing 27-year-old wife unnecessary.

That news came late Saturday, not from Salt Lake City police but by way of a statement faxed to the Deseret Morning News and other media by Mark and Lori Hackings' families.

"The families understand that Mark Hacking has provided information that makes it unnecessary for individuals or groups to continue the volunteer search," the statement reads. "At this time, the families ask that all efforts from volunteers cease and that anyone with information that they feel might be helpful contact the Salt Lake City Police Department directly."

Salt Lake City police were to meet with family members late Saturday, and the family was expected to share with investigators details of their conversation with Mark Hacking, detective Phil Eslinger said.

"To my knowledge we are going to work through the night with the family to determine what that information is," Eslinger said. "All I know is that it was a legitimate fax from the family. This is not another one of those cruel jokes or rumors."

Police are expected to hold a news conference sometime today.

No further statements are likely from the Hacking or Soares families in the near future. Their statement included a plea that their privacy be respected in what was described in the families' statement as "this difficult time" and indicated they plan to make no further statements about the case.

Contacted at his home Saturday night, attorney D. Gilbert Athay, who has been hired to represent Mark Hacking, said he had no comment.

Lori Hacking disappeared July 19, allegedly while jogging in Memory Grove just before 6 a.m. Volunteers' search efforts in the park and nearby canyons, which over a week drew more than 4,000 people, were unsuccessful.

Police now say they believe Lori, who had just learned she was five-weeks pregnant, was never in the park.

Mark Hacking has been hospitalized since the day after he reported his wife missing. He has also been named a "person of interest" in the case by police but as of Saturday had never officially been called a suspect.

However, investigators took numerous pieces of evidence from the couple's apartment at 127 S. Lincoln St. (945 East), including box springs and computers. Also among the evidence being evaluated by forensic experts is a knife said to have blood and hair samples.

Before Lori Hacking disappeared, the couple was supposedly moving to Chapel Hill, N.C., where Mark was to attend medical school. But three days into the case, it was learned that Mark Hacking had lied about his acceptance to medical school, as well as his recent graduation from the University of Utah.

Over the past two weeks, more and more information has trickled out indicating that Mark may have been lying to his friends and family for as long as 18 months about his present and future life.

The details and the time line of events Hacking shared with police also quickly crumbled. Mark Hacking said on July 19 that he had learned Lori had failed to arrive at work about 10 a.m., but a mattress store clerk said Mark was shopping for a mattress at the time. A credit card receipt showed he had indeed purchased one, just 26 minutes before he called police at 10:49 a.m.

Until Saturday, it appeared that Mark had also maintained he knew nothing about his wife's disappearance. In a conversation with his father, Douglas Hacking, Mark said he had lied about his life because he felt pressure to be successful like his father and siblings. But he said he didn't know what had happened to his wife.

"He looked me in the eye and said, 'No,' " Douglas Hacking said when recounting his conversation with his son to reporters July 23. No one is certain what Lori Hacking knew of her husband's deception or when she knew it. However, co-workers at Wells Fargo Bank have said that the Friday before she disappeared, Lori received an upsetting phone call and left in tears.

Police have focused most of their search efforts on the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Facility, sifting through piles of refuse on four separate occasions with investigators and four cadaver dogs. That search was temporarily suspended on Friday, with police saying the dogs needed a day or two of rest.

So far, the only comment from police about the landfill searches has been that "nothing of consequence" had yet been found.

Landfill searches are expected to resume, but police have not been specific about when.

The task of finding what is presumably Lori Hacking's body in the landfill could be seen as nearly impossible. More than 2,500 tons of refuse is deposited there daily by more than 600 dump trucks. Police have focused their efforts on a one- to two-acre segment of the facility.

Police apparently believed the landfill held significant clues as to Lori Hacking's whereabouts as early as one day after she went missing. Landfill executive director Romney Stewart told the Deseret Morning News last week that police asked him on July 20 to suspend dumping in a certain area so that it could be searched.