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“The right thing to do”

A Salt Lake Tribune article for which I failed to grab the link; it’s since disappeared into their paid-access archive.

“The right thing to do”
Family says Mark Hacking is willing to help investigators even if his life is at stake

He told his family he killed his wife.

Now his family says Mark Hacking is ready to accept the consequences.

In a telephone conversation from jail Wednesday night, Hacking reportedly talked to his father about his willingness to help investigators, despite its possible effect on his upcoming court case.

“He is determined to do what is right,” Douglas Hacking told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday. “He started the process when he let the word out to where Lori was and he is determined to continue to do what is right—even if it costs him his life.”

Prosecutors could file capital-murder charges in the case if they can prove an aggravating circumstance, such as Lori Hacking’s reported pregnancy. They now have more time to make that determination, after 3rd District Judge Anthony Quinn granted an extension Thursday following a request from the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors, who say they have not had enough time to review the evidence, were given until 5 p.m. Monday to file charges against Mark Hacking, or he could be released.

United by grief and a desire to uncover the truth about Lori’s disappearance, the Hacking and Soares families have formed an unusually stable bond. When Mark’s credibility came into question early in the search for Lori, the families were side by side at nearly every public appearance.

As information mounted about Mark Hacking’s actions on July 19, the morning Lori vanished, her father, Hareld Soares, revealed that he doubted his son-in-law’s story. Even then, Soares told him that his love would not diminish.

“I told him, ‘I have compassion and love for you,’“ Soares said at the time.

And Douglas Hacking called Lori’s mother, Thelma Soares, shortly after learning of his son’s confession to family members July 24.

“We have been upfront with them every step of the way. They have known everything we have known,” said Douglas Hacking, a pediatrician from Orem, adding that he spent part of Tuesday night at Thelma Soares’ home. “We are still grieving about Lori together.”

“She was our daughter, too. I have her picture right in front of my desk,” he said. “I just weep for her. I just feel so sorry for what happened.”

Mark Hacking’s brother, Scott, called the tragedy “a double loss.”

Scott and another brother, Lance, heard Mark Hacking’s confession during an 11 p.m. meeting on July 24 at University Hospital’s psychiatric ward.

During that meeting, Mark admitted that he killed Lori while she slept in their apartment and later threw her body into a nearby Dumpster.

The decision to tell police about the confession was excruciating for Scott and for his father, who watched his son wrestle with the choice.

“I don’t know if I have ever seen anybody experience that much anguish before,” Douglas Hacking said. “On the one hand, he felt like he might be betraying his brother and compromising his chances in the court. On the other hand, he felt that he may have some information that the police didn’t have.”

Initially, Scott and Lance Hacking informed their parents only that Mark had told them where Lori’s body had been placed. Douglas Hacking and his wife, Janet, drove Scott to the police station the following night so he could inform police.

“We as a family have decided from the outset that our motto was to do what was right and we have tried to do what was right the whole time,” Douglas said. “When it was all over, [Scott] said ‘I have never felt so bad and so good at the same time.’“

He said his sons’ decision to report on their brother was the right choice. Scott, in turn, credited his parents with providing the moral guidance that made the decision possible. “My parents are amazing parents. They’ve raised us with the foundation of Mormonism and that has gotten us to this point,” he said. “If Mark has done something outside of these principles, it’s certainly not because of any lack of guidance from his parents. He’s turned away from these principles.”

Now, Scott said, he wants to bring his brother back into the fold.

Douglas Hacking said that process started when Mark decided to confess, though he was pressured by Scott and Lance earlier in the day.

“One of the things that I think helped Mark make that decision was when he saw how many volunteers were out searching for her,” he said. “But I think the primary thing was that he came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was pass that information on to authorities.”

The family allowed the search to continue for a few days following the reported confession because they were concerned about the “reliability of Mark’s information,” Douglas Hacking said.

“He had lied before and he lied straight to me,” Douglas said, referring to an earlier conversation when he asked Mark if he had anything to do with Lori’s disappearance.

The family also expected police to call off the search on July 25, but 1,800 volunteers arrived.

The family eventually decided to call off the searches themselves, saying they would limit the search to all-terrain vehicles, horses and airplanes in rugged area. Those searches never materialized.

One question the family can’t answer is why Mark committed the alleged murder.

“We have talked about it and talked about it, and speculated. Five minutes ago we talked about it again,” Douglas Hacking said Thursday morning. “The only thing I can come up with is that he just snapped.”

Scott Hacking said he plans to seek no further information about the alleged murder from his brother, per instructions from Mark’s defense attorney, Gilbert Athay.

While he was writing his jailed son a letter, Douglas Hacking received a phone call from Mark late Wednesday. They had a 15-minute conversation that focused primarily on the conditions in the mental health unit, where Mark Hacking is on suicide watch, but also touched on his decision to assist investigators.

On Monday, Hacking sat in his cell naked with only a blanket. The next day he received a jumpsuit and on Wednesday his jailers gave him a pair of underwear.

Officials at the jail say those are the three stages suicidal inmates are placed in depending on a daily consultation with a psychiatrist. It also shows that Mark Hacking’s emotional state is settling.

Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom declined comment on the news that Mark Hacking may cooperate with prosecutors, other than to say, “That’s interesting.”

Athay on Thursday did not return a phone call requesting comment.

He will have to wait until police finish compiling the case against Hacking to hear what charges prosecutors will levy.

Thursday’s court motion by prosecutors to extend the deadline for filing charges states that Salt Lake City detectives “just returned” from Texas, where they were interviewing a witness—most likely Lance Hacking, who lives in Austin.

Police also are “in the process of compiling transcripts of witness interviews, and are awaiting test results from the crime lab,” states the motion.

Without the extension, prosecutors would have been forced to file charges by the end of business Thursday or release Hacking, who was booked into jail Aug. 2.

Mark Hacking is being held on a $500,000 cash-only bail.

Detectives, meanwhile, searched the Salt Lake County landfill for a sixth night Thursday, looking for Lori Hacking’s body. A backhoe being used in the effort was so deep into the 18-feet-tall pile of trash that it was barely visible from the road that runs alongside the dump.

The search of the 2-acre area may take weeks, but detectives say they are hopeful of finding her remains with the assistance of Duchesne County’s cadaver dogs.