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10 years after murder, Lori Hacking's mother forgives, but 'will never get over it'

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 6:50 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, July 18 2014 8:29 p.m. MDT

Thelma Soares, mother of Lori Hacking, shows photos and reads a poem about Lori in her home in Orem, Friday, July 11, 2014.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

OREM — Ten years ago Saturday — on July 19, 2004 — Lori Kay Soares Hacking, was reported missing by her husband after he said she left her house to go for a run in Salt Lake City's Memory Grove.

What unfolded over the next 2 ½ months was an unbelievable story of deception, a double life, and an intense search at the Salt Lake County Landfill that received international attention and would become one of Salt Lake City's highest-profile murders.

Mark Hacking eventually confessed to killing his wife and was ultimately sentenced to prison.

Lori Hacking's mother, Thelma Soares, has well been aware that the 10-year anniversary of the day that forever changed the lives of two families was approaching.

"In a way, it seems like it's been forever. Because the last time I saw her was on the Fourth of July. She and Mark came by, we had dinner here, and we went to Stadium of Fire," she told the Deseret News from her Orem home. "Then, in a way, it just seems like it was the other day. I can't imagine how 10 years have gone by.

"People say, 'You need to do this, you need to do that. You need to get over it.' I wanted to slap them. Because you never get over it. I'm not over it now. I will never get over it. What you get over is the immediacy of it. You get over the shock and the disbelief and all of that panic — that desperation you feel when you can't find your child. You get over that as time passes. But you never get over the loss."

Because of the pain she still feels when she recalls those days, Soares stopped granting interviews for the national news and talk shows long ago and has declined most invitations to be a featured speaker at various functions. Although she kept a busy schedule of speaking engagements and interviews after her daughter's death, she said she no longer has the strength to do it.

"I have talked at so many places. … I've been to so many places, and I can't do that anymore. I cannot relive all the details over and over and over. Then it brings all that back that I felt at the time. And I don't want to bring that back. I can't live with that. I can live with how I feel now," she said as she fought back tears.

"It's still so hard to go back and talk about those days. They were awful. They were horrible."

How she feels now is at peace. Even though Soares will never condone what her son-in-law did, she said she has forgiven him.

"It doesn't make anything that he did right," she said. "If you do not forgive something so horrendous like that, it destroys you. You curl up and die inside. That's what it would be like. If someone stuck a pin in me, poison would pour out."

Today, the two exchange letters. The most recent from Hacking arrived in Soares' mailbox just a few weeks ago.

The case

Mark and Lori Hacking were on the verge of moving to North Carolina. Mark Hacking had just graduated from the University of Utah with honors and had been accepted to a North Carolina medical school — or so people thought.

The couple had been married five years and were ready to begin the next phase of their lives. Lori had resigned from her job at Wells Fargo in preparation for the move to Chapel Hill. The couple had a lot of their possessions boxed up and ready to go. Lori had also just recently told family members that she was five weeks pregnant.

On the morning of July 19, 2004, Mark Hacking bought a new mattress for his bedroom. Shortly after that, he called 911 to report that his wife had gone jogging and hadn't returned home. The case came on the heels of the Elizabeth Smart investigation, and immediately an intensive search was launched.

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