10 years after murder, Lori Hacking's mother forgives, but 'will never get over it'
"That first day, it was international. I mean, people get killed all the time. I'm not sure why this case became such a high-profile case so soon. It was that same afternoon that the international press started calling. And this is before Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that," Soares recalled.
Several hours later, about 2 a.m. on July 20, police were called to a disturbance at the Chase Suite Hotel, 765 E. 400 South, about a half-mile from the Hackings' apartment. Police found Hacking running around naked except for a pair of shoes. His family checked him in to the psychiatric unit at University Hospital.
Over the next several days, Salt Lake police uncovered a string of lies that shocked not only the Soares and Hacking families but the nation because of the complex stories Mark Hacking told to cover up his deceptions. Some called it an elaborate double life. Hacking never graduated from the University of Utah and was never admitted to a college in North Carolina, even though his mother-in-law had helped him with fake term papers and he stored textbooks in her garage.
On July 24, Hacking was confronted by his father and brothers and eventually admitted that he had killed his wife and dumped her body in a trash bin. What followed was weeks of searches under the hot summer sun at the Salt Lake County Landfill before Lori's badly decomposed body was found Oct. 1.
Mark Hacking was sentenced to a term of six years to life in prison, which fit the appropriate sentencing guidelines at the time. But there was a public outcry because many believed the minimum six years didn't seem like enough time.
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole held a quick hearing for Hacking and told him he wouldn't even get another consideration for parole until 2035. Utah lawmakers subsequently changed the sentencing guideline for aggravated murder to 15 years to life. The change is commonly referred to as Lori's Law.
Throughout Soares' home today, there are pictures of Lori Hacking from every stage of her life hanging on the walls.
Lori's bedroom is now an office and guest bedroom. In the room, there is a shadow box framed with the clothes Lori was wearing on the day she and her brother were adopted by the Soares family.
In the hallway are all of Lori's school yearbook pictures, from grade school to her time at Orem High. Soares said she can tell the year based on her daughter's hair, which fluctuated between long and curly to very short.
Also hanging on the walls are photos from a professional studio that Mark and Lori had taken to give to their families for Christmas.
In the weeks immediately following the murder, an Orem company offered to digitally erase Mark from every photo at no cost. Lori's father even had her married name "Hacking" removed from her headstone.
Letters from prison
But today, Soares said she doesn't feel the anger as she once did. She now exchanges letters with her son-in-law and shared part of his most recent letter with the Deseret News.
"I hope your health as well as your peace and happiness continue to improve. I think of you often, but I never know what to write. Everything seems inadequate or inoculate, at least with my limited vocabulary. I remember your kindness and acceptance from the time I first met you," he wrote. "I remember the love you showed even when I didn't deserve it. I remember your fear when I told everyone Lori was missing, the anger and despair in your letters and on the day I was sentenced. I remember your forgiveness and kindness when I did not, and never will, deserve them."
Hacking goes on to talk about news reports of other recent crimes he has watched with a myriad of emotions.
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