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Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse fields questions Monday. Police believe Lori Hacking's body is at the Salt Lake landfill.

Mark Hacking, who was the prime suspect from the day his wife, Lori, disappeared, was arrested Monday for investigation of aggravated murder.

Almost from the beginning, the evidence "strongly indicated Lori was the victim of a homicide and Mark was the individual responsible. We focused on him the very first day," said Salt Lake Police Chief Rick Dinse, in a press conference at police headquarters Monday.

A July 19 preliminary police report, obtained by the Deseret Morning News, backs up the chief's statement.

Officers, according to the report, went to the apartment to maintain security just hours after Lori was reported missing.

Just as one officer arrived, he noticed Mark Hacking walking out "holding two cell phones, a small tin container, a blue cloth and a lighter," according to the police report.

The officer asked Mark to stay with him until detectives arrived. While they were waiting, one of Mark's brothers showed up.

"Mark's brother approached the apartment and asked Mark what was happening. Mark said, 'Apparently they're nervous that I bought a new mattress.' Mark then said, 'I just need to get away,' " according to the police report.

The report also outlined how investigators were finding holes in Mark Hacking's story very early in the investigation.

At 9 p.m. July 19, one of Mark's relatives told police that Lori never ran alone and that 5 a.m. was "an unusual time for Lori to be running," the police report states.

"This statement was contrary to the initial information I received (from Mark Hacking)," the officer stated in the police report.

Douglas Hacking, Mark's father, told police that he had received a phone call about 10 a.m. on July 19 from Mark, who said he was worried that Lori had not returned from her morning jog.

"He told Douglas that he woke up" and noticed "her clothes she laid out to wear for the day were still there and her lunch was still in the fridge. So he drove to Memory Grove and found Lori's car. He searched around but didn't find her," according to the police report.

Earlier in the day, however, Mark Hacking had told another officer that after he woke up and noticed his wife wasn't home, "he just assumed his wife had come home and decided to let him sleep and drove herself to work."

Investigators later learned that Hacking was actually in the process of trying to buy a mattress about 10 a.m. from two different stores. He didn't leave the parking lot of Bradley Sleep Etc. 2255 S. 300 West, until 10:30 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.

The police report also detailed some of the evidence seized on July 19. That evidence included papers, two T-shirts that said "Big Rock" and "West Seattle Acid Party," a hat, orange twine, pillow, pillow cases, bedding packages, men's athletic shoes size 11, a blue and white plaid shirt and a pair of men's denim jeans.

Neither police nor the families commented on the report. "I haven't seen the report. I have no response whatsoever," said police spokesman Dwayne Baird.

Hacking was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail at 11:46 a.m. Monday. He was under suicide watch Monday, Dinse said. The jail's probable cause statement is very short, saying only that the arrest was made based on information provided by a confidential informant.

The body of Lori Hacking had not been recovered as of Monday. But Dinse said investigators with cadaver dogs would return Wednesday to the Salt Lake landfill, 6030 W. California Ave. (1400 South).

"We have information that leads us to believe that's where she is," Dinse said.

Dinse said detectives had collected "substantial" and "sufficient" evidence from several places, including the Hackings' apartment, where Dinse said he believed the slaying occurred. Other sources of evidence, Dinse said, included witnesses, Lori's car and a Dumpster seized from the parking lot of an LDS meetinghouse about a block away from the apartment.

Lori Hacking's mother, Thelma Soares, issued a written statement and appeared at a brief 5 p.m. news conference at Orem City Hall. Soares laced her fingers and held her hands close to her chest as if in prayer and dabbed tears from her eyes with a tissue as the statement was read.

"My family and I are profoundly anguished to lose Lori, our precious daughter and sister. Our lives will never again be the same, and we will grieve for her and miss her until the day we die," read Scott Dunaway, a family friend who has served as a spokesman for the families. "But when that day finally arrives, we know with absolute certainty that she will be there with open arms to greet us, and our reunion as a family will be glorious. Until then, we know where she is and who watches over her."

The Hacking family was silent about Mark's arrest and did not appear at the press conference.

Their absence doesn't necessarily reflect a rift in the unity the Hacking and Soares families have exhibited over the past two weeks in which they repeatedly stated their mutual love for Lori and Mark.

Thelma Soares seemed to reinforce that bond in her Monday statement, stating that both families had suffered a great deal.

"To the wonderful Hacking family who has shared this double tragedy with us: May Heavenly Father strengthen you in the difficult days ahead," she wrote. "You know of our love for you."

Lori Hacking was reported missing July 19. Her husband said she went jogging that morning in Memory Grove and City Creek Canyon but never returned home. Her car was later found parked in front of the gate to Memory Grove.

But almost from the beginning questions were raised about Mark Hacking and his alleged time line. It was learned that Hacking dropped out of college in 2002 even though he told his family he had graduated. He also told them he had been accepted to medical school in North Carolina even though he never applied.

On the day Lori disappeared, Mark went to two different stores to buy a mattress but told police he was searching City Creek Canyon for Lori and jogged the three-mile trail twice looking for her.

Police later said they believed Lori never went jogging that day.

Hacking had been in the University of Utah psychiatric ward since the early morning hours of July 20 when he was found running naked and creating a disturbance in front of the Chase Suite Hotel, 765 E. 400 South.

Dinse said with the pending release of Hacking from the hospital Monday his investigators made the decision to arrest him. Detectives actually had enough evidence to arrest him sooner, Dinse said, but with Hacking in the hospital it gave detectives more time to collect evidence.

Hacking's attorney, D. Gilbert Athay, was made aware of the pending arrest before Mark was picked up by officers, Dinse said. Athay had no comment Monday.

Police remained tight-lipped Monday regarding details in the case and what type of evidence was collected, including the alleged murder weapon.

"We do believe we know the weapon that was used" was all Dinse would say.

The Deseret Morning News first reported that a knife with blood and hair samples was seized as evidence from the apartment.

Dinse also did not openly speculate Monday about a possible motive for the killing, saying only that "we believe we understand the motive."

He also added that Hacking had not made any type of confession.

Neither Lori's nor Mark's families attended Monday's police news conference. Dinse said the families had known for a while the direction the investigation was taking and were notified earlier Monday of the arrest.

"They were devastated. Both sides of the family," Dinse said.

Although Lori's body has not been recovered, Dinse said he was "confident we have a good case here."

"We believe this case is strong enough that we could prosecute without (a body)," Dinse said.

The fact Lori was five weeks pregnant did not play a factor in deciding to arrest Hacking for aggravated murder, Dinse said. He did not say, however, what any aggravating circumstances were.

Dinse gave high praise to his homicide detectives, whom he said have worked on the case with little sleep for two weeks and have had the "terrible job" of sorting through nearly 3,000 tons of trash at the landfill. They want to find Lori's body not only for their own case but so her family can have proper closure.

"The thought that her last resting place is a landfill is not a pleasant thought," he said. "The thought that she might have to stay there is something else we don't like to think about."

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson Monday also praised the work done by Salt Lake City police.

"There are a lot of officers who have put in a tremendous amount of hours and time on this challenging case," he said. The police have been "absolutely committed to bringing the person responsible for Lori's disappearance to justice."


Contributing: Leigh Dethman; E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]