"It is difficult to talk about our son, Mark Hacking, without sounding like we are making excuses for his involvement in the senseless and tragic death of our daughter-in-law Lori on the night of July 18, 2004. We are doing so to clear up some misconceptions about this case and to provide a clearer understanding of what occurred and why.
"As has already been reported by the media, in 1996 Mark was sent home from an LDS mission for failing to live up to the high standards expected from the missionaries called to represent the church. He was also having some health problems and returned ashamed and in spiritual, emotional, and physical pain.
"Within a few weeks, Mark suffered a series of additional health problems that resulted in three surgeries. The most serious of these issues was a concussion, seizure and broken back from falling off the roof of a house. Following months of incapacitating back pain, Mark tried to go back to college but found it almost impossible to sit in class for long due to the pain and resulting inability to concentrate. His ability to sit improved over the years, but his inability to concentrate or learn continued to hinder him.
"Although we were unaware of Mark's learning disability, we have recently come to know how agonizing it was for him to fail one class after another to the point that he could no longer attend college. These failures were terribly hard on his self-esteem and created constant anxiety for him. Rather than admit to himself and others that he could not succeed in college, he began to create the illusion that he was going to school and doing well. He pretended to graduate from the University of Utah and carried his deception to the point of actually visiting several medical schools to 'interview.' We now know that he lied about graduating from college and applying to medical schools. Mark told everyone that he had been accepted to four schools and deliberated which to attend. Last summer, Mark and Lori traveled to North Carolina to look for a place to live and signed a rental agreement. They then quit their jobs in Utah and packed to move.
"Mark sensed that the house of cards he had been building for years was beginning to sway, and he became even more anxious. Lori found out that he had never applied to any medical schools, and Mark finally admitted everything to her on the night of July 18, 2004. As you can imagine, Lori was deeply hurt.
"To clear up some misconceptions about Mark's confession, it was reported Mark's brothers, Lance and Scott, were the ones who told authorities Mark had killed Lori. The reality is that on July 24, Lance confronted Mark with the evidence police had gathered and urged him to reveal where Lori's body was. He and Scott met with Mark that evening, at which time Mark confessed everything to them. His attorney was notified and instructed, by Mark, to provide information regarding Lori's whereabouts to the district attorney, an act which took place the following day. From that point on, it was never a matter of whether Mark would plead guilty but when he would do it based on the processes of the legal system. Mark resolved in August that he would never let his case be tried and informed his attorney of that decision.
"As for Mark's character, until this chain of events, he had never been in trouble with the law nor did he ever develop bad habits such as the use of illegal drugs. Mark always had good friends. He has always been an obedient, hard working, and thoughtful individual who treated us with respect.
"More than anything, we know that Mark loved Lori. We never heard them argue. We never heard him say a negative word about her. When they were not working, they were inseparable.
"Mark suffers continually for his choices. Anyone who could have shared in our conversations with him or read his letters and life history would know the depth of his sorrow and remorse for having taken the life of the one person he cherished most and for having caused pain to so many others especially Lori's family. Mark was close to Thelma and has expressed particular concern for her suffering in almost every letter and conversation we have had with him.
"We are not sure any of us will ever understand why Mark did what he did, nor are we sure he will ever fully understand it either. What we are sure about is that he is willing to pay any price for what he has done. He has a desire to continue to serve others but realizes his opportunities to do so in prison will be limited. As a family, we hope that someday he can be released from prison so that he can be in a better position to contribute to the lives of others. As for when Mark should be released, we will leave that up to the parole board as they consider how he conducts his life while incarcerated. And for the eternal consequences of his actions we will leave that to the savior, who will judge him with perfect justice but also perfect mercy, having a full knowledge of the state of his mind at the time he ended Lori's life.
"Our family continues to feel deep sorrow and regret for Thelma, Eraldo, Paul, and Lori's other family members and friends for the emptiness that has filled their lives since losing Lori. As parents, we wish we could have prevented this tragic event. We also loved her and will continue to miss her presence in our lives as well.
"Although we abhor what Mark did, we are proud of him for taking responsibility for his actions and for his desire to repent. As hard as it may seem to believe, we love him more now than before.
"We wish to express a final thanks to our own family, friends, neighbors, and community members that have extended unconditional, Christ-like love to our family during this devastating time. Thank you also to Mr. Gil Athay for his help and professionalism in providing services to Mark.
"We are grateful that the media has respected our wishes for privacy over the past year. This will be our final statement to the press, as we request that we be permitted to move on with our lives.
"Finally, in the hope that someone else might learn from Mark's mistakes, permit us to quote Mark:
"'I know prison is where I need to be. I will spend my time there doing all I can to right the many wrongs I have done, though I realize complete atonement is impossible in this life. I have a lot of healing and changing to do, but I hope that some day I can become the man Lori always thought I was.
"'To the many people I have hurt, I am more sorry than you could ever know. Every day my soul burns in torment when I think of what you must be going through. I wish I could take away your pain. I wish I could take back all the lies I have told and replace them with the truth. I wish I could put Lori back into your arms. My pain is deserved; yours is not. From the bottom of my heart, I beg for your forgiveness.
"'There is no such thing as a harmless lie no matter how small it is. You may think a lie only hurts the liar, but this is far from the truth. If you are traveling a path of lies, please stop now and face the consequences. Whatever those consequences, they will be better than the pain you are causing yourself and others.'"