WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
On July 19, 2004, Lori Hacking was reported missing by her seemingly loving husband, Mark. The search garnered national media attention as the community searched for the missing 27-year-old woman.
However, later, her husband would confess to the crime. Lori was not missing at all, she had been murdered in her sleep by her husband, her body dumped to feign disappearance.
BACKGROUND AND "DISAPPEARANCE" (2)
Lori and Mark were high school sweethearts. They were deeply in love. Lori's family would look at the 2 lovebirds and wonder how they not only got so lucky to have such a wonderful man in their daughter's life, but also, in their lives, as Mark had become like a son to them. Lori was adopted by her parents after her biological parents divorced in 1987, and the family moved to Orem, Utah.
Lori and Mark met at Orem High School near Salt Lake City, and they fell in love the very first time they met in 1994.
They had been together for nearly a decade, married for half of that time, when they found out they were expecting a child. Everyone was overjoyed, looking forward to Lori bringing a little bundle of joy into the world. They were planning to relocate to North Carolina where Mark had enrolled in medical school to become a doctor.
Lori's mom recalled thinking that having a baby and being the only one working while Mark was in school would be hard for Lori, but that the couple would make it through.
On the night of July 19, 2004, Mark frantically called 911 saying his wife had gone for her evening jog but did not come home. It was common for her to go on a jog before her workout, but when she didn't show up for the workout, he became worried. He called her friends and coworkers to no avail. Her car was found at the entrance of the park, but his pregnant wife was nowhere to be found.
Authorities and friends alike believed she had been abducted, as they knew she would not just run away with so many exciting things coming her way.
BUT THINGS SEEMED A LITTLE BIT... OFF
While search parties scoured the area and Mark was going on TV, crying, distraught, asking for everyone to help look for his pregnant wife, the police began to think things seemed a little bit off. Especially lead detective Kelly Kent, who had begun adding 2 and 2 together. (2)
First, Detective Kent found Lori's purse just sitting at home with her wallet inside. Mark explained that she would not take her purse on a jog, which makes sense, but to leave everything behind for both a jog and a trip to the gym sat a little uneasy in her mind. Then, she noted that the bathtub smelled a lot like bleach, while the sheets on the bed were crisp, as if they had just been purchased. Her wedding ring was also found sitting inside the jewelry box. Though none of this was hard evidence, and perhaps not even enough to be circumstantial evidence, Kent and the detectives believed something was wrong. (2)
As they began looking further into Mark as a possible suspect, they found that he had just purchased a new mattress. They also found a hunting knife in his drawer with some blood on it, but he said it was from a recent hunt. But Kent was certain that Lori's husband had killed her and dumped her body in the trash. (2)
The lies began to unravel quickly as Kent began digging deeper and deeper. One night during the investigation, Mark was seen running around naked at a nearby motel. He was completely naked and hysterical, but when cops realized he was wearing shoes to protect his feet, they realized he wasn't actually having a mental break, but seeking sanctuary, perhaps at a mental health facility. (Kind of like Walter White going full nude in the supermarket in Breaking Bad?) (2)
From there, things kept falling further apart for Mark, but further into place for the detectives. When the police began checking school records, they found out that he had not even graduated from the University of Utah, and was not enrolled in Chapel Hill in North Carolina for medical school. He faked everything, and lied to his wife about it. (2)
On August 2, 2004, Mark was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife. They believed he had killed her in her sleep and dumped her body in a dumpster. In addition to the above circumstantial evidence and some blood found in the home, Mark's brothers claimed that he had confessed to killing Lori when they confronted him days after hit happened. He was officially charged on August 9. (1)
On October 1, searchers found the remains of Lori in the Salt Lake County landfill. Despite Lori's family pleading with their once beloved son and brother-in-law to save the family the grief of a trial, he pleaded not guilty to murder. (1)
According to the investigators, they believed that on the night of July 18, Lori found out that everything Mark had been telling her had been false. Because of these lies, and knowing she was about to bring a child into the world with him, she was planning to leave him. And rather than risking a divorce, he murdered her. (1)
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AND AFTERMATH (1)
Ultimately, Mark did plead guilty on April 15, 2005, and confessed to the crime, so prosecutors would drop some of the other charges being brought against him. On June 6, 2005, he was sentenced to SIX YEARS to life in prison, 5 for the murder, and an additional year for using a firearm.
The Utah Board of Pardons decided he should not receive a parole hearing until 2035, so he was sentenced officially to a minimum of 30 years, especially when they heard that he had covered up her murder by disposing of her body and tossing it in the trash, and then wasting police resources by reporting her missing. Lori's family was terrified he would only receive a 6 year sentence, and felt their faith in the justice system was upheld when it was determined he'd be behind bars for at least 30 years. "Lori's Law" was developed to ensure that, in Utah, those convicted of first-degree murder must serve at least 15 years before being considered for parole.
The family decided to remove her last name "Hacking" from her headstone, as she was murdered by the man who gave her that last name, who they felt just did not want her anymore. While in prison, officials discovered that Mark was selling various personal items on a website called "Murder Auction".
In a statement, he claimed he knew prison was where he needed to be, and he apologized to Lori and everyone he had hurt by his actions. "My pain is deserved; yours is not," he wrote, as he begged for forgiveness. Most of his statement was actually about the lies he was telling, wishing he could take them back and cautioning others not to do such a thing. Sure, Mark, but lots of people lie. They don't all shoot their wives and dump their bodies out with the trash.
There are so many cases of husbands killing their wives that every single time a married woman "goes missing" or "mysteriously dies", the suspicion immediately falls on the husband. They report them missing and plead for answers on TV, all the while knowing that they ended their life and threw them out like trash. He caused people to waste their time, money and resources to search for a woman who's whereabouts he knew, because he had put her there.
There are so many stories on Snapped or Dateline of husbands killing their wives (and wives killing their husbands, to be fair, but not what I'm talking about.) In fits of rage during a fight, or because she stumbled upon information he had been trying so hard to conceal, or because she was pregnant and he didn't want a baby. The anger becomes too much, or the desire to keep the lie hidden or the marriage intact supersedes everything and then... bam. Dead at the hands of the person who is supposed to love you the most. Trust me, a divorce would be better than life in prison.
At some point on July 18th, 2004, Lori Hacking was happy. (Well, unless the fact that her husband was able to murder her in cold blood, to you, says that he was probably abusive and a terrible husband, which is very possible. But no evidence of that, technically.) So she was happy. She had a husband she'd loved for a decade, a family that adored them, a baby on the way, and the prospect of a new home in a new state all coming her way. And then, she finds out the the man she married is a liar, their move is a farce and bringing a child into the world with someone like him is worrisome. They fight. She goes to bed. And while she sleeps, she is shot and killed. Again, a divorce is better than death and jail time. Your lies coming out to the public on your own accord is better than them being found out by detectives during an investigation.
The writing may have been on the wall, unfortunately. She was planning to pick up and move so her husband, who had no degree and no acceptance into medical school, could "go to medical school". While she grew a baby and worked to provide for the family, what was he going to do? Could he continue the lie? Likely not. And if his plan was to kill her when she found out, it was going to happen no matter when she stumbled upon the truth.
Lori Hacking is just 1 of so many women who have lost their lives at the hands of her husband, and the phenomenon is as horrifying as it is predictable. But it is unimaginable. How do you kill someone you love? How do you wrap them up and throw them in a dumpster? How do you cry on TV and accept the condolences of those watching you "mourn" while your last memory of your wife is when you shot and killed her? Hey husbands, STOP KILLING YOUR WIVES!
Lori's family lost their beloved daughter, but also the man they had treated and loved like a son. I hope all those who love her, who have had to grapple with losing Lori and losing her loving husband as he morphed into a monster in front of them, are able to find peace and joy in their lives without her.