Father of husband of vanished Utah woman: Son denied having anything to do with disappearance

Friday, July 23rd 2004, 6:07 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ The father of the man whose wife vanished this week, allegedly as she went out for a jog, said Friday that he confronted his son and the son denied having anything to do with the disappearance.

Police have called Mark Hacking, who has lied about his academic career and future plans, a person of interest in the case of his wife, Lori.

``I confronted my son yesterday morning, I looked him in the eye, and I said `I need you to tell me if you had anything to do with Lori's disappearance,''' Douglas Hacking said Friday. ``I have to tell you that he looked me in the eye, and he said, 'No.'

``And I know a lot of you will say, `Well, who can believe that?' But I want you at least to know that much of it.''

The elder Hacking confirmed that his 28-year-old son had an episode early Tuesday morning that led to his hospitalization, just hours after his 27-year-old wife vanished.

And police confirmed Friday that shortly before Mark Hacking called police Monday morning, he was at a furniture store buying a new mattress.

At some point late Monday or early Tuesday, police got a disturbance call involving Hacking from the Chase Suites hotel. Detective Dwayne Baird said the call became a medical response and that the situation was turned over to medics. He declined to say whether the medical problem was physical or psychiatric.

Doug Hacking refused to discuss that incident or his son's health and instead tried shift the public's attention back to the search for Lori, insisting that finding her is the ``main goal.''

``I'm just sorry that the attention on Mark has deflated the interest in this effort,'' he said.

More than 1,200 volunteers scoured the steep terrain surrounding a park and canyon in a search for Hacking on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, volunteers took fliers door-to-door in downtown Salt Lake City neighborhoods. But the number of searchers had fallen off after the husband's lies about his background were raised.

Family members said Lori Hacking was five weeks pregnant when she disappeared just days before the couple was to move to North Carolina, where Mark Hacking said he was going to attend medical school. But he had lied to his wife and family _ he never graduated from college, nor was he accepted to any medical school, authorities said.

``I'm aware, and we're all aware of all the rumors and speculation about this case that are flying everywhere,'' Lori's mother, Thelma Soares, said Friday.

``They're being handled by the proper authorities,'' she said through tears. ``I'm removing myself from all that because my baby is out there somewhere, and we need to find her.''

Baird confirmed that in minutes before he called police to report his wife missing, Mark Hacking was buying a new mattress. The owners of the furniture store told The Salt Lake Tribune that Hacking came in about 9:45 a.m. and that a credit-card purchase went through at 10:23 a.m.

Police have said Hacking called them and reported his wife missing at 10:49 a.m.

The furniture store owners did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Friends told the Tribune that he had called them about 10 a.m. about his wife's disappearance and said he had twice run his wife's usual jogging route, three miles each way.

Police removed a number of items from the couple's apartment Monday. They would not say what they have taken from the apartment, but reporters saw paper bags, boxes and a box spring being removed. Police impounded a large trash bin from behind the apartment complex.