Husband’s ‘perfect’ past keeps crumbling

Suspicions: As blood is reported found in the Hackings’ apartment, an ex-missionary says Mark was booted from a mission in Canada

Small amounts of blood are among the evidence taken last week from the apartment of Lori Hacking, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

But detectives won’t have a definitive answer on whose blood it is anytime soon.

State forensic experts assisted Salt Lake City police last week in searching the missing woman’s apartment, seizing bags of evidence and a box spring. Some of the evidence was sent to the state crime laboratory, but test results may take “weeks, if not months,” said Detective Phil Eslinger.

Meanwhile, police late Wednesday and early today were continuing the arduous task of sifting through thousands of tons of garbage at the Salt Lake County landfill, ostensibly in search of a body – although they acknowledge the difficulty of the effort.

“You could hide a car in there and never find it,” said Detective Dwayne Baird. “They literally have a mountain of stuff to go through. It could take months to go through.”

Meanwhile, attention continues to focus on Mark Hacking, who first reported his wife missing at 10:49 a.m. on July 19, claiming she never returned from a jog in City Creek Canyon. Police now question whether Lori was ever at the canyon, even though her car was found nearby.

“We are not certain she was ever up there,” Baird said. “We have found nothing that would indicate she was.” Police have no information about Lori Hacking’s whereabouts on July 19, and say, though she remains a missing person case, her disappearance has “very, very suspicious circumstances,” Baird said.

Mark Hacking’s comments, including those he made in his initial call, are now being questioned by police, who no longer consider him cooperative.

“When you don’t get anything from what he is saying, do you call it cooperative? Probably not,” Baird said. “We have had to make sure we double and triple check. He has a history of failing to tell the truth. It takes so much time to sift through.”

Mark Hacking told family and friends that he had graduated from the University of Utah and had been accepted to the medical school at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Police informed the family that Hacking had been lying. He never graduated from the U. and never applied to medical school.

Police say Hacking’s story has other holes, and his misrepresentations could go back for years.

“Medical school was the pinnacle of that deception,” Baird said.

The son of a respected Orem doctor and fifth of seven children, Hacking was known in the Winnipeg, Canada, district where he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the mid-1990s as a person with extremely bright prospects who also talked often of his girlfriend Lori, whom he had met while in high school, according to some fellow missionaries.

But at least one former missionary said Hacking was also prone to breaking the rules – and claims that resulted in a “worthiness hearing” and a premature trip back to Utah.

“My companion and myself steered clear when females would come over to the apartment so that we would not be caught up in that specific area of disobedience,” said Michael Turner, who joined the Winnipeg mission in 1996 and claims Hacking was having a relationship with a recent convert.

“It was a bit more than just holding hands and passionate kissing on the lips,” Turner said. “That is what got him sent home.”

Turner said Hacking also tried to convince his fellow missionaries to “live it up” before he was sent home.

“I wrote it off as crazy talk, but he was all of the sudden on the other side of the spectrum,” Turner said. “He was wanting to get some alcohol and get plowed, go gambling.”

Meanwhile, police say Hacking remains a patient in the University Neuropsychiatric Institute, where he was admitted the night after he reported his wife missing.

“When they are done with him, he is free to leave,” Eslinger said.

This is despite the fact that he remains a “person of interest” in his wife’s disappearance, which in the lexicon of the Salt Lake City Police Department is less than a “suspect.”

“A person of interest is someone that is looked at closely in regards to the case,” said Eslinger. “It’s someone that you need to look at a lot closer than just an interview, but there’s not enough to actually say, ‘You know what? We feel this person did it.’ ”

Police say the last time they spoke with Mark Hacking was a week ago, the same day Hacking hired attorney Gilbert Athay.

Athay says he regularly visits Hacking.

“Everyday. And I will continue to do so.” He declined to discuss Hacking’s demeanor but said his client was coherent.

Earlier this week, Lori Hacking’s family called off their request for the public’s help in searching for Lori, as they tried to regroup and determine where to send specialized groups to comb more rugged terrain.

The family has declined to comment on the search or any other aspect of Lori’s disappearance for the time being according to a woman who answered the search center phone number. All correspondence between the center and the family is now via e-mail, she said.

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