It was just eight weeks ago that Thelma Soares last saw her daughter, Lori Hacking. What we have learned since has devastated two families and made news around the world.
On the night of July 18, Lori was packed and ready to follow her husband, Mark, to North Carolina so he could pursue his dream of medical school. The next morning, Mark called police to report his wife missing. Hundreds of people rushed to help authorities find her and Thelma pleaded for her daughter's safe return.
Then in a bizarre turn, Mark was found wandering naked at night in a parking lot. He was taken to a psychiatric ward and hospitalized. Just hours later, police discovered that not only was Mark not enrolled in medical school, but he had never even applied. Family and friends were stunned by this news of Mark's twisted deception. But Lori's family stood by him.
On August 2, 2004, Mark Hacking was arrested and charged with Lori's murder after confessing to his brothers that he did, indeed kill her.
Oprah: How are you doing?
Thelma: Well, I try to live one day at a time and we've been busy doing things that had to be done. We had to have a memorial for her…I have gone through her clothing and her personal effects.
When police first told Thelma of Mark's lies, she says she regarded them as "ludicrous."
"That was probably the biggest shock I have ever received in my life. We had lived that lie with him for so long," says Thelma, who has known Mark for about 10 years. She says Mark treated Lori "like she was something precious to him."
"Everybody that knew the two of them would say that they adored each other," Thelma says. "They were in love. There was no question in our minds or in my mind, especially…I have thought back—tried to think of things that she might have said that would have been a warning…There was nothing."
Thelma saw Mark in the hospital the day after her meeting with police.
"I just walked around up to him and put my arms around him like that and I said, 'Oh, Mark. Didn't you know that my love for you wasn't dependent on your becoming a doctor? Didn't you know that I loved you because of the way you treated Lori and because you were so good to me?"
"And then he…shook my shoulders. Promised me twice. 'I promise. I promise I had nothing to do with this,' he said."
Thelma says Mark told police he had thrown Lori's body in a dumpster. Authorities are still searching the landfill with cadaver dogs for Lori's body, going through about 5,000 tons of compacted garbage.
"This has been very, very difficult," says Thelma, who already has a headstone and plot for Lori. They have also held a memorial service.
"That's the most difficult part," Thelma says about the lack of a body. "This is why we got a headstone—so that we and her friends would have somewhere to go to remember her. And we know that the chances of recovering her body are very slim."
With all of the lies now revealed, and Mark's confession to his brothers, Thelma decided to write Mark a letter. She felt he had a right to know how she felt. Thelma said she told him that if he'd told them of his lies, they would have stood by him. The family would have tried to help him. What she most wanted to know was why instead, did he choose to murder Lori and his own unborn child?
Thelma feels nothing but love for Mark's family. She says they are wonderful people and is still very connected to them. "They have a lot harder deal here than I do," Thelma says. "I mean, it's horrible to have lost Lori. But, you know, I lost her. She was honorable and she was what was right. And I know that I'll see her again and we'll be together. Now, his parents don't have that about Mark. You know? And so I feel so sorry for them because they're such good people."
Lori's father, Eraldo Soares shares his thoughts on his daughter's tragic murder.
"I can't believe a person would do that to my daughter. It broke my heart. This is the worst thing to happen in my life…Out of this, I have learned a great deal. I'm not alone in this world. That thousands of people who care for me, and for that, I'm so thankful to them. What I do now is just go through pictures. I loved her and I know she loved me and she's going to be with me forever."
Dr. Robi Ludwig is a psychotherapist and regular contributor to CNN and Court TV. She explains how men who appear to be normal and healthy can actually snap and kill their wives.
"There's the real life Mark, the one that couldn't go to medical school, couldn't find a way to be as successful as his brothers, that felt low self-esteem and probably very bad about himself that he couldn't be who he wanted to be," she says. "And then the desired Mark who was going to medical school, who loved his wife, who loved his mother-in-law, who loved his family. So as long as he could portray himself as the desired Mark, he was, in fact, lovable and happy and perhaps not murderous."
"When that was no longer an option, that's what triggered the terror and the rage. And so in that moment of terror and rage in order to regain back control, they become murderous."
Lori graduated cum laude and was a member of the honor society. Thelma feels the best thing she can do to honor Lori's life is to help future students receive the opportunity to learn. She has started the Lori Kay Soares Hacking Scholarship Fund at the University of Utah.
"We hope that women who have had difficult life circumstances will benefit because education was so important to Lori."
To find out more about the Lori Kay Soares Hacking Scholarship visit www.lori.utah.edu or call (800) 561-LORI.
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