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Interview With Thelma Soares

Aired September 17, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, her daughter, Lori Hacking believed murdered, her son-in-law is charged after his shocking web of lies are exposed. And two months later Lori's body still has not been found. Tonight, her first primetime interview, Lori Hacking's mother, Thelma Soares speaks out on her agonizing ordeal. She's next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: We'll have a panel discussion later. This interview was conducted yesterday by Nancy Grace, our Court TV anchor, the host of "Closing Arguments," the former prosecutor and the author of the forthcoming book "Objection."

Was this hard to do, Nancy, to talk to the mother of a victim?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV ANCHOR: Larry, it was very, very difficult. By the time we had finished speaking, the floor manager can attest to this, we had been through two boxes of Kleenex. But, Larry, as much as she was crying throughout the interview, the pain was emoting from her, she was also strong at the same time in trying to find Lori's remains and trying to turn some kind of good out of evil.

KING: You all know the story. Mark Hacking reported that his wife Lori was missing. The following day he voluntarily admits to a psychiatric unit. Then a web of deceit comes out about him. He says he was in medical school, he wasn't. Police begin using cadaver- sniffing dogs. Mark's brothers say that he confessed to them. Mark Hacking was arrested August 2, arraigned on first-degree murder charges. The body still not found. Let's begin -- later a panel discussion as Nancy begins her conversation with Thelma Soares by asking her how she, Thelma, was coping with Lori's death day by day.


THELMA SOARES, LORI HACKING'S MOTHER: Well, you know, losing Lori and my unborn grandchild under any circumstances would be a devastating loss. But losing her under these bizarre circumstances, I realized early on, that the way I can cope with this is to try to make something good and positive emerge from this double tragedy, because it is a double tragedy. And so this is why Lori's scholarship is so important to me. Lori was not a deprived child. However, at the end, she was terribly abused, and violated. And so this scholarship is -- thank you. This scholarship is to help other young women who have come from difficult circumstances in life. It's at the University of Utah, the David Echo School of Business. And perhaps these young women have been abused, perhaps they're single mothers who are having a struggle to get ahead in life and who need some help to go to school. Education was extremely important to Lori. She believed in it.

GRACE: Yes. I've heard the stories about how hard she worked at work and how her co-workers depended on her and she really became the go-to girl, so full of energy and drive.

SOARES: She's very conscientious. She was an excellent student. She always did her homework. If she had an assignment...

GRACE: And beautiful.

SOARES: Beautiful. Yes.

GRACE: There's no two ways about that.

SOARES: Yes. I can take no credit for that. She was a very private person. Her roommate told me that -- this was when she first went away to college, she put a picture of me out and her roommate said, you don't look like your mom at all, do you? And Lori just said, no. And it wasn't until, I think she said about six weeks later after she'd come to know and trust this person did she told her she had been adopted as an infant.

She was just a private person. I see her differently than her friends see her. I see her as a daughter. Of course, I've loved her for so many years. And we waited for her for lots of years. We had adopted our son, Paul. We got him through Los Angeles County. Then a year or two later, we went back to the county because we wanted a little girl, and that was just after Roe v. Wade passed and they said, well, you're 500th on the list. And so we thought, well...

GRACE: To get a baby girl, you were 500?

SOARES: On the list. So we turned to our church, a social service agency. We actually got Lori through the church's adoption agency. But even so, we still waited for her for about five years. So we've waited a long time to get her.

GRACE: How old was Lori when you got her?

SOARES: Three months.

GRACE: An infant.

SOARES: She was a little tiny infant.

GRACE: What was Lori like growing up?

SOARES: She was the delight. She was so cute. I have to tell you a funny story. There was a woman who lived in our congregation, in the church and she had a granddaughter that was born about six weeks before Lori. And one day in church, I don't know, the kids were probably four or five months old, she kind of whispered to me, and she said, Thelma, don't tell my daughter this, but Lori is the prettiest baby I have ever seen. And I said, prettier than your own grandchild? She said, oh, yes.

GRACE: That's a compliment.

SOARES: And she -- everybody -- because she had this dark, curly hair. And one day somebody rang the doorbell, it was a salesman, I had her on my hip, you know, the way you carry children, he looked at her and said, ma'am, in about 15 years, you're going to have to stand out on this porch with a big stick and beat all the boys away. You know, everywhere we went, she drew attention. Her hair grew really fast and it was beautiful and curly and came down to here.

She was about -- she was two -- going on 3, I guess, when I needed to cut her hair because the poor little thing would cry, it was so curly and would get snarly and no matter how many no tangles, how much I put on, she would cry. So I took her in a professional salon. There was a gentleman sitting there, I guess with his wife. I didn't even know him, I was carrying her over to the chair. He said, you're not going to cut that baby's hair, are you? I said, yes, I am. She cried.

GRACE: When she got her hair cut, did she like it?

SOARES: Yes, oh, yes.

GRACE: I noticed in her wedding pictures, her hair was long again.

SOARES: It was long again. As she got older and was able to take care of her hair and know how to brush it herself -- it's difficult for children.

GRACE: You know what I'm noticing, Mrs. Soares, that when I asked you about what your life is like now, what is a day in your life like, you started telling me about the scholarship for abused girls.

SOARES: That keeps me going every day.

GRACE: Is it because it's painful to talk about a day in your life right now?

SOARES: A little bit. You know, I've -- I've been busy with the memorial service. And then the very week after that, I went to the university and we tried to establish a scholarship.

GRACE: Right.

SOARES: Then, after that, we had to bring all of her clothes and personal effects out of storage. That was difficult week. But what I decided to do was -- she was a tiny little thing, and I can...

GRACE: Was she about 5'2? SOARES: No. She was about 5'3, but she was thin. She wore 4s or 6s. So I couldn't wear her clothes but I could wear her shoes and I could wear her jewelry. This is a piece of her jewelry and some of her earrings.

GRACE: That really is beautiful.

SOARES: This is the ring that -- Mark sold his car to buy this ring for her when they were married. They said they considered it an investment in their future.


KING: More of Nancy Grace's interview with the late Lori Hacking's mother right after this.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, the first prime-time interview of Thelma Soares conducted by Nancy Grace. Nancy asks Thelma as we begin this segment how she reconciles what her son-in- law, Mark Hacking, is accused of doing to her daughter, Lori.


SOARES: That's the very, very difficult part. You know, I sit with his parents. They were at my house the other night, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) until midnight. And we talk about, was there something that we missed that should have been a red flag to us, you know? There was nothing. He was as good to me as he was to Lori. He came to me and asked permission to marry Lori.

Soon after they were married, I don't know how many new sons-in- law do this, but he and I were riding somewhere alone in the car, and he was very serious, he said, Thelma, Lori and I have discussed this, and we have decided that when you're no longer able to live alone, that you're going to come and live with us. By then, I'll be through medical school, I'll have a practice, we'll have a house, we won't live in an apartment anymore, and so you're going to come and live with us.

Now, how can you not love a son-in-law? You know, how can you not -- these are just many of the things that -- he fixed things for me. He fixed my car for me. He installed a sprinkler system in my backyard. He fixed the cooler for me. No matter what was wrong in the house, he would fix it for me. So I -- this is the really difficult thing. I can't in my heart and my mind, I can't reconcile this Mark with the Mark that would kill Lori. It's just difficult.

GRACE: What do you think really happened? I mean, they had such a beautiful marriage, seemingly. What happened? All this over a lie?

SOARES: Well, not a lie.

GRACE: A big -- a big, long, intricate pattern? SOARES: A web of lies that had gone on for many years. Lori never said anything to me about it. I think she was deceived also for most of the time.

GRACE: Would she have shared it with you? Don't you feel she would have shared it with you?

SOARES: She probably would have, if it had been -- if she thought that it was serious enough. You know, there might have been some little things. I mean, one semester, he dropped out and didn't tell her -- her roommate was telling me this, Gina (ph). And Lori felt bad. She didn't tell me about it, because I guess he somehow smoothed it over, explained, you know, oh, I was under too much stress, or it's just a semester, I'm you know, I'm going back next semester. It doesn't make any difference. She didn't tell me that. But she was very loyal to Mark. She was very loyal.

GRACE: She probably did not want to denigrate him in your eyes, or anyone else's. So if it wasn't that big of a deal, then why bring it up? But you can't -- do you feel that if she had known about this long pattern of a double life, I just can't help but think she would have told you.

SOARES: Yes. I think so. I think she would have -- you know, eventually, she would have come home or she would have come, she would have told us and asked for help.

GRACE: Would she have come home to you?

SOARES: Well, I'm not sure that she would do that immediately. I would hope that she would have. I don't know that. I would hope that she would. I'm there close.

She has an aunt that lives in San Diego, my brother's wife. And she's very close with her. She loves to go to San Diego. This sister-in-law lives just up from Mission Bay there. In fact, she and Mark were there in May.

GRACE: You know, Mrs. Soares, when you talk, you talk as if Lori is still alive. You say she's very close to her aunt. It seems as if she's in your mind still alive.

SOARES: Well, I know that the real Lori still is alive. I know where she is. And I know who met her, I know when she slipped into eternity -- they've started a new phase now in searching for her body. It started Tuesday of this week. You know, before they had the cadaver dogs.

GRACE: Right.

SOARES: And they'd have to go three or four days and then stop for three or four days. And it was in the heat of the summer, and it was terrible. And now, they're doing visual hand searches. This is by special police volunteers. Captain Roger, I believe his name was Wilkers (ph) or something -- Winkler (ph), I guess. I've forgotten that. Anyway, he goes right down into the pit with his men, and they went through about 75 percent of about 5,000 tons of compacted garbage, not 5,000 pounds, 5,000 tons. And they are now going to go through all of that again, by hand, visually, and also go through the last 25 percent, you know, of the area, where they're pretty sure Lori's body...

GRACE: And these are volunteers?

SOARES: These are volunteer police officers.

GRACE: That know about Lori and are trying to help.

SOARES: Yes. Lay volunteers are not allowed to do that at the mount hill (ph). But these are police officers, who are volunteering to come and go through all of this, so I know what the chances are. The chances are slim. Certainly, they might find her hair and her skeleton. But little else at this point.

But my religious belief is such that I know in the resurrection, her body will be whole and perfect again, and as beautiful or not as beautiful, more beautiful, actually, than it was in mortality.

So I concentrate on this. This is how I get through the day. I think about where she is, who's with her, what she's doing there. And sometimes I even envy her. She doesn't have to worry anymore about terrorist attacks. I don't have to worry anymore about her being in a terrorist attack. I don't have to worry about a lot of things anymore.

However, the loss is enormous. And not only her, but the child she was carrying. It makes it very difficult.


KING: More of Nancy Grace's interview with Thelma Soares continues after this. Don't go away.


KING: As we continue, Nancy asked Lori's mother about the Web site dedicated to Lori and what's posted on it.


SOARES: We've gotten letters from all over the world, actually. I don't know if you've gone to her Web site, it's And the other day -- it was the 26th of August, we even got a message from someone at McMurtle (ph) station in Antarctica. We've gotten messages from Malta, from Beijing, from Israel, from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, all throughout Europe. And most of these messages, of course, send their love and their compassion and their condolences. And so many of them say, we never met Lori in person, but we feel like we know her and she had an impact on our lives.

It's a little strange. You know, and I'll have husbands say, I look at my wife and children differently now. You know, I hold my family closer to me now. And I want you to know that she's had a positive impact on our lives.

So this has been amazing to me. I think Lori is quite amazed, that, you know, because she never touted herself in anything. I didn't even know she had been -- she had received the president's award at the University of Utah, for high academic -- you know, she just never did brag about herself.

But all these people have been so kind, and they have sent -- so many of them have sent money. That's how we were able to start the scholarship.

I must tell you about one little family from San Jose, California. It was in a little three by five card, and just one little sentence, "we feel so sorry about Lori." And inside the envelope was a little kind of folded dollar bill and a dime. And on the envelope, I guess it was a mother or -- I'm not sure if it was a mother, or a father, had written, "our little son wants to do something for Lori." And he, I guess, put the dollar and the dime in there.

So that touched my heart. The goodness of people everywhere has touched my heart. And it has somehow helped just to know that this grief is shared by thousands and thousands.

GRACE: So many people.

SOARES: Yes. One woman from Mississippi wrote -- her name was Cindy. And she wrote, I believe, it was, "Lori has become every mother's daughter, and your nightmare has become our nightmare." And this sort of capsullized the thoughts that so many people have expressed. You know, that they have -- they'll say, I have been following this story from the first day. I'm not sure why it has captured my attention so much. But I think it's because of the bizarre circumstances.

GRACE: Bizarre is the only word to describe it. And I recall seeing you, when Lori first went missing, supporting Mark. When you learned that he had given an alleged confession, that must have hit like a ton of bricks.

SOARES: Well, what hit like a ton of bricks was when the police told us on that Wednesday afternoon that he was not enrolled in medical school, and as a matter of fact, he hadn't even graduated from the University of Utah. All of the Hackings were in the room and all of us were in that room...

GRACE: At the same time?

SOARES: Yes. When the police officer came in. And we were so stunned, we were speechless. We -- his sister, Mark's sister, was standing next to me. She turned to me and said, did you hear that? Did you hear what I heard? That can't possibly be right. Everybody was saying that that can't be right. And we said to the policeman, are you sure? And he said, oh, yes. We knew yesterday. GRACE: And this facade had been going on for years.

SOARES: Yes. I had lived it with him.

GRACE: You even checked some of his papers, right?

SOARES: Yes, yes, I did. I did.

GRACE: What were the papers about?

SOARES: Well, you know, they were psychology papers. He was a psychology major. And one of them had to do with art therapy. And in fact, he told -- it was about this therapist that goes into troubled people and has them draw a tree. And then can tell a lot about them by the way they draw their tree. And he said to me, Thelma, it was really kind of scary. You know, he pretty much zeroed in on me from the tree I drew.

Now, I don't know if that was a real class he took, or if that was just another lie.

GRACE: So his own family didn't have a clue?

SOARES: No. He in fact, I did another paper for him about an orangutan named Rufus. And I thought, it had been, this orangutan had been abused by its mother when it was a child, a baby. And I thought, did he make that -- I mean, you know -- did he buy this? And so I asked the psychologist -- I -- right after this happened, I was getting some help from a professional psychologist, who is a grief counselor for parents whose children have been murdered. And so I asked her, I said, is that a real case? Is there a real case study about Rufus? And she said, yes.

So either he bought that paper off the Internet, or he'd heard about it. I don't know.

Mark did like to do language things. He loved to do word puzzles. You know? If I were doing a puzzle, a crossword puzzle or something, he'd come in and look over my shoulder, and he'd get involved with it. You know, if I had laid it aside, he'd go finish it. He liked to do word things.

GRACE: What do you think led to this? Because he sounds like a good guy, a good son-in-law, a good husband, a good son. Why did it have to culminate in a murder?

SOARES: You know, I -- the only thing that makes sense to me about how this started, and this is purely conjecture on my part -- but in '97, Mark was working -- he was framing a house, and he was up, you know, in the scaffolding, and he actually -- either the board slipped or broke, and he fell down onto the cement floor. It broke his back. I've seen the X-rays of his back that has, you know, a steel rod and pins in it. And he hit his head. And it started -- he started seizing. You know, he -- the concussion was -- his father, who was a pediatrician, told me one day that that is not uncommon for people who have concussions, that it brings on seizures, and also that they have trouble with short-term memory. And they have trouble focusing or concentrating. But this usually passes in about three or four months.

GRACE: Did you ever see any repercussions of that? Did he have lasting effects?

SOARES: Well, see, this is the only thing that might have happened. He -- his -- apparently, his did not pass, but he did not tell anybody. Because he had been -- you know, he had been a good student in high school. But I can see that it might have -- that might have started it. For example, if he couldn't concentrate anymore, if he had a hard time remembering or studying. Let's say he wrote a paper and got a bad grade on it and he was embarrassed and felt bad, so he covered that up. You know, he told a little white lie about that paper. That might have started this...

GRACE: Another white lie and another one.

SOARES: That's -- I have no idea if that's how it started. But that's my thoughts.


KING: In the remaining moments of Nancy's interview with Thelma, she asked the key question, why does she think he did it. Then we'll have our panel discussion. Don't go away.


KING: We conclude the interview with Nancy asking Thelma why she thinks it happened. Watch.


SOARES: I -- aside from this incident that I already spoke about, him dropping out for a semester. But he did go back. He did go to school through 2002. She was planning to move. She took -- you know, they had a party on Friday night, Randy Church and the people at Wells Fargo had a party for them. And she was so happy. You probably have seen the pictures of that. But one of the Wells Fargo people came to me and said, Thelma, that night, Lori was very happy and so excited to be moving on with her life, but Mark was very solemn, was the word they used. Very solemn and very quiet. And they wondered about that. You know.

So -- but, see, earlier that afternoon, Lori had made a phone call to North Carolina, I think, something about money. And the people there, her work colleagues said she said something like, what do you mean he isn't enrolled? And then she began to cry and got upset. And got up, and they said, oh, Lori, just go on home. So she rushed out. And I -- I don't know. This again is my guess. My guess is that when she found Mark and confronted him with this, I think one of the people at North Carolina, even said that they had made a call, and that they were going to call back Monday morning or something to that effect, and Mark said, it's a computer glitch, we'll clear it up Monday morning. And... GRACE: He probably put her off.

SOARES: He put her off, you see. And this was Friday. And she, I guess, accepted it.

GRACE: Was happy at the party.

SOARES: Happy at the party. Sunday night, they had their little church group, the university ward up there after church, had a little going away party for them. One of the little girls came to me at the memorial service and embraced me and said, I think I was the last one to speak to Lori. She said how excited she was to be going. Then, at 10:30 that night, Mark's sister and brother-in-law lived in one of the apartments downstairs in that complex, and Lori took food down to her and said, we're not going to be using this, so it will spoil in the refrigerator.

GRACE: She was still planning to move that night.

SOARES: Yes. So I think, you know, as the deadline, as the zero hour approached -- I wrote him a letter and I said, you could have walked away, or you could have or you could have -- you know, the alternatives are many. But instead, you chose to murder Lori and your own child. Why?

GRACE: Did he respond?

SOARES: No. He hasn't responded yet and I'm sure his lawyer will not allow him to do that. But I had no -- you know, we just have no idea why he felt -- I've heard people -- I've heard psychologists on TV say that probably she found out, that probably there was a big fight, that she said she was going to leave him. And that he decided that if he couldn't have her no one would have her. But I have no idea what the real truth is.

GRACE: Ms. Soares, you've given me to show to the viewers, this beautiful framed poem about Lori your daughter. Where does it come from?

SOARES: Her high school friends brought that to us the day of her memorial service. They made this. They got together and remembered Lori and they just wrote down -- it isn't actually a poem it's just a statement of how -- of what Lori was, what her personality was. They made one for me and for her father and for her brother.

GRACE: Do you want to read it?

SOARES: I get too emotional. You can read it.

GRACE: I'll pick it up right here. It says this is by Lori's many many friends. You are summer flip-flops, vibrant colors basking in the sun. Spring with great ideas blooming in your head. Gorgeous smile. Your birthday celebrations, the Old Spaghetti Factory. You are KBER 101 music. You're diet cokes, extra-large. You are roller- blading. You are long conversations on the phone. You're cheese fries, Wendy's frosties and stand shakes. V-neck T-shirts. Reverse- fit jeans. Shopping sprees at Lerner's, always sporting the latest fashion. Hoop earrings, silver necklaces, straightening your hair for hours at a time. You're larger than life. Personality in a petite frame. You are the host and the life of the party. You're teenage girl fights, you are roll of the eyes, you balanced your checkbook, your goals to be set and achieved. You are beautiful in every way.

It's beautiful.

SOARES: Yes. I liked that first one that you missed because Lori was that, too. I can read that for you. You were a small-town girl with big city sophistication. She loved the city. You were California cool with Las Vegas excitement. But also Washington D.C. intellect and New York chic.

GRACE: That describes her.

SOARES: That describes Lori. She loved to come to New York. She was here several times.

GRACE: Mrs. Soares, do you ever perceive that you feel Lori's presence? Does that comfort you in any way?

SOARES: Yes. It does. Those are, you know, those are fairly sacred moments and I'd rather not speak about those.

GRACE: Yes, yes. You have a long road ahead of you, but you seem so brave and so willing to go forward.

SOARES: Well, I'm hoping that some day, before I die, someone will come up to me and say, my life has been changed because my mother was able to go to school on Lori's scholarship. That would be the ultimate reward for me.

GRACE: Well, for the comfort that it gives you, please know so many, many people are praying for you and have you in their thoughts and hearts.

SOARES: I hope they will go to and read about her more and read about the scholarship.

GRACE: And the scholarship.

SOARES: Yes. If they're able to give anything toward that, I -- and by the way, I thank all of those people, from the bottom of my heart, who already have given. I know it's a sacrifice. The university has set up for people who don't use the Internet, they've set up a 1-800-number. It's just 561 -- or 651, I guess it is, LORI, L-O-R-I. People write and say, we wish we can do something to help. This is how they can help me and help Lori and help those young women whom Lori would want to help. Yes.


KING: Our panel will discuss all this right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Nancy Grace, the Court TV anchor who did that wonderful interview. Chris Pixley, the defense attorney in Atlanta. Dr. Robi Ludwig, the psychotherapist who -- practice includes couples in marriage counseling. Dr. Ludwig is in New York. And Heidi Hatch is in Salt Lake City. Heidi is a reporter for KTVX TV, has been covering the case. What's the latest on the case. Has he been formally charged?

HEIDI HATCH, KTVX CORRESPONDENT: He has been formally charged. And his preliminary hearing is actually coming up next week on Thursday. And a lot of people are looking to that wondering what's going to happen?

Because the charging documents came out with a lot more information than they had to have evidentiary-wise. And so I think a lot of people are thinking the prosecutors are going to throw out absolutely everything they have, save nothing for a trial, hoping that there will be a plea deal so they don't actually have to go through with a trial for the sake of both of these families.

KING: So, they want a plea deal like life in prison. Is that it?

HATCH: Well, they certainly haven't said that. And they won't say that, because they'll do what it takes to get this through the court system. But I think the feeling is -- that's coming from this, is that they're going to, I guess, lay it out all on the table, make sure they have all their evidence up front. And so Mark's attorneys can see they have him basically, and so that they don't feel like they'll make it through a trial.

KING: Two other quick things for you, Heidi. Utah has the death penalty, right?

HATCH: That's correct.

KING: And I understand that he contacted your television station. What was that about?

HATCH: He did. He wrote this letter. This is a copy of it right here. And he wrote it to one of the reporters here, Brent Huntsacker (ph). And he was -- basically the letters just saying that he appreciated the kindness that our reporters have shared with his family. And I think his parents had relayed, I guess, the reporters they've been work with, it had been a good experience.

But the thing that stands out to myself and everyone else we've been reporting, he said he would write a book about his experiences. He says it's going to be a tell all. He'll answer anything, any questions, and he'll talk about absolutely everything. And that's actually made a lot of people in Utah and around the country angry, because they're saying, really, should he be writing a book about this? Is he being flippant about it?

And also making them angry, is saying he's going to give all of the proceeds of this book he's going to write to the Lori Scholarship Fund. And many are saying that's blood money, it's dirty money, they don't want it going towards these scholarships. So, what he wrote in this letter has become very upsetting for a lot of people.

KING: Chris Pixley, what do you think of this case?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well first of all, it's new news about the book is really, I think, unfortunate, it makes the job even more difficult for his defense counsel. I think it's strange and ill- advised. And while he's free, certainly, to write a boo, I think there is only a very slim chance that Mark Hacking would ever be found innocent, and for that reason, only a slim chance that he would ever be ever to profit from it.

The case itself, Larry, is a real challenge for anyone defending him. I think a plea deal is necessary for the family. The real question will be whether defense council can make headway with a plea. In other words, whether they can get anything other than life without parole. I think a great victory would be life with some possibility of parole, simply because the evidence is so overwhelming.

And I don't think -- last issue, I really don't think there is a viable insanity defense here. Utah law is very strict, unlike other states that ask whether the defendant knew the difference between right and wrong and could differentiate it at the time that they committed the act. And if they couldn't, they have a defense. In Utah they simply ask did you intend to kill? So, if Mark Hacking was having hallucinations, if he thought his wife was a demon or an al Qaeda terrorist, it doesn't matter, if he intended to kill her, he has no in sanity defense. And with all of the facts, insanity would be really the only thing that might actually save him.

KING: Before we get Nancy thoughts, Dr. Ludwig, as a psychotherapist, what's your read on this?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, with intimate partner homicide, what we found is that usually when the murder occurs, the marriage is in state of crisis. And that at that moment in time, the criminal really has a private logic going on, where they feel in danger. And very often, it's not premeditated in a psychological sense, that it's basically done with the same intensity that road rage is done. It's an out of control attempt to try to regain control of a situation that's just completely lost.

So, I would think at that moment in time, the dream was lost. And somehow, in a bizarre logic, he thought perhaps, in getting rid of Lori, he could erase all of the damage and all the lies. And somehow, regain his sense of himself, which of course, it doesn't work like that.

KING: And Nancy, what did you learn by talking to the suspect's mother-in-law, about him?

GRACE: Larry, she was in so much pain, and the emotion was so raw still, that I found it very difficult to put questions to her regarding Mark Hacking's guilt, or the possible death penalty or life without parole. Larry, she still speaks of Lori in the present tense. And I just don't think she's at the point of finality where she can discuss the legal system or jurisprudence.

But I can tell you, this much, in comparison to the empathy and inspiration I felt when I was with Mrs. Soares, the contempt for Mark Hacking is equally as strong, because here he's offering to write a tell all book. Are you kidding me? And he's going to try an insanity defense? Listen, no insane person is writing a tell-all book for money. And also, to even have the wherewithal to write Heidi Hatch, the reporter tonight, shows he is very well in control of his faculties, Larry.

KING: Is he definitely going to plead insanity, do you know that?

GRACE: Well, the fact that -- I would give an educated wager, yes, he will mount a mental defect defense, and I think Chris will agree with me on that, because it was all headed that way. He checked himself into a psychiatric ward. You hear the stories now of an organic brain problem from falling off of a roof. He's given an alleged confession to a family member, so the confession will come into evidence, even though it was in a psychiatric ward. So with the confession and the evidence we think they have from the home, he's dead in the water. His only chance is a mental defect.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more of Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Dr. Robi Ludwig and Heidi Hatch. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police quickly mobilized a search in the air and on the ground, but found no sign of Lori.

MARK HACKING: Anybody who can possibly -- if you can make it, please come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police also say they will continue to search a two-acre lot in the local landfill, hoping to find the clues to solve the mystery of what happened to Lori Hacking.



KING: Heidi Hatch, is the word in Utah that he will try an insanity defense?

HATCH: I don't think they're going to try an insanity defense, but certainly something in mental regard. I think they know that the insanity defense is just way too difficult here, by standards, but something with mental defect, obviously.

KING: Mental defect to accomplish, Chris Pixley, a plea bargain?

PIXLEY: Well, I do think most of this is about a plea bargain right now. And I think the defense has something going for them in that respect, it's the woman that we just heard from, that Nancy interviewed. I don't think that Thelma Soares, I don't think that Mark Hacking's extended family wants to see a death penalty case brought against him, and certainly at the penalty phase, everyone knows that they -- they quite obviously could raise mental defect as a defense and make some headway there.

It might not come in at the trial, but certainly would come in at the penalty phase.

So I think that they're angling for something that is less than life without parole. And I don't know ultimately that they'll get it.

The other option is if you do go to trial, you're trying to get it down from aggravated murder to murder. And that's where this emotional disturbance, this mental illness, or this diminished mental capacity, whatever theory they're going under, would come into play. But again, I think it's very difficult, and the confession is what makes it so absolutely difficult.

KING: Robi, have you dealt with people who have led false lives?

LUDWIG: Yes. And it's always triggered by a feeling of inferiority and it starts with a sense of failure. And what we found with people who lie in a pathological way, that they can't tolerate being criticized or attacked. And that they're very creative, and have extraordinary verbal skills. And that they want pleasure. And so they'll do whatever it takes to get pleasure, including lying and living a double life, and they'll tell people what they want to hear so they can get away with it.

KING: Nancy, if the victims wanted and you were prosecuting, would you be amenable to a plea bargain of life without parole?

GRACE: That would be between a rock and a hard spot, Larry, but if it would cause more suffering to the victim's family to seek the death penalty on Hacking, I would bend to their wishes.

I think this is a clear death penalty case under aggravated murder for two lives, the baby, who was planned to be named Savannah, if it was a girl, and the life of Lori Hacking. But I don't see the families -- I don't see Mrs. Soares wanting the death penalty.

KING: Excellent interview, Nancy. Thanks for that.

And thanks to all of us, Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Dr. Robi Ludwig, and Heidi Hatch, and certainly Thelma Soares for agreeing to appear with Nancy Grace and for submitting and letting herself open herself as she did.

We'll take a break and come back and tell you about the weekend ahead as we lead up to "NEWSNIGHT." Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, we'll repeat our interview with Martha Stewart, the interview that was conducted right after she was sentenced. As you know, Ms. Stewart has now asked to serve her time. And on Monday night, a major program on a major problem in America. Over 20 million people suffer from it -- depression.

Aaron Brown has the night off. Sitting in is Fredricka Whitfield. She will host "NEWSNIGHT" out of Atlanta. You got to admit the picture is prettier than Aaron. Fredricka, go get'em.


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