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Hacking Denies Having Anything to Do With Wife's Disappearance

Hacking Denies Having Anything to Do With Wife's Disappearance

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If you wish to volunteer for the search, you are asked to go to the LDS Stake Center located at 142 W. 200 North in downtown Salt Lake. Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old. Please bring a Photo ID with you. SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mark Hacking's father "looked him in the eye" and asked if he had anything to do with his wife's disappearance amid revelations of deceit and erratic behavior that threatened his credibility.

Police and family members had feared those doubts would diminish the public's interest in aiding the search for 27-year-old Lori Hacking, who vanished early Monday, reportedly as she went for a jog near downtown.

But that worry appeared unfounded Friday when an estimated 500 volunteers roamed downtown areas and posted fliers featuring Lori's picture. A day before, about 175 had searched.

Even as the public outpouring surged, questions mounted about Mark Hacking's actions the morning his wife was reported missing.

Douglas Hacking said he approached his son Mark Hacking -- who has been called a person of interest, but not a suspect, in the case -- and asked if he was to blame.

"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. "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."

Hacking confirmed that his son was involved in an incident early Tuesday morning that led to his medication and hospitalization in a Salt Lake City hospital, just hours after his wife disappeared.

Speculation about the husband's credibility was fueled by news that he was at a furniture store buying a mattress shortly before he alerted police about the disappearance.

Police and family worried the questions would keep people away from the search.

"I'm sorry that all the attention directed toward our son Mark has hindered our efforts to find Lori," Douglas Hacking said.

Mark Hacking, 28, has not appeared publicly since the day his wife disappeared.

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.

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," said Lori's mother, Thelma Soares.

"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."

The Soareses insisted the focus of the case should be on finding their daughter, not questioning her husband.

"We know where Mark is. She's still missing. She's the one we have to find," Thelma Soares said. Lori's father, Eraldo, said he had not yet spoken with his son-in-law.

Baird confirmed that in minutes before he called police to report his wife missing, Mark Hacking was buying a new mattress.

Hacking came into Bradley's Sleep Etc. Monday morning to buy a mattress. The owner says it was right around 10 a-m, the same time Mark claimed to have called his wife at work. But owner Chad Downs says he never used his phone in the store, and he never noticed Mark acting extremely worried.

Chad Downs, Bradley's Sleep Etc.: “Pretty calm, nothing unusual that I noticed, congenial... Not very talkative."

Downs says Mark never mentioned anything about his personal life, or why he needed the mattress. But he found one pretty quickly.

Chad Downs, Bradley's Sleep Etc.: “Told him a little bit about it. He said that looks good. I don't think he even laid on it. Might have put a knee into it. He said that looks good. I'll take it."

According to Downs, Mark said he already had a box spring. At 10:23, his credit card was run through. And he left the store around 10:30 or 10:35.

Hacking reported his wife missing to police at 10:49 a.m.

Police removed a number of items from the couple's apartment Monday. Again Friday, they refused to say what was taken, though reporters saw paper bags, boxes and a box spring being removed. Police impounded a large trash bin from behind the apartment complex.

Also Friday, police took a swab from a municipal plastic trash bin that had been left on a street by a neighbor outside the Hackings' apartment building the day Lori disappeared.

Devan Hite told The Associated Press that when he went to retrieve his bin after collection rounds Monday, it gave off a foul odor from a "protein-rich brown fluid."

Hite, 25, lives directly across the street from the Hackings' apartment building, which before his wife's disappearance was managed by Mark Hacking.

Hite said the fluid couldn't have come from anything his family threw out. "We've been living off fruit and vegetables," he said.

Hite said two police officers and a crime-scene inspector took a swab of the residue Friday and interviewed him.

The new manager for the apartment building, Anya Turner, said residents were tired of media attention the building had drawn, and many were moving out. Television stations had held live broadcasts in front of the building earlier in the week.

"We're having a hard time finding tenents," she said.

A dry-erase board hanging above yellow police tape on the Hackings' apartment seemed mostly unchanged, and still included messages from apartment seekers, friends and residents who needed something fixed.

Despite his hospitalization, Hacking has been available to investigators on a need-to-know basis, Baird said.

Later Friday, the only reported witness to see Lori Hacking on the morning she disappeared backtracked. The woman told KSL NewsRadio she no longer thinks the woman she saw stretching at a city park was the missing jogger.

(KSL News contributed to this story.)

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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