Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Hacking update

Mark and Lori's apartment has been released to their families. Can't help but wonder what the new occupants of that little spread have to say about their new address. Also, it's come to light that Lori had a particularly disturbing phone call at work Friday, leaving her in tears. Co-workers say it had to do with a married-student housing application to the medical center where Mark was supposedly accepted.

Police have renewed their search of a landfill with cadaver dogs, and have made (or leaked) the fact that they presume Lori to be dead.

More to come . . .

Depends on your definition of "better"

Yesterday's DNC lineup seemed to be a good round-up of reasons NOT to vote the Dems' ticket this November. Jimmy Carter spoke about foreign policy--ironic since the main things he accomplished in office were getting our asses kicked in Iran trying to get our hostages back, and giving away the Panama canal. Al Gore re-iterated his "count 'em til I win" philosophy, which translates into "every vote counts, and every vote (for the right people) will be counted."

Then Bill Clinton got up and made the most asinine statement I can imagine for this convention: "By the only test that matters, whether people were better off when we finished than when we started, our way works better . . ." I fail to see where that's the only test that matters . . . and I fail to see where his party passes the test. Clinton left office with the fuse lit on a grossly overvalued stock market, an open-door policy towards terrorists, and far more ammunition for anti-government radicals here in the U.S. thanks to his administration's handling of situations like Waco and Ruby Ridge. He pushed the highest tax increases ever through the house and senate, vetoed laws banning partial-birth abortion (not once, but twice), and appointed some of the most radical liberals ever to pass the bar exam to the Federal Judiciary.

Mr. Clinton, with all due respect, I am an American, and as my Country goes, so go I. If the United States sits weakened, a sitting duck for terrorists, I am vulnerable as well. If she cries with the pains of her nearly-born, my tears flow. If her life's-blood economic structure is in danger of collapse, I shall be found at the bottom of the rubble. If her founding principles are ridiculed, her proud heritage trashed, then I, like every other American, am nothing but a bastard child of superstitious plunderers.

Americans at the end of the Clinton administration's tenure were as blissfully ignorant as a cancer patient before his trip to the doctor. We had masked so many symptoms and denied so many "little" problems, that we were totally convinced that all was well. Nine months later, the diagnosis came. We were horribly ill, and too pumped-up on good feelings to notice.

By Clinton's line of reasoning, the cancer patient was much "better off" before he went to the doctor, and John Kerry really does need to be President. He'll make us feel better.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Not much new in Hacking Case

Not very much to report in the Hacking case through Sunday, so I'll just give a quick re-hash of the new developments over the weekend.

1. Unconfirmed reports that police found a bloody knife with hair attached in the Hacking home.

2. Convenience store employee found a clump of dark hair in a dumpster near the furniture store where Mark bought a new mattress

3. Police confiscated computers, a box spring, and many other items from the Hacking home

4. Police "sources" (read: off-the-record statements by officers) stated that the investigators believe that Mark Hacking is lying to them. Not particularly a stunning revelation, considering the known lies he's told thus far.

5. The witness who allegedly saw Lori stretching in the park said they could not be sure that it was actually Lori they saw.

6. Details now out show that Mark's original claim was that around 10 a.m. was when he first knew Lori hadn't made it to work.

Now, putting all this together is something that I firmly believe the investigators have already done, but don't expect much information in the form of "confirmed" reports prior to the initial hearings. Police here aren't going to make the same mistakes as were made in the Scott Peterson case.

My own instincts about when, how, and why are certainly irrelevant, but I've put forth opinions so far that have been echoed by later media reports, so I'll go out on a limb again.

As I've previously speculated, I think the true reason Mark and Lori were moving to North Carolina will be revealed in what investigators find on Mark's computer. I have a gut instinct that he was moving to be close to someone else, and Lori would have been promptly dropped, perhaps with a plane ticket to get back home to Salt Lake, after Mark was set in a new home. The whole graduation-med school charade would be sufficient for Mark to get a lot of assistance from both families with the relocation, and by the time he gave the c'est la vie to Lori, the move would be a done deal. Something happened, though, that screwed all this up--Lori got pregnant. Mark, knowing that a child (and child support) was not something he had counted on, found himself in a fix. Why not divorce her in Utah, though? Well, Utah and North Carolina are significantly different in one aspect of Divorce law---North Carolina does NOT take into account "marital fault" in determining whether alimony is ordered. So, Mark is faced with a dilemma. He may have decided to break things off with Lori now, or He may have been caught updating his long-distance interest over the computer. Either way, the powderkeg finally exploded in the pre-dawn hours of Monday. Mark, horrified at what he's done to Lori, makes a decision to cover the crime. He cleans the house as much as possible, but there's one problem--Lori's still there. He decides to wrap her in the mattress and drop it in a nearby dumpster. Nobody would suspect a fellow discarding an old mattress, and by moving Lori's car to the park, he can sufficiently divert attention from the dumpster until it's been emptied, its contents compacted and dumped in the city landfill. He moves quickly, getting Lori's car to the park before even the earliest-morning joggers show up, then returns home. Wrapping Lori (and probably other evidence like clothes, etc.) in the mattress, he straps it to the top of his car, drives to the dumpster, then to the furniture store to replace the mattress. He's in the store when it occurs to him that he needs to show some concern about Lori's whereabouts before much later in the day, so he calls her work, then some friends. Finalizing the mattress purchase, he returns home, places the new mattress, then calls police. He counted on police coming in, taking a brief statement, then going to the park to look for Lori. That would give him some additional time to look over the apartment and make sure that everything was concealed or discarded. Instead, they stay, making Mark all the more nervous. When they finally leave, he has to make a good show of helping with the search, so he has no time to tidy up. Monday afternoon, it finally sinks in that the police will search the apartment, and that they will, inevitably, find something that ties him to the crime. He formulates "plan B", and goes to a nearby hotel, getting a room under a false name. That night, after he's finally left alone, he goes to the hotel, strips, and makes a huge scene in the parking lot. Drawing from his knowledge of the behaviour of the insane, as well as his skill at deception, he makes a believable case to be admitted for psychiatric treatment. Police return to his apartment, and find numerous pieces of evidence, directly connecting him to Lori's disappearance, but as long as he's held in the hospital, they will hold off calling him a suspect until he's either released or Lori's body is found. Whichever happens first (my opinion is that Lori will be found in the landfill within the next day or two), the police will promptly take Mark into custody. He'll attempt an insanity defense, and the rest will be in the hands of the jury.

Now, if you've read all of this, I thank you for giving ear to all my speculation. I would love to be horribly wrong, and sincerely hope that in spite of all the deception and speculation, that Lori will be found alive and well. I think to truly believe that she's still alive, however, is being overly optimistic.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Grisly discoveries in Utah

Police have begun the use of cadaver dogs in their search for Lori Hacking, and are concentrating on a nearby landfill.

Meanwhile, seems Mark Hacking is destined to be more than a "person of interest".

Link to a story that details what was found in the couples' apartment by police.

In a television report, the "bloodstains" were not reported as fact, but a positive Luminol hit was confirmed.

This will take an interesting turn soon, in my estimation, as investigators looking into Mark's computers will probably reveal a reason besides Med School that he was moving to North Carolina, and I stand by my earlier prediction that Lori will be found wrapped in a mattress.

I sincerely wish this were headed for a different ending.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Definitive Irony

In tonight's news, there was an item that bears repeating. Seems there has been a specific terrorist threat surrounding the upcoming Democratic National Convention. The threat has the FBI on high alert, and they're taking it very seriously.

What's so interesting is that the press is the target of the threat. Now, I can understand that a strike at such a high-profile event would certainly get the world's attention. but for goodness' sake, the American Press has been some of the terrorists' most vocal allies! I think, however, that a strike against the press would achieve quite a lot. Consider that as soon as the smoke cleared, the folks inside the convention, fresh from their Farenheit 9-11 screening (sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, btw) can gloat over how dangerous a world George W. Bush has created.

Just a few tidbits . . .

Just a comparison . . .

Then: Mark was a "straight A" student in college
Now: He never graduated from college

Then: Mark had been accepted into Med school in South Carolina, the couple was soon to be moving.
Now: Mark never applied to Med school.

Then: Mark checked himself into the hospital because he was "incapacitated with grief"
Now: Mark was picked up by emergency workers who responded with police to find him running around naked at a nearby hotel. He was transported and admitted to the hospital. He had checked himself into the hotel, ironically, under an assumed name.

Then: A witness said she had seen Lori in the park.
Now: The same witness says she isn't sure.

Then: Mark called Lori's work, then called friends, then police to report Lori missing
Now: He did just that, in that order, but found time to go furniture shopping in the meantime.

Now: Mark denies, in a confrontation with his father, that he had anything to do with Lori's disappearance.
Later: ?????

Don't blink--you may miss something

Back in the earliest AP feed I could find (link here), the following statement:

Mark Hacking works the night shift at inpatient psychiatry and usually is sleeping when Lori Hacking goes running. She normally returns home about 6:30 a.m. to shower and get ready for work. "Then I usually drive her to work," he said.
On Monday, he woke up later in the morning and called Wells Fargo and learned she had not arrived for work.

So here is the timeline:

5:30 a.m. (approximate): Lori heads out for a jog. Note that her long-time jogging partner stated that Lori had plans that evening, and that, she assumed, was the reason she went running early that morning, instead after sunset when the two of them usually ran.
6:30 a.m.: usual time for Lori to arrive back at home, shower, and dress for work (Mark states he usually drove her to work.
Mark awakes to see that Lori isn't there, her clothes are undisturbed, her lunch still in the fridge. He calls Wells Fargo, finds that Lori isn't at work.
9:45 a.m.: Mark enters a furniture store, mattress-shopping
10:00 a.m.: Mark calls friends and family to tell them he can't find Lori.
10:23 a.m.: Mark's still out shopping, buys a mattress.
10:49 a.m.: Mark calls police to notify them his wife is missing.
Late Night: Mark observed/picked up running around naked in a hotel parking lot, 1/2 mile from the couple's home. He was "acting strangely" and wearing nothing but a pair of sandals.

Be patient with me . . . I'm pulling this together in a minute
The facts are:
1. Quite a bit of time lapsed between Lori's "usual" time to return from jogging and Mark's call to friends.
2. Mark apparently called those friends from the furniture store where he was shopping for a mattress.
3. Quite a bit more time passes between Mark calling friends and Mark calling the police.
4. Mark experiences a "breakdown" later that night that leaves him clad in sandals and nothing else, and running around a nearby hotel.
5. Lori didn't normally jog in the mornings.
6. Lori's "jogging buddy" knew from their conversations, that Lori was pregnant, and that the pregnancy wasn't planned, even though Lori & Mark didn't do anything preventative.
7. Most friends and family feel that Lori didn't know that Mark indeed had never finished college, her father making a statement that he was a straight "A" student.
8. Police have found pieces of the couple's old mattress discarded.

I now call your attention to the opening paragraphs of this post--detailing that Mark works the night shift at "inpatient psychiatry". This fellow works each night with the mentally disturbed. He knows considerably more than a common layperson about the symptoms that accompany dementia.

We can make a safe assumption that Mark and Lori didn't sleep on a bare box-spring on the night of the 18th, so between the two waking, and Mark calling the police at 10:49, the mattress had been somewhat destroyed (police found pieces of it) and discarded, and another mattress purchased. This from a couple who were planning to move soon--why replace a mattress when it's just one more thing to pack?

There's also a mention of Mark finding Lori's car when he went looking for her. He made a statement that he had run through her usual path twice, and no sign of her. But what about the car? Were her keys in it? Was it locked? If it were locked, did she leave her License or other ID there? In all, was there anything in her car that she usually took with her running? She was seen by one witness at the park that morning, but this witness has made no other statement, and no other witnesses have come forward.  I'd think that there would at least be one or two other joggers in the park before work.

There are so many questions that need to be asked--and answered--regarding this case. My personal feelings: Mark has everything to do with Lori's disappearance. He got rid of the mattress trying to cover evidence. He laid a two-prong defense by pulling the "running-around-naked" stunt. He knows enough (or so he thinks) about insanity to make a defense out of it, even if the evidence catches up to him. I don't think Lori ever made it to the park, that the witness was simply trying to get 15 minutes of fame, and that searching the park and surrounding area is a fruitless endeavor.

UPDATE: In a twist of irony, seems Mark was employed at the same inpatient psychiatric unit where he's now a patient. Also, current reports state that the police didn't actually find parts of the mattress, but rather confiscated the box spring when they conducted a search of Mark and Lori's apartment. The location of the mattress is still unknown, but my guess is that the mattress is wrapped around Lori's body somewhere.

More Questions for Mark Hacking

With a nod to Kevin at Wizbang:

This story indicates that Mark Hacking has indeed been hospitalized, because of being "incapacitated with grief" A more thorough write up here. Seems he was hospitalized after police were called to respond to a "disturbance" and arrived to find Mark running around naked at a hotel a few miles from the apartment where Mark and Lori lived.

I'm no criminal psychologist, but knowing something of the workings of the human mind, I would say this would be an atypical response to this particular situation. Mark Hacking is not responding the way that families of missing persons generally behave, in that most are intimately involved with the investigation and search, even if only trying to raise money to offer as reward. One would think that this level of "grief" would only come at such time that he knows his beloved to be dead. He may truly be innocent, but he's doing a remarkable job of drawing suspicion to himself here.

I am somewhat reminded of the Susan Smith case. An analysis by law enforcement comparing the statements of the two parents revealed that while the father referred to their children as if they were alive, she used the past tense when referring to them. Police believed that this indicated she knew the children were dead. As it happened she was indeed responsible for the deaths of the children.

Analysis of statements and actions by suspects and potential suspects is truly a valuable tool for law enforcement, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if more developments point to Mark Hacking in this case.

For more about the science of statement analysis, click here.

Update: Fox News reports that police investigators have found pieces of Mark & Lori's old mattress in a dumpster, the mattress which Mark was out shopping to replace 30 minutes before he called Police to report his wife's disappearance.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

No spin here . . .

Headlines and links from the MSNBC "Politics" section, beneath a story titled:
Success of Moore film has Republicans rattled

Poll: Kerry has Hispanic vote locked up
Dillard won't seek Illinois Senate seat
Kerry takes gang plan to Urban League
Kucinich to formally back Kerry
S.F. may let some non-citizens vote
Trippi: John Edwards' rotten luck
Watch 'Picking Our Presidents' on MSNBC
Kerry near Bush in post-primary spending
Ice cream mogul puts Bush in hot seat
Bush saying little about 2nd term plans
GOP plans Boston 'war room'
Jenna gives media a little razz
Measuring presidents via the economy
New poll smiles on Kerry
Dillard leaves Illinois Republicans hanging
Labor's front cracks as convention nears
Delegates, ticket differ on marriage
WP: Parties wage battle of databases
White House Derby: Kerry's to lose
Bush vs. Kerry at a glance
Washington Post: Bush vs. Kerry
Day-by-day schedule of Democratic convention
A quick look at the Democratic Convention
Boston: For Democrats, stars and bars
'Multiple layers' of convention security
Boston: The political past is everywhere
Delegates would pick Hillary in 2008
Labor's front cracks as convention nears

Ok . . . so their motto isn't "fair and balanced", but wouldn't you think that one of the leading web news sites in the U. S. would try just a little to mask their political preferences?

Also noticed that a poll by the Pew Research Center upon which MSNBC reports (New poll smiles on Kerry) states that the dems are "almost even with the GOP on which party is stronger on the issue of morality." Of course this is from a sampling (unknown locale) of 2,009 adults, 1,568 of which are actually registered voters. Do the math. Almost 25% of those polled aren't even registered to vote! How in the HELL can they claim a +/- 2.5% margin of error?

Obviously the claim of a media bias toward the Democratic party is just a construction of the VRWC.

The Kid Rock Experience

Got in early a.m. today from a Kid Rock concert. I'm not going to argue his "musical genius", but in an entertainment market dominated by image, this guy is pretty damn talented.

I really don't understand, though, why folks tend to want to fight at this type of event. Out of nearly 10,000 people at this (relatively small) coliseum, there's about a dozen asshats who insist on creating problems. I had to contend with one who was determined he needed to take a leak without losing his place near the stage. He was eventually convinced otherwise. Another couple guys decided they were big-and-bad-enough to run over any and everyone between them and the stage. They were proven sadly wrong. Security dropped the ball when they had their first opportunity to remove these  two dunces, so the next trip the bouncers made over the wall was to rescue them.

Anyway, with the exception of a few minor altercations, almost everyone was intent upon having a blast, and we did. I've seen very few entertainers who can work a crowd like Kid Rock, and although I don't have the benefit of seeing him in other venues, I got the impression that much of his show and set list was tailored to this particular concert. After all, it isn't every day you can hear him blasting out "I Feel Like Jackson, Mississippi" when he's actually on stage in JACKSON, MISSISSPPI.

Add to this mix an assortment of songs and pieces of songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, Led Zeppelin, Hank Williams, Jr., and even Waylon Jennings (theme from the Dukes of Hazzard, no less), and it's a show that no fan of southern-fried rock should miss. Even if you're not into Kid Rock's "hip-hop" side, it's a great show. He seems to be truly proud to be an American, unlike so many other entertainers of late.

Also, never hurts to throw in a quartet of bikini-clad dancing girls.

Hacking not accepted to med school

deseretnews.com | Did husband lie? Hacking not accepted to med school

Just caught this, even though it's several hours old now . . . It seems that Mark Hacking, the missing lady's husband, has lied to the media about the couple's immediate intentions for re-location to North Carolina.

Further, Fox News reports that Mark has gone out and bought himself a brand new mattress.

Apparently he's been reading drafts of Scott Peterson's upcoming book: How to Murder Your Wife, Be a Complete Idiot in the Cover-up, and Still Get Away With It (Foreward by O. J. Simpson)

Friday, July 16, 2004

Why Marriage?

I'm confused.
For years and years, we've been told that a certificate of marriage is optional, that the real issue is whether a couple truly loves each other, that folks should have the right to express their love without being bound by a state-sanctioned piece of paper.
Now the gay and lesbian communities are up in arms wanting the institution of marriage extended to their relationships. In England, they demand that civil unions aren't enough. Only full-fledged marriage certificates will do. What's going on?
Pretty simple to figure out. What will happen the first time a legally married male-male couple, both men in their 30s, applies to adopt a 6-year-old boy? The adoption agency will be forced to grant the adoption, providing all of their presently existing guidelines are met. Otherwise, they will be the target of a discrimination suit. As such, these two men will be in a position to teach this young, impressionable, boy the beauty of gay love, and introduce him to the pleasures of things sexual whenever they, as his parents, see fit.
I concede that a dangerous trend is to draft a constitutional amendment for current social issues, but I maintain that until there is a return to an honest interpretation of the United States Constitution by the Supreme Court (and the judicial branch in general), there may be no other viable resolution to such questions. I think this is one open-and-shut case of states rights (remember those?), and that the federal judiciary branch has no business ruling in this area.  If a state has particularly strong gay/lesbian demographics, let them decide by popular vote to allow such marriages, but at the same time, don't force other states to recognize those licenses, against their own laws.
Is this a personal issue? No, it's at the center of Constitutional law, and it must be addressed. I think the debate about the morality of homosexual relationships is a futile one, as most religions of the world flatly condemn those actions as immoral. At the same time, consider that while those who support these marriages scream that the government shouldn't dictate who someone loves, by insisting upon government licensing and sanctioning of these "loving relationships", they themselves have thrown the issue into the political arena. This is not the equivalent of sodomy laws, but rather a challenge to the rights of state governments.
The question of same-sex marriages is, in that light, much less complex than we're told in the media. The "sanctity of marriage" is only a secondary issue here. The real question lies in how much power the federal judiciary wields over states in issues not explicitly addressed in our constitution.

A wonderful vacation, and a rant to boot...

My apologies for taking so much time off from my newly-conceived blog, but the family and I were vacationing in Florida for a few days.
We had a great time, enjoying the sights and sounds of the oceans, both Gulf beaches and Atlantic, and I even had an opportunity to have an extended conversation with a resident there that covered everything from hurricaines to politics.
One item of note: Don't go through the south part of Tallahassee on 319, headed down towards Apalachicola, lots of construction, really quirky traffic signals (all other lanes got 2 or 3 green lights before mine!) and lots and lots of apparently confused drivers.
I suppose my only real gripe over my vacation is the anti-smoking law Florida passed awhile back that bans smoking in all restaurants. I suppose most of the smokers in the state just tolerate the ordinance, being good little citizens, and enjoy their smokes outside, but this is an issue I really have a problem with. I realize the "one man's rights end where another's begin" argument is the crux of the issue, but isn't it far past time we re-evaluated what "rights" really exist and which are constructions of society?
I argue that an individual has no more "right" to not smell cigarette smoke than he has the "right" not to smell skunks, loud perfume, or cooking cabbage. There's no evidence that occasional environmental exposure to smoke is detrimental to one's health. What has society regressed into when personal preferences towards one scent or another is the subject of legislation? I, for one, have had my meal "experience" in a nice (and relatively expensive)restaurant at least partially spoiled by an unruly child at another table. Perhaps a ban on children under 15 in any restaurant where entree prices are above $15.00 should be legislated. Such absurdity is simply an extrapolation of the "smoking ban" logic.
The other side to this coin, of course, is the rights of business owners to conduct business as they see fit, not be subject to more governmental regulation and scrutiny. If cigarette smoke is so patently offensive, why do so many people choose "first available" when asked in which section they would like to be seated? Furthermore, one would assume that if such a huge segment of the population is against smoking in public, venues which allowed smoking indoors would eventually be forced to honor the public's wishes and become voluntarily smoke-free. This would never happen, though, and the smoke-haters know this, so they resort to pushing through legislation, with much fanfare, deemed to be in the interest of "public health", and smokers, in the name of being polite, bow to their demands.
My solution: smokers should start lighting up anywhere they wish, in the name of peaceful protest. Free expression is still a part of the constitution, even though it's being eroded every day. A challenge to such totalitarian policies is long overdue, and this just may be the perfect first volley in the bloodless revolution to return America to its roots of personal liberties guaranteed by our Constitution.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Overnight Poll Shows Surge for Ticket

Wednesday, July 7, 2004
A new poll conducted for MSNBC by Princeton Survey Research showed that the Democratic ticket has gotten a big boost from Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his VP candidate.
Respondents were asked which duo they would choose were the election today - Bush/Cheney, Kerry/Edwards or Nader/Camajo.

MSNBC reports that 49 percent choose the Democrats against 41 percent for the incumbents.

Interestingly, 6 percent declined to answer the question, leading one to believe that a large chunk of voters still are unsure or undecided.

Ralph Nader and Peter Camajo got 4 percent.

Kerry and Edwards are the first serving senators to appear on the same election ticket since 1972, when Democratic Senators George McGovern of South Dakota and Thomas Eagleton of Missouri teamed up for the Democratic ticket.

Gee, I would have never seen this coming . . . the ticket actually gained a couple of points in polls when it was a (gasp) complete ticket?

Nevermind that Wall Street fell in the wake of the Democratic ticket's surge.

I still say that Kerry's in deep trouble to not have a more significant lead at this time, and I don't think Edwards is enough of a personality counter-balance to pull this one off.

Jumping In . . .

Well, here goes . . .

After a minor blog presence (thanks, Kevin) at Wizbang! I have decided to step out on my own into the blog whirlwind.

A few loose rules:

1) Be nice! Nobody enjoys a debate that resorts to personal attacks and name-calling.

2) Please keep profanity to a minimum. My opinion is that excessive use of such language displays a lack of intelligence and creativity.

3) Keep on topic. I realize that many times a post lends itself to more than just the main issue, but try to stay close to home.

I reserve the right to delete posts that grossly violate the guidelines above, but I pledge not to be the blog-nazi here. This is a forum for open debate.

And so it starts . . .

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