Murder of Thomas and Jackie Hawks

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Thomas and Jackie Hawks were a couple from Prescott, Arizona, United States, who were murdered in 2004. In April 2009, Skylar Julius Deleon, Jennifer Henderson, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy were convicted of charges relating to their murders. Deleon and Kennedy were sentenced to death, while Henderson was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without parole. A fourth person, Alonso Machain, accepted a plea bargain after testifying for the prosecution in the trials of Deleon, Henderson, and Kennedy. He was sentenced to 20 years and 4 months in prison.[1][2][3]

Disappearance[edit]

Thomas Hawks was a retired probation officer and bodybuilder. He and his second wife Jackie (formerly of Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio), owned a 55-foot yacht, the Well Deserved, which they treated as their permanent home and on which they sailed for two years around the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. In 2004, they decided to sell their yacht and set up home in Newport Harbor, to be closer to the child of Mr. Hawks' son from his first marriage.[1] Jackie (née O'Neill) had helped raise the boys since their early teens, and considered the new baby her grandson.[4]

Their advertisement of the sale of the yacht was answered in November by Skylar Deleon. The couple was initially cautious of Deleon, but they became more receptive when he brought his then-pregnant wife Jennifer and their other child to a meeting.[5] The Hawkses were last seen alive on the morning of November 15, 2004, heading out of the harbor. The yacht returned, but they did not.[1] Their bodies have not been found.[6]

Perpetrators[edit]

Skylar Julius Deleon
Born (1979-08-12) August 12, 1979 (age 35)
Sun Valley, California, US
Occupation Former actor
Criminal penalty
Death sentence
Criminal status Incarcerated
Conviction(s) First degree murder

Skylar Julius Deleon (born John Julius Jacobson, Jr.[7][8]) is a former American child actor.[9] The son of John Jacobson, Sr., a violent convicted drug dealer, and Lynette Birchette, a drug-addicted teenage runaway who had been abused as a child, Deleon began acting in small parts in commercials as a child. At age 14, he appeared in the series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as an uncredited extra in the episode "Second Chance". As an adult, Deleon struggled to remember lines, and his career faltered as a result. At age 20, he joined the United States Marine Corps, but he went on Unauthorized Absence (UA) fifteen days later.[10][11] He was later given an other than honorable discharge.[11][12]

Investigation[edit]

Police inquired into the couple's disappearance. On November 26, 2004, an attempt was made to access the Hawks' bank account from Mexico. The family was notified and filed a missing person report with the Carlsbad police department.[1]

On November 29, 2004, the police interviewed Skylar Deleon. He told them that he bought the boat from the Hawkses and showed them proof-of-purchase documents. He stated to police that the Hawks' left in their car with his money, denied being in their car, and named Alonso Machain (a former correctional officer whom Deleon met while in jail for burglary) as witness to the purchase. The reason that he bought the boat, he claimed, was that he intended to launder money related to an armed burglary in 2002 for which he had been convicted.[1][6]

In March 2005, Machain confessed to the crime and was arrested in connection with the couple's disappearance, along with Deleon, Deleon's wife Jennifer, and Kennedy. Kennedy pleaded not guilty, and Skylar Deleon initially maintained his innocence as well, claiming that he was not present at the time and speculating that the couple were killed over a drug deal gone bad.[6][13]

Trials[edit]

Authorities alleged that during a sea trial in Newport Beach Harbor a few days after meeting the Hawkses, Deleon and his accomplices — Alonso Machain and John Kennedy — bound and gagged the couple and threw them overboard, tied to the yacht's anchor.[5][14] Deleon allegedly masterminded the plan to kill the couple for financial gain and enlisted Kennedy (who once served time for attempted murder) and Machain to help.[6][15][16]

Deleon's wife, Jennifer, was found guilty on two counts of first degree murder on November 17, 2006, after four hours of jury deliberation. In October 2007, Jennifer Deleon (now calling herself Jennifer Henderson, since her divorce from Skylar Deleon) was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.[17]

While awaiting trial in jail, Deleon was also charged with soliciting another inmate to murder his father and cousin. He was also accused of killing John Jarvi, a resident of Anaheim who was found dead in Mexico in 2003. Deleon's father and cousin (who was charged as an accessory to the Jarvi murder) are considered "important witnesses" in both murder cases.[16] On March 13, 2008, Deleon partially severed his penis with a razor blade while being held in jail.[18] After receiving medical attention, he was returned to jail the following day.[19] In an interview with ABC's 20/20, Deleon indicated that he attempted to cut off his penis because he wanted to be a woman. Defense lawyers claimed that Deleon's need for money to finance a sex-change operation was the motivation for the Hawks' murders.[20]

On September 22, 2008, jury selection began in the case against Skylar Deleon.[21] In a consolidated case, DeLeon was jointly tried for the murders of Thomas and Jackie Hawks as well as the murder of John Jarvi. Despite Deleon's earlier protestations of innocence, once his trial began, Deleon's attorney conceded that Deleon had indeed committed all three murders. The attorney said that he had taken the case to trial only to argue to a jury that Deleon should not be sentenced to death.[22] On October 20, Deleon was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances for financial gain and multiple victims,[9] and on November 6, 2008, the jury returned a verdict of death.[23] Sentencing was originally scheduled for January 16, 2009,[24] but was then rescheduled to March 20 on request by Deleon's attorney.[25] On March 13, it was announced that sentencing would again be rescheduled, to April 10, so that the family of the victims could attend.[26] On April 10, 2009, Deleon was sentenced to death by Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel.[27]

In the media[edit]

  • This case was investigated on TV by Aphrodite Jones in her Investigation Discovery documentary TV series True Crime with Aphrodite Jones (Season 1, episode 1), and would also be explored on the same network on two other programs: Wicked Attraction (episode "Calm Before the Storm") and Deadly Sins (episode "I'd Kill For A Sex Change").
  • This case is referred to in a segment of the "Caffeine-Induced Aneurysm" episode of Robot Chicken.
  • This case was investigated on TV on Oxygen on the TV Show Snapped: Killer Couples, a spin off of Snapped.
  • The participation of Skylar on the Power Rangers series make some people believe during a time he was an important actor on the series and even believe he become a Ranger. Due to that, in the internet some people call him after his execution "The Ranger who become a murder". The confussion later disapeaers.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Christine Hanley (2008-10-08). "Defense in yacht killings says his client did it". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ Larry Welborn (2009-01-05). "Conspirator Kennedy gets death sentence in yacht murders". The Orange County Register. 
  3. ^ Larry Welborn (2009-06-15). "Final defendant in yacht-murder case pleads guilty". The Orange County Register. 
  4. ^ http://www.cbs.com/shows/48_hours/video/1520417861/dark-voyage
  5. ^ a b Hanley, Christine (2008-10-08). "Skylar Deleon goes on trial in killing of yacht owners". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  6. ^ a b c d Wagner, Dennis (2007-04-15). "Prescott couple took fatal voyage". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  7. ^ Rackauckas, Tony (2006-07-26). "Long Beach man charged with soliciting the murder of his own father and another witness while in jail on two murder cases". Orange County District Attorney (press release). Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  8. ^ "Skylar Deleon 'Power Ranger' Yacht Killing Case Underway". au.ibtimes.com (International Business Times). 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  9. ^ a b "Man convicted of killing couple thrown off yacht". The Washington Post. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2008-10-20. [dead link]
  10. ^ Dirmann, Tina (2008). Vanished at Sea: The True Story of a Child TV Actor and Double Murder. Macmillan. p. 6. ISBN 0-312-94197-8. 
  11. ^ a b Jeff Gottlieb (2005-05-23). "What Happened to Tom and Jackie Hawks?; A couple sold their yacht in November and drove off, says the supposed buyer — and murder suspect. They haven't been seen since.". Los Angeles Times. pp. B.1. 
  12. ^ Hanley, Christine (2007-05-28). "'He did it. I know he did it,' man says of son". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-10-07. [dead link]
  13. ^ Ben Fox (2005-03-04). "Police arrest two more in deaths of Arizona couple off Newport Beach". Associated Press. 
  14. ^ "'Power Ranger' faces death penalty in yacht killings.". CNN.com. 2007-10-07. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Depths of Evil". timespublications.com. November 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  16. ^ a b Vane, Lauren (2006-08-04). "Deleon pleads not guilty to murder plot". dailypilot.com. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  17. ^ "California Mother Convicted in Plot to Kill Couple for Yacht Sentenced to Life Terms". Fox News. 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  18. ^ "Man awaiting trial tries to 'saw off' his penis". Long Beach Press Telegram. July 2008. Retrieved July 10, 2008. 
  19. ^ Reyes, David (2008-07-12). "Accused killer attempts to sever own penis in O.C. jail". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  20. ^ Power Ranger Skylar DeLeon claims he murdered for a sex change operation
  21. ^ Welborn, Larry (2008-09-22). "Jury selection under way in yacht murder case". Orange County Register. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  22. ^ "Ex-actor guilty of yacht killings, defense says". CNN.com. 2008-10-08. [dead link]
  23. ^ Tran, My-Thuan (2008-11-06). "Death sentence in murder of yacht owners". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  24. ^ "Jury recommends death penalty in yacht killings". CNN.com. November 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07. [dead link]
  25. ^ Serna, Joseph (January 16, 2009). "Sentencing delayed for area couple’s killer". dailypilot.com. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  26. ^ Serna, Joseph (March 13, 2009). "Deleon to wait for his fate". dailypilot.com. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  27. ^ "Skylar Deleon gets death sentence in Newport Beach yacht murders". latimes.com. April 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 

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