Murder of Thomas and Jackie Hawks
Thomas and Jackie Hawks were a couple from Prescott, Arizona, United States, who were murdered in 2004. In April 2009, Skylar Julius Deleon and Jennifer Henderson were convicted of charges relating to their murders. Deleon was sentenced to death while Henderson was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without parole.
Two other persons, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Alonso Machain, were also separately convicted of the killing. Kennedy was sentenced to death while 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.
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 to Dixie Hendry. Jackie (née O'Neill) had helped raise the boys since their early teens, and considered the new baby her grandson.
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. 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. Their bodies have not been found.
|Skylar Julius Deleon|
|Born||John Julius Jacobson, Jr.
August 12, 1979
Sun Valley, California, US
|Criminal penalty||Death sentence|
|Conviction(s)||First degree murder|
Skylar Julius Deleon (born John Julius Jacobson, Jr.) is an American former child actor. 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. He was later given an other than honorable discharge.
- Jennifer Henderson, wife of Deleon.
- Alonso Machain, former Seal Beach correctional officer who met Deleon while Deleon was serving time in prison for burglary.
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Insane Crips gang member in Long Beach and former youth pastor, ex-convict for attempted murder, recruited the same day of the murder.
- Myron Sandora Gardner, Sr., former Insane Crips gang member and ex-convict for involuntary manslaughter, who met Deleon at work after Deleon's release from prison, declined to participate in the crime but introduced Deleon to Kennedy.
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.
On November 29, 2004, the police interviewed Skylar Deleon. He told them that he bought the boat from the Hawks 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 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.
In March, 2005, after initially fleeing to Mexico and then returning, Machain confessed to the crime. He was arrested in connection with the couple's disappearance along with Deleon and Deleon's wife Jennifer. Skylar Deleon initially maintained his innocence claiming that he was not present at the time and speculating that the couple were killed over a drug deal gone bad.
Authorities alleged that during a sea trial in Newport Beach Harbor a few days after meeting the Hawks, Deleon and his accomplices — Alonso Machain and John Fitzgerald Kennedy — bound and gagged the couple and threw them overboard, tied to the yacht's anchor. Deleon allegedly masterminded the plan to kill the couple for financial gain and enlisted Machain to help.
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.
While awaiting trial in jail, Deleon was also charged with soliciting another inmate to murder his abusive father and his 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. On March 13, 2008, Deleon partially severed his penis with a razor blade while being held in jail. After receiving medical attention, he was returned to jail the following day. 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.
On September 22, 2008, jury selection began in the case against Skylar Deleon. 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. On October 20, Deleon was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances for financial gain and multiple victims, and on November 6, 2008, the jury returned a verdict of death. Sentencing was originally scheduled for January 16, 2009, but was then rescheduled to March 20 on request by Deleon's attorney. On March 13, it was announced that sentencing would again be rescheduled, to April 10, so that the family of the victims could attend. On April 10, 2009, Deleon was sentenced to death by Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, maintaining his innocence, was found guilty and on May 1, 2009, sentenced to death.
Alonso Machain, after testifying against Deleon, Henderson, and Kennedy, pled guilty to two counts each of voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, and robbery. On June 15, 2009, he was sentenced to 20 years, 4 months. He likely will not be paroled until 2023.
Murder charges against Myron Sandora Gardner, Sr. were dropped after he testified in Kennedy's trial.
In the media
- 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 48 Hours episode "Hawkses Family Case" covers this crime.
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- Larry Welborn (2009-06-15). "Final defendant in yacht-murder case pleads guilty". The Orange County Register.
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- Wagner, Dennis (2007-04-15). "Prescott couple took fatal voyage". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- 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.
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- Reyes, David (2008-07-12). "Accused killer attempts to sever own penis in O.C. jail". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- Power Ranger Skylar DeLeon claims he murdered for a sex change operation
- Welborn, Larry (2008-09-22). "Jury selection under way in yacht murder case". Orange County Register. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
- "Ex-actor guilty of yacht killings, defense says". CNN.com. 2008-10-08.[dead link]
- Tran, My-Thuan (2008-11-06). "Death sentence in murder of yacht owners". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
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- Serna, Joseph (January 16, 2009). "Sentencing delayed for area couple’s killer". dailypilot.com. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
- Serna, Joseph (March 13, 2009). "Deleon to wait for his fate". dailypilot.com. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- "Skylar Deleon gets death sentence in Newport Beach yacht murders". latimes.com. April 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- Caitlin Rother (2011). Dead Reckoning. Kensington. ISBN 0-7860-2217-5.
- Tina Dirmann (2008). Vanished at Sea. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-94197-8.
- Frank Mickadeit (2005-08-15). "Yacht murder case looks like true-crime sequel". Orange County Register Communications.[dead link]