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 people, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Alonso Machain, were also separately convicted of the killings. 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 Gulf of California. In 2004, they decided to sell their yacht and set up home in Newport Harbor, to be closer to their grandchild. Jackie (née O'Neill) had helped raise Tom's sons 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 meet up. The Hawks 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
John Julius Jacobson, Jr.
August 12, 1979
|Conviction(s)||First degree murder|
Skylar Julius Deleon (born John Julius Jacobson, Jr.) is an American former child actor. 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 Hawkses' bank account from Mexico. The family was notified and filed a missing-persons report with the Carlsbad police department.
On November 29, 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 Hawkses 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 Hawkses were killed over a drug deal gone bad.
Authorities alleged that during a sea trial of the boat 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. She is currently housed at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, California.
While awaiting trial in jail, Skylar 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 Hawkses' 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 with special circumstances for financial gain and multiple victims and on November 6, 2008, the jury rendered a death verdict. 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. He is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
On February 19, 2009, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was found guilty on two counts of first degree murder after fewer than three hours of jury deliberation. He was sentenced to death on May 1, 2009. Like Deleon, Kennedy is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Alonso Machain, after testifying against Deleon, Henderson, and Kennedy, pleaded 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 up for parole until 2023. He is currently serving his sentence at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California.
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 9), 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 "Dark Voyage" covers this crime.
- The Demons in the City of Angels episode Child Actor Killer covers the case.
- This case is also covered in the podcast "Killafornia Dreaming: True Crime Tales from the Golden State; Episode 14, The Tale of Lost at Sea" - Google Play Podcasts
- This case is briefly mentioned in the Podcast "Raised by TV" hosted by comedians Lauren Lapkus and Jon Gabrus in the episode "Mt. Crushmore".
- This case is covered on the TV show Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen, Season 2, Episode 165, "The Final Voyage"
- This case is mentioned in the podcast "My Favorite Murder" in the Episode 169, "This Old Sandwich"
- This case was investigated on ABC 20/20 episode “Overboard”
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- "Power Ranger Skylar DeLeon claims he murdered for a sex change operation". The Inquisitr News. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- Jim Avila, Greg Fisher, Christina Caron, and Kimi Culpjim Avila via 20/20 (6 February 2009). "Yacht Murderer Wanted Sexual Reassignment Surgery". ABC News. Retrieved 9 September 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Anna Glezer, MD, Dale E. McNiel, and Renée L. Binder, MD (2013). "Transgendered and Incarcerated: A Review of the Literature, Current Policies and Laws, and Ethics" (PDF). Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. Retrieved September 9, 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Welborn, Larry (2008-09-22). "Jury selection under way in yacht murder case". Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
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- 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.
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