SALT LAKE CITY – The father of the man whose wife vanished this week, allegedly as she went out for a jog, said Friday that his son looked him in the eye and denied having anything to do with the disappearance.
Hundreds of people searched Friday for 37-year-old Lori Hacking (search), even as questions grew about Mark Hacking's actions the morning his wife was reported missing.
Douglas Hacking said he approached his son — 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."
Douglas Hacking confirmed that his son was involved in an incident early Tuesday morning that led to his medication and hospitalization, just hours after his wife disappeared.
Speculation about Mark Hacking's (search) credibility was fueled by news that he was at a furniture store buying a mattress shortly before he alerted police about the disappearance.
"I'm sorry that all the attention directed toward our son Mark has hindered our efforts to find Lori," Douglas Hacking said.
At some point late Monday or early Tuesday, police got a disturbance call involving Mark Hacking from a hotel. Detective Dwayne Baird said the call became a medical response.
Mark Hacking, 28, has not appeared publicly since the day his wife disappeared.
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 had 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. "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.
Baird confirmed that minutes before Mark Hacking called police to report his wife missing, he was buying a new mattress.
Police removed a number of items from the couple's apartment Monday, but have declined to say what was taken. Reporters saw paper bags, boxes and a box spring being removed.
Police also impounded a large trash bin from behind the apartment complex and took a swab Friday 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.
Also Friday, the only reported witness to see Lori Hacking on the morning she disappeared backtracked, telling KSL NewsRadio she no longer thinks the woman she saw stretching at a city park was the missing jogger.
Despite his hospitalization, Hacking has been available to investigators, Baird said.