Missing Couple Is Maritime Mystery

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," December 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: We want to know where are Tom and Jackie Hawks.

One month ago tonight, the Newport Beach (search) couple sold the yacht they had been living on for $400,000. They reportedly planned to buy a second home in Mexico with the money, but they were never heard from again. And tonight, there's no sign of the couple, the cash or their car. Their son is hoping for any clues.


RYAN HAWKS, MISSING COUPLE'S SON: I think something's wrong. I think there's a reasonable explanation for it. And you know, our first priority and goal is to find their whereabouts and also their car, their 1998 silver Honda CRV — you know, that will tell us a lot — and some of their personal belongings. But we, the family and friends, we want to know — you know, we want to know their health and safety. We want to know that they're OK.


VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us from Irvine, California is Marisa O'Neil, a reporter for The Daily Pilot. Welcome. And tell me, when was the last time this couple was seen?

MARISA O'NEAL, DAILY PILOT REPORTER: The last time that friends and family report having heard from them was on or about November 15. I spoke with one of Jackie Hawks' best friends, who spoke with her on the 14th, who said that she was going to meeting with buyers the next day, prospective buyers.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me about this couple.

O'NEIL: Well, they'd had been living on their boat. It's a 55-foot cabin cruiser, the Well Deserved, in Newport harbor. They had a home in Prescott, Arizona. They had a brand-new grandson living in Prescott, who'd been born, I believe, about four months ago. And they just liked the cruising lifestyle, from what everybody's told me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any indication they were having any financial problems or any personal problems that might them want to just take off?

O'NEIL: It doesn't seem so. They seemed to be really close to their friends and family. I spoke with one of her best friends in Arizona, who handles their finances. She thought it was kind of odd that it was a cash transaction. She thought that they would have the money wired to one of their accounts.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. On November 15 was the last that they were seen or heard from. Did they indicate, either one of them, in the conversation, who they intended to meet with the following day?

O'NEIL: They had said it was going to be a young couple, and that was all the information that they knew of.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. They're missing. Is the boat missing?

O'NEIL: The boat is still there in the harbor. It is in police custody, but it's still there at its mooring. The moorings are sort of leased from the city on an annual basis, so it's still at the same mooring.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has the boat, if you know, been searched to see whether their personal items are in it or whether it looked like somebody had packed up and left?

O'NEIL: That would probably be a question for Sergeant Shulman, but it's my understanding that some of their personal possessions are still on the boat.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. There's some young man who at least was going to buy the boat, and there's some level of interest in talking to him. Who is he?

O'NEIL: We've not been told anything about the buyers of the boat, at this point. I understand the police have been talking to the buyers, and they've been cooperative. But beyond that, we don't know anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you talk to anyone who might have lived near where they were doing this live-aboard on the boat to find out what kind of neighbor they were on the boat?

O'NEIL: It's hard to say because there's a lot of boats there and a few people living on board their boats. They'd have to row a dingy to shore. And so it's kind of a transient lifestyle going from the boat to the shoreline. I've talked to people in a couple shops who remember them coming in, remember Tom Hawks as being a really strapping, fit kind of guy for his age, being in his late 50s. But, you know, they see a lot of people. It's a beach town. They don't specifically remember them in a lot of the shops.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Thank you very much, Marisa.

Joining us from Irvine, California, is Sergeant Steve Shulman of the Newport Beach police. Welcome, Sergeant.


VAN SUSTEREN: Sergeant, is this a missing persons case, or is this likely to be people wandering off or foul play? How do you look at this?

SHULMAN: Well, as time goes on, it becomes more suspicious. There's no question about that, because from everything we've heard, these people are in contact with their family on a pretty regular basis. So for them to have been missing for now 30 days, it's becoming more suspicious and we're becoming more concerned.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you looked to see whether or not they've used credit cards or made any sort of bank transactions, used cell phones, anything like that?

SHULMAN: Actually, we have. We've tried to track all of that, and for about a month now, since the boat's sale, there has been no activity, including the alleged cash that was supposed to have been paid to them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. They were last seen on November 15, and they were going to try to sell this boat on or about the 15th. I assume they were going to do a sea trial with the boat. Do you have any information that they did that with any prospective buyers?

SHULMAN: It's my understanding that the boat did go out with a buyer and the boat did return to the mooring. That's as described by the buyer.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Did the buyer leave the boat? Is he then saying he left the boat alone, or did he leave the boat with the couple?

SHULMAN: The boat was moored and they were back on land, from all that we can determine at this particular point.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were they living anyplace else but on the boat at that time?

SHULMAN: No. To the best of our knowledge, at least what I've been told so far, is once they had left the boat, they didn't have a permanent residence, though they did have some accommodations, I believe, because they had family in the San Diego-Prescott area and visited San Carlos, Mexico, a lot.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was the boat actually sold on the 16th?

SHULMAN: We believe it was probably sold, according to the buyer, on the 15th.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any documentation to support a sale and signatures?

SHULMAN: There's some documentation that detectives are going through to verify its authenticity and to find out if everything that the buyer is telling detectives is accurate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have the police been on this boat?

SHULMAN: Yes, the police have been on the boat. They've examined it. They've done forensics on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you're going to sell a boat, you're going to take your personal items. You're going to leave the life preservers and I suppose the lifeboat and things like that, but you don't leave your personal items. Were those removed from the boat?

SHULMAN: Well, there were some items that were taken from the boat by our detectives that belonged to the couple. I'm not at liberty to go into what those are and for what reason they took them. But it's clearly to verify information and to try to track down the couple.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of the forensics exam of the boat, anything to indicate that it's a crime scene?


VAN SUSTEREN: No blood? No broken tables? The boat wasn't out of order.

SHULMAN: No. If we found information that made us believe it was a crime scene, we would report it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the buyer cooperating with you?

SHULMAN: The buyer is cooperating with us so far. And he's been interviewed extensively. And our detectives now have the task of verifying information that he's provided, and that's what they're doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So it's fair to say tonight that you're not satisfied with his answers or you're not dissatisfied. You're still investigating him, like you would anybody.

SHULMAN: I think that's accurate. Right now, we don't know if we have a crime. These are people who are missing. We don't think they're going to show up coming off a cruise because that's not their style, or having gone on an extended vacation without talking to friends. But we're gathering information as if they may not return because it's very difficult to go back afterwards.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about a car?

SHULMAN: They have a car. They have a 1998 Honda CRV. It's silver in color, and it was last seen to have Arizona license plates on it, and I believe you have that to display. But I'll tell you the license plate is 774CPE. And again, those are Arizona plates.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So we did put that up on the screen, in case anybody has seen that car or will see it. Sergeant, thank you and good luck.

We're going to have more on this developing mystery Thursday night.

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