Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Gruesome Yacht Murder Case of Thomas and Jackie Hawks

Following the Phone Calls

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Byington had another thing in his favor: both Jennifer and Skylar were avid cell phone users. He retrieved their records and was able to track Skylar's whereabouts and contacts on various days, piecing together a blueprint for murder.

Skylar's day began at 6:25 a.m. on the 6th, when he called Machain and then called again three minutes later. At 6:51 a.m. Skylar called Jennifer from Newport Beach, where the Hawks' yacht was docked. Authorities can determine where calls originate because each is logged at specific transmitting towers.

Skylar then called Thomas Hawks at 9:30 a.m., and Jennifer called Skylar at 9:45 a.m. They called each other five more times up until 1:31 p.m. when Skylar was back in Long Beach.

Myron Gardner
Myron Gardner

Then, the day of the murders, Skylar and Jennifer called each other 13 times coinciding with crucial events on the yacht, according to the prosecution. "He gets on the boat, he calls her. He ties [the Hawkses] up, he calls her," said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy.

Indeed, the phone log shows Skylar calling Jennifer at 2:56 p.m. and Thomas Hawks making his last phone call at 4:06 p.m. At 4:21 p.m. the yacht was put on auto pilot, which was registered with a global positioning device. Machain testified that the couple was overpowered around 4 p.m., which would coincide with a phone call Skylar made to Jennifer at 4:26 p.m. The couple called each other five more times up until 6:47 p.m.

In all, the couple had a total of 27 calls logged on their phones during the day and a half surrounding the murders. Skylar didn't get home until after 1:30 a.m.

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