Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Gruesome Yacht Murder Case of Thomas and Jackie Hawks

A Terrifying Afternoon

The yacht, Well Deserved
The yacht, Well Deserved

Once the yacht was well out to sea, it didn't take long for the idyllic cruise to turn ugly. While Jackie was on deck with Machain, Thomas was lured below to the master stateroom by Skylar and Kennedy. With the element of surprise on their side, Skylar and Kennedy began punching Thomas and using a stun gun on him. Incapacitating Thomas was no easy feat — Thomas may have been 57-years-old, but he was a former competitive bodybuilder and wrestler who prided himself on staying in great shape.

Jackie, 47, was overpowered by Machain and brought below deck to join her husband. She cried, "We trusted you! How could you do this? You brought your wife and baby on board!" She pleaded, "I don't want to die! I have a new grandchild in Arizona. I want to see him."

Sympathy was not forthcoming. The couple was handcuffed with their arms behind their backs, and duct tape was placed over their eyes and mouths. Thomas said nothing, Jackie sobbed through her tape.

Thomas was a former military police officer, firefighter and probation officer. He had no illusions that the gang would let them live: if they were let off the ship they could identify their captors. "He knew they were going to die and he did the best he could to comfort her," said Newport Beach police Sgt. Dave Byington. "He would reach over with a finger and stroke her hand."

It was an excruciating two hours that they sat there, as the vessel neared Catalina Island 30 miles offshore. Then they were brought on deck, and the tape was peeled back so each of them could see out of one eye. Thomas and Jackie were ordered to sign a bill of sale for the yacht, a power of attorney document, and to provide the passwords to their bank accounts. For cooperating they would be dropped off on a passing boat or a dock somewhere in Mexico, the thieves told them.

Thomas and Jackie complied, having no other option.

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