Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Gruesome Yacht Murder Case of Thomas and Jackie Hawks

Closing In

The Hawks' car
The Hawks' car

Byington received a break on Dec. 16. The Hawks' car had been located in Ensenada, Mexico. The people who had the car said Skylar gave it to them on Nov. 26. The pieces were starting to come together, but time was not a friend. Byington knew Skylar would eventually disappear, so he decided to arrest him on suspicion of money laundering.

In an interview with the notary public Kay Harris, Byington learned that the notarization was false and had actually occurred in a hotel room. Harris said she had been paid $2,000 to backdate the bill of sale. She had met the Deleons through Adam Rohrig, who used to work with Skylar at a dive shop. Byington later learned from Rohrig that Skylar had asked him several times before the Hawkses disappeared for help in disposing of bodies in the ocean. Rohrig had refused.

Alonso Machain
Alonso Machain

Skylar's friend Alonso Machain began a series of conversations with police. He worked as a jailer at the Seal Beach City Jail in Orange County and had met Skylar while Skylar was serving time for his armed burglary conviction. Machain backed up Skylar's story of purchasing the boat and said he watched the Hawkses drive away.

But eventually Machain began to crack. He decided to cooperate with police to avoid being charged with a crime subject to the death penalty. He detailed how Skylar recruited him to kill the Hawkses, promising a big payoff. They bought stun guns and handcuffs and took a dry run on Nov. 6, but Thomas was suspicious and wanted to meet Jennifer. Plus, he appeared to be a pretty strong guy, and the two men had doubts whether they could overpower him.

Jennifer was brought down to meet the Hawkses on Nov. 9. Then on the 15th, along with Crips gang member John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Skylar was able to seize the boat. Kennedy had a rap sheet that included an attempted murder conviction in 1988. A fourth man, Myron Gardner, had introduced Kennedy to Skylar, according to Machain.

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