08 June 2005


Adam has a very thoughtful post at Times and Seasons about our inability at times to control our instincts. This isn't a pleasant thought. We'd like to think that we can control ourselves, but I do think there are times that instinct takes over. I think sometimes this is a sin, but sometimes it isn't. As always, the Lord knows the intents of our hearts.

I have been thinking a lot about my friend Mark Hacking. As some of you know, Mark murdered his wife, Lori, last summer. Last December, I wrote about some of the things that happened. Since then, Mark has pleaded guilty to the murder and been sentenced to prison. (By the way, Mark's mother said that he only pleaded innocent earlier for some technical legal reasons. He always planned to plead guilty to end the process as quickly as possible.)

Mark's descent apparently started with lies. Lies to his wife about attending school. Lies to his mother-in-law. Lies about his mission. Lies to his family about graduating from school and starting medical school. I don't know how many lies he told. The SLC police chief at one point said that he couldn't think of anything that Mark hadn't lied about.

It seems that those lies became instinctive at some point- there were so many that lies were the only way to live. But he chose to start down that path that lead him to a loss of control over his life. Mark seems to have gotten to a point that he did not have control over his own life. This doesn't excuse him in any way. Mark's choices caused him to lose control.

If Mark did start to lie because he wanted people to think he was better/smarter/more righteous/more interesting that he really was, I hope he has learned that his family's love for him is unconditional. Even now, even with all the awful things they know about him, his parents love him. I wish he could have realized that many years ago. Maybe, just maybe, he could have stopped all this before an innocent life was taken.

I wish that the scriptures were clearer about the fate of murders. Maybe it's impossible to be clear. Maybe, as in every case, but in a murder's case especially, the intents of the heart are what make the difference.


  1. I appreciated this post and wanted to comment, but I feel a little at a loss for words.

    I think intent has to make the difference, and I'm glad that I am not the one who has to discern intent.

  2. I, too, feel a little at a loss. I don't want to offend you, but I feel such loathing for Mark Hacking, mostly, but not entirely, because of my daughter. I look at her fiance and he seems so nice and I wonder what I would do if he did something to my daughter. How awful for her family.

    But, on another note, we are friends with members of Arthur Bishop's immediate family. They are good and kind people.

    I worry about my own cowardice and evil tendencies all the time, and hope I can control myself, should the circumstance present itself. I get pretty mad sometimes.

    A boy in our ward raped a girl in our ward last year. He is in prison now. His mother, to this day, refuses to believe this about her son and has stood by him. I wonder what I would do if my child did a terrible thing. Certainly, I would still love him, but it would be a terrible burden.

    Sad topic.

  3. Heavens, annegb, you don't offend me. Mark did an awful, awful thing. It's very easy to see why someone would loathe him. I hope I do not seem like I am justifying him in any way. But I cannot hope that he is condemned to an awful fate for eternity.

    Thanks, Laura. I too am glad that I don't have to judge intent. And that is what makes judging so difficult- we rarely know another's intent. So why is it so hard to stop judging?

    It has been interesting to watch Mark's family. It seems to me that they are handling this as well as they possibly can. On the one hand, Mark's brothers (with the support of their parents)went to the police with Mark's confession. They encouraged him and supported him in his guilty plea. On the other hand, they continue to say they love him more than ever.

    It's just me, but I can imagine no greater trial in life.

  4. It's hard to rationalize instincts without going back to ethology and studying the roots and the evolution of behavior in animals and humans. You have to be incredibly Christ-like and faithful, or know yourself in the sciences of ethology adn personality very, very well to be in tune to and overcome any environmental or genetic deviations.

    After reading the post at T&S I immediately thought of "Titanic". The film showed how various people react when the flight/fight instinct kicks in. I think of the mother that calmly held her children in the top bunk as the water closed in around them. Though I was horrified and even felt physically sick at her decision, I knew her character illustrated courage and a deep belief in an eternal life.

    As for Mark, there are so many ways that our personality profile and our psychological make-up can fail us - many, seemingly for no reason at all. I am sorry that the story shares a part of your life history.

    I echo Laura - "I am not the one who has to discern intent."

  5. It would be very difficult for me to forgive myself if my child did something horrible like that to another person.

    I can't imagine what it would be like to be the parent of a murderer or a rapist. I know a few and they love their children, but their anguish must be exquisite.

  6. Amira,

    Thank you for this post.

    I have seen one small snowball roll and roll, picking up speed and eventually becoming an out of control avalanch of sorts.

    Sometimes, something so small can become so big, with out much being added to the pot.

    I don't know Marks heart, but I would suspect it might have started as a very small snowball.

    I ache for the Hacking family. For Lori's family too. I can't imagine the pain and grief.

    I read the transcript from the sentencing hearing. I hope the things that were said to Mark, helped the tension and pain on everyone's part.

    And my prayers are with you.