SALT LAKE CITY -- A first-degree murder charge was filed yesterday against Mark Hacking, who allegedly confessed to relatives that he shot his wife in the head and threw her body in a trash bin.
Lori Hacking's body has not been found, despite numerous searches of a local landfill.
The charge against Mark Hacking, 28, carries a possible penalty of five years to life in prison.
Hacking confessed to his brothers that early on July 19 he walked into the couple's bedroom and fired a single shot into his wife's head with a .22-caliber rifle, according to a statement of probable cause released yesterday.
He then wrapped her body in garbage bags and placed it in a trash bin about 2 a.m. that day, the statement said. He allegedly disposed of the gun in another bin.
Hacking was also charged with three counts of obstructing justice; each carries a possible term of one year to 15 years in prison.
Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom had the option of filing a count of aggravated murder against Hacking, which carries the death penalty.
But the absence of Lori Hacking's body would have made that difficult to prove. Yocom also did not file a homicide charge to account for Lori Hacking's unborn baby.
The woman told friends just before her disappearance that she was five weeks' pregnant, relying on a home pregnancy test. Without a body, police have not been able to confirm she was pregnant. She apparently did not visit a doctor.
Police have said they are confident in their case against the husband even without a body.
Mark Hacking reported his 27-year-old wife missing July 19. He said she had gone jogging at a downtown park and never showed up for work. But police later uncovered a series of lies by the husband, and said his wife probably had not gone jogging that morning.
The night she was reported missing, police found Mark Hacking naked outside a hotel near the couple's apartment. He was admitted to a psychiatric ward by his family, where he stayed for more than a week before his arrest.
His two older brothers, Scott and Lance, talked with him at the hospital July 24 and later told police that he told them he killed his wife as she slept.
Since the day his wife was reported missing, Mark Hacking's credibility has eroded amid disclosures that he lied to his family about enrolling at medical school in North Carolina and about graduating from the University of Utah.
Police believe the statements attributed to Hacking in the probable cause document are credible. ''Everything corroborates the truth of this statement," Yocom said.
The Friday before she was reported missing, Lori Hacking left work stunned and sobbing. Her coworkers said that she had been making arrangements with the medical school, and that they think an administrator was calling back to say Mark Hacking was not enrolled there.
His father believes Mark Hacking ''just snapped" and killed his wife after she learned he had been lying for years about his education and career plans.
Hacking was arrested Aug. 2. An affidavit filed by police says investigators found human blood on a knife in the couple's bedroom and on the headboard and bed rail. The blood also matched traces of blood found in Lori Hacking's car, police say.