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'Lori is home'

Published October 10, 2004 2:02 am

With their prayers answered, family members bid a tearful goodbye
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

She stretched her trembling arms around his broad shoulders, shaking and crying as she whispered into his ear.

"Thank you," she said, her statement punctuated with sobs. "Thank you. We really do appreciate this."

Believing the search for her daughter's body would likely end without success - and that a proper burial would therefore be impossible - Thelma Soares purchased a headstone last month and had it laid at the Orem City Cemetery.

The peaceful site, on a gently rolling knoll in the middle of the cemetery, would give Soares a place to grieve and give Lori Kay Soares Hacking's spirit - if not her body - a place to rest.

It may have remained empty if it were not for the large man Soares embraced Saturday morning - Salt Lake City police Sgt. J.R. Nelson, who broke into a plastic bag at the Salt Lake County Landfill and discovered Lori's remains.

On Saturday morning, Soares and her family were able to witness the proper burial for which they had prayed.

They were accompanied on the bittersweet occasion by Nelson and more than two dozen other law enforcement officers who participated in the tedious and tiring landfill search.

Also gathered around the 27-year-old's silver casket were childhood friends, church associates and several members of her husband's family.

There was, however, no mention of Mark Hacking, who has been charged with killing Lori as she slept on the evening of July 19, following an argument about Mark's deception about his acceptance to medical school.

"It is very easy in a day like today to have our minds and hearts lost in the moments of the past," explained Scott Dunaway, president of the Windsor Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Orem.

"We must push aside feelings of anger or bitterness or hatred."

But not of grief. As Eraldo Soares sat listening to the song, "Walk in the World for Me," chosen for the occasion, he fell forward toward his daughter's casket, sobbing.

The normally soft-spoken man was determined that faith would prevail over sorrow, however, and stood to deliver an emphatic invocation of appreciation.

"We are so grateful that you have given her to us for these 27 years," he prayed.

He dropped the first of dozens of roses onto Lori's coffin before stumbling away from the gravesite, bracing himself on a tent pole and then falling into the arms of his son, Paul.

Family members, friends and police officers - some of whom cried, others who kissed their fingers and touched the casket - followed past the grave.

Though none of the officers knew Lori before her death, many felt they had gotten to know her as they searched through the landfill for her body.

"She became part of our lives," said Salt Lake City airport police officer Sarah Hill.

So that they would better know the woman for whom they were searching, Hill and the other officers were given a copy of a poem that described Lori as "excellence and perfection, outspoken and determined, feisty and fun" and detailed some of the things she enjoyed.

As the young victim also had become a part of so many other people's lives, during the high-profile investigation and search for her body, her family raised a large banner near the grave.

It read: "Lori is home. Your prayers are answered."





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