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As searchers spent a third day knocking on doors and scouring City Creek Canyon for any sign of a missing Salt Lake City woman, her husband's relatives were stunned to learn Wednesday he lied about his education.
Mark Hacking never applied to medical school at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as he reportedly told his family. And the University of Utah reported it has no record of Hacking graduating from that school.
"I have no explanation for this new development," said his father, Douglas Hacking. "I just can't understand that. It still doesn't answer the question of what happened to Lori."
Lori Kay Hacking, 27, was reported missing Monday by Mark Hacking, who called police after she failed to return from an early morning jog in the canyon. Hacking said he later found her Chrysler Sebring parked near the entrance to Memory Grove.
Absent from the search since Monday, Mark Hacking was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Douglas Hacking said Tuesday that his son was "in a safe place, being given supportive care by family."
Police, who have identified no suspects, said they know where Mark Hacking is but would not comment further.
The couple were planning to move to North Carolina within the next few days, according to family members. Douglas Hacking said the couple already had packed, hired a moving company and that he and Mark were planning to drive to North Carolina, towing the couple's second car.
Investigators knew Tuesday that Mark Hacking had not applied to medical school in North Carolina but did not feel it was their role to tell his family, said Salt Lake City police Detective Dwayne Baird.
Authorities remained cautious about linking the development to Lori Hacking's disappearance.
Police Chief Rick Dinse said the case is suspicious, "and it certainly appears that some kind of foul play may be involved."
"When there are portions of information that come to our attention that turn out to be erroneous and false, sure, it has an impact on the investigation," Dinse said. "This is just one piece of a larger puzzle we're working to solve," Baird said.
Among those pieces:
Relatives have said they were told that Lori Hacking, after five months of trying, was five weeks pregnant, but police said Wednesday that has not been confirmed.
Lue Turner, a friend of Lori Hacking, said they had an intimate discussion within the past few weeks. In the talk, Hacking lamented her husband's decision to choose North Carolina over a school in Washington, D.C., into which he also claimed to have been accepted.
"Lori rolls with the punches, but she was more of a big-city girl," Turner said. "She would have definitely preferred Washington, but Mark was more of a small-town guy."
In the same discussion, Turner said, Lori Hacking expressed worry over being alone in Chapel Hill, saying she had not yet found a job and noting "that she wouldn't have any children to take care of." Turner said it was her impression that the Hackings were waiting to have children.
Douglas Hacking said Tuesday that his son had graduated from the U. with a degree in psychology. However, Sondra Miller, U. senior associate registrar, said Wednesday that Mark Hacking attended the U., studying psychology from spring 1999 through fall 2002, but "we have no record of his graduation."
Mark Hacking is employed as a psychiatric technician at the U.'s Neuropsychiatric Institute, officials said. A friend from the Institute said she believed he was on his way to medical school, "and was going to be one of the very best doctors."
Lori Hacking's parents said the revelations concerning their son-in-law's education detract from their main focus - finding their daughter.
"I'm really more concerned about finding Lori," said her father, Herald Soares. "Put yourself in my place. What would you do?"
Neighbors said police officers searched the couple's apartment Monday and Tuesday, but authorities would not comment on whether they seized any evidence. In addition, a Dumpster outside a nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel was removed, said Detective Kevin Joiner.
Some of the searches were conducted with a warrant, others with permission of the property owners, Dinse said.
Five detectives are leading a team of three dozen officers on the case.
On Wednesday, the couple's apartment remained cordoned off with police tape.
The Hackings served as property managers at the complex, and a white board contained messages from tenants. "Mark - can you check on our swamp cooler?" Another note said, "Info on Lori please? Apt. #1."
Turner said she last saw the couple about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the night before Lori Hacking was reported missing. She saw Mark Hacking again about 30 minutes later, but had not seen his wife since.
In the canyon, meanwhile, professional search and rescue personnel and volunteer searchers remained. But police were moving their focus off the canyon. "We feel we've been through it as thoroughly as we can," Joiner said.
Lori Hacking was described as 5 feet 3 inches tall, about 115 pounds, with hazel eyes and long, curly brown hair. She was wearing jogging clothes.
Though the number of volunteers Wednesday fell sharply - about 300 compared with more than 1,000 Tuesday - their enthusiasm remained.
For many volunteers, there are parallels between Lori Hacking's disappearance and that of Elizabeth Smart two summers ago - from the fliers papering the city, to hordes of reporters and dusty walks through the foothills.
South Jordan resident Marni Puzey said her two small children kept her from joining the search for 14-year-old Elizabeth in June 2002. But on Wednesday, she participated in a door-to-door campaign on behalf of Lori Hacking. She and other volunteers said Elizabeth's disappearance created a lasting impact on the community, which compelled them to join the effort.
Police, however, said there are few similarities between Elizabeth Smart's abduction and the search for Lori Hacking.
"It's not the same kind of case," Baird said. "She's not a young girl. She was not taken out of her house."
But investigators are able to apply some lessons learned from Elizabeth's case to the current search, he said, such as the importance of volunteers and the missing person's relatives.
For one relative, though, the search calls to mind a time he would rather forget. Chris Smart remembers when his own family was begging for the girl's return as the search continued.
"You're like a deer in the headlights," Smart said Wednesday. That's why he and other Smart family members were helping Lori Hacking's family.
Smart is a member of a group called U-Search. "It started out with a couple of people from when we were doing a lot of the searching for Elizabeth," he said. "They asked if we'd like to participate. We absolutely wanted to."
U-Search is aimed at helping relatives of missing persons, telling them what to expect from the police investigation and also assisting with logistics such as setting up a command center, organizing a search and communicating with law enforcement.
"We let them know, with everything going on, the main thing you've got to do is not lose your focus, and that's getting your daughter back," Smart said.
He and other U-Search members are telling Lori Hacking's family members that the fact nothing has been found means there is nothing indicating she is "not alive."
"Keep going," he said. "It's a matter of just finding her."
Tribune reporter Matt Canham contributed to this story.