Thomas and Jackie Hawks
were a couple from Prescott, Arizona, United States, who were murdered
in 2004. As of April 2009, Skylar James Deleon and Jennifer Henderson
have been convicted of charges relating to their murders.
Skylar James Deleon, his former wife Jennifer
Henderson have been convicted of charges relating to the Hawks' murders.
Deleon and Kennedy were sentenced to death, while Henderson was
sentenced to two terms of life in prison without parole. A fourth person,
Alonso Machain, is awaiting sentencing.
Skylar James Deleon (born John Jacobson, Jr.) is a
former American child actor. The son of a convicted drug dealer, Deleon
began acting in bit parts in commercials as a child. At age 14, he
appeared in the series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as an extra
in the episode Second Chance. As an adult Deleon struggled to
remember lines, and his career faltered as a result. At age 20, he
joined the United States Marine Corps, but went on Unauthorized Absence
(UA) fifteen days later. He was later given an other than honorable
Thomas Hawks was a retired probation officer and a
bodybuilder. He owned, with his second wife Jackie Hawks (formerly of
Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio), a 55-foot yacht, the Well Deserved,
which they treated as their permanent home and on which they sailed for
two years around the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.
In 2004, they decided to sell their yacht, and set up
home in Newport Harbor, to be closer to the grandchild of Mr. Hawks' son
from his first marriage. Jackie helped raise the boys since they were in
their early teens, and considered the new baby as her grandson.
Their advertisement of the sale of the yacht was
answered in November by Skylar Deleon. The couple was initially cautious
of Deleon, but became more receptive when he brought his then-pregnant
wife Jennifer and their other child to a meeting. The Hawks were last
seen alive on the morning of November 15, 2004, heading out of the
harbor. The yacht returned, but they did not. Their bodies have not been
Police inquired into the couple's disappearance. On
November 26, 2004, an attempt was made to access the Hawks' bank account
from Mexico. The family was notified, and filed a missing person report
with the Carlsbad police department.
On November 29, 2004, the police interviewed Skylar
Deleon. He told them that he bought the boat from the Hawkses and showed
them proof-of-purchase documents. He stated to police that the Hawks
left in their car with his money, denied being in their car, and named
Alonso Machain (a former correctional officer that Deleon met while in
jail for burglary) as witness to the purchase. The reason that he bought
the boat, he claimed, was that he intended to launder money related to
an armed burglary in 2002 for which he had been convicted.
In March 2005, Machain confessed to the crime and was
arrested in connection with the couple's disappearance, along with
Deleon, Deleon's wife Jennifer, and Kennedy. Kennedy pleaded not guilty,
and Skylar Deleon initially maintained his innocence as well, claiming
that he was not present at the time and that the couple were killed over
a drug deal gone bad.
Authorities alleged that during a sea test in Newport
Beach Harbor a few days after meeting the Hawkses, Deleon and three
accomplices — Alonso Machain, Myron Gardner, and John Kennedy — bound
and gagged the couple and threw them overboard. Deleon allegedly
masterminded the plan to kill the couple for financial gain and enlisted
Kennedy (who once served time for attempted murder) and Machain to help.
Deleon's wife, Jennifer, was found guilty on two
counts of first degree murder on Friday November 17, 2006, after only
four hours of jury deliberation. In October 2007, Jennifer Deleon, now
calling herself Jennifer Henderson since her divorce from Skylar Deleon,
was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.
While awaiting trial in jail, Deleon was also charged
with soliciting another inmate to murder his father and cousin. He was
also accused of killing John Jarvi, a resident of Anaheim who was found
dead in Mexico in 2003. Deleon's father and cousin (who was charged as
an accessory to the Jarvi murder) are considered "important witnesses"
in both murder cases.
On March 13, 2008, Deleon partially severed his penis
with a razor blade while being held in jail. After receiving medical
attention, he was returned to jail the following day.
On September 22, 2008, jury selection began in the
case against Skylar Deleon. Despite Deleon's earlier protestations of
innocence, once his trial began, Deleon's attorney conceded that Deleon
had indeed committed all three murders. The attorney said that he had
taken the case to trial only to argue to a jury that Deleon should not
be sentenced to death.
On October 20, Deleon was convicted of three counts
of first-degree murder and special circumstances for financial gain and
multiple victims, and on November 6, 2008, the jury recommended the
Sentencing was originally scheduled for January 16,
2009, but was then rescheduled to March 20 on request by Deleon's
attorney. On March 13, it was announced that sentencing would again be
rescheduled, to April 10, so that the family of the victims could attend.
On April 10, 2009, Deleon was sentenced to death by Orange County
Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel. He is currently awaiting the death
penalty in Orange County Jail.
Long Beach man
charged with soliciting the murder of his own father and another witness
while on jail on two murder cases
Deleon is in jail awaiting trial on the Hawks murder and Jarvi murder
County District Attorney
July 28, 2006
NEWPORT BEACH – Skylar Deleon, who
changed his name from John Jacobson Jr., 26, Long Beach, was charged
with soliciting the murder of his own father and another witness while
he was in custody for two different murder cases. The new charge will
add eleven years to what he is facing in two separate murder cases. As
to the Jackie and Thomas Hawks special circumstances murder case, the
District Attorney will decide after a hearing whether he will seek the
death penalty. There will be no bail set on this case. Deleon will be
in court Monday at 10 a.m., H-2, Harbor Justice Center, in Newport Beach,
to be arraigned on the new charges.
On January 24, 2004, Deleon is accused
of asking a fellow inmate in jail to murder his father John Jacobson
Sr., with the intent the murder be carried out. On July 26, 2005,
Deleon is accused of asking a fellow inmate in jail to murder Mike Lewis
with the intent the murder be carried out. Jacobson Sr. and Lewis are
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt
Murphy in the Homicide Unit will prosecute all three cases. The Newport
Beach Police Department is continuing to investigate this case. They
have conducted over 100 witness interviews, reviewed thousands of
documents, and collected and analyzed hundreds of items of evidence.
Anyone with information about this case, the Hawks murder or the Jarvi
murder should contact District Attorney Investigator Kathy Tomlinson at
In November 2004, the Hawks placed an
advertisement for their 55-foot boat named “Well Deserved” for
$440,000. They wanted to spend more time with their new grandchild in
Arizona. Skylar Deleon, his wife Jennifer Deleon, 24, Long Beach,
Alonso Machain, 22, Pico Rivera, Myron Gardner Sr., 33, Long Beach, and
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 40, Long Beach, are accused of participating in
the murder of the Hawks to take their boat and life savings.
Skylar Deleon and Machain are accused
of staking out the boat and the victims on November 6th. Jennifer
Deleon is accused of gaining the trust of the Hawks by bringing her 9-month
old baby to meet the Hawks on November 9th. Gardner is accused of
recruiting Kennedy, a well documented, hard-core, Los Angeles gang
member. On November 15th, Skylar Deleon, Machain, and Kennedy are
accused of taking the boat out of the harbor, overpowering the Hawks,
forcing them to sign the transfer of title documents, handcuffing and
tying them to the anchor, and drowning them. Skylar and Jennifer are
accused of communicating frequently by cell phone while the boat was
Skylar and Jennifer Deleon are accused
of cleaning the boat with bleach and destroying evidence and personal
items belonging to the Hawks. The Deleons are accused of getting papers
signed by the Hawks notarized with backdates. The Deleons are accused
of trying to take money out of the Hawks bank account in Arizona and
placing it in a bank account in Mexico. The Deleons and Machain are
accused of trying to create evidence the Hawks were moving to Mexico
after they were murdered.
On January 16, 2005, Skylar Deleon was
arrested while he was trying to leave for Mexico. Machain was arrested
on March 2, 2005, Gardner was arrested the next day, Kennedy was
arrested a week later, and Jennifer Deleon was arrested on April 8,
2005. The four have been charged with special circumstances murder on
multiple victim and financial gain allegations. Skylar Deleon was
charged with a “Strike” from a 2003 residential burglary case. Kennedy
was charged with a “Strike” from a 1988 attempted murder case. During
the preliminary examination held in 2005, defendant Jennifer Deleon
laughed during the hearing while the grieving Hawks family watched.
On August 19, 2005, Skylar Deleon was
charged with special circumstances murder for financial gain of John
Jarvi, 45, of Anaheim. Jennifer Deleon and his first cousin Michael
William Lewis, Jr., 25, of Arizona, were charged with helping Skylar
Deleon conceal the murder. If convicted, Skylar Deleon could receive
life without the possibility of parole. Jennifer Deleon and Lewis face
three years in state prison for the Jarvi murder plot.
Jarvi met Skylar Deleon while they
were serving a work furlough program at a private jail in Seal Beach in
2003. Skylar Deleon was unemployed supporting his pregnant wife
Jennifer and the two were heavily in debt.
On December 26, 2003, Jarvi went to
his bank in Laguna Beach and cashed two $25,000 checks and immediately
called Skylar Deleon. Two hours after the call, Skylar Deleon is
accused of spending $18,000 in new $100 bills at a boatyard and
depositing $21,000 into the couple’s joint account.
On December 27, 2003, Jarvi called
Skylar Deleon in the morning. Skylar Deleon and Lewis are accused of
driving down to Mexico that day. The two were in frequent communication
with each other on both December 26 and 27th. Jarvi’s body with his
throat slashed was found about 4 p.m. next to the northbound lane near
Ensenada. Skylar Deleon’s car crossed the U.S. border around two hours
later. A week later, the Deleons are accused of getting rid of Jarvi’s
'He's had a horrible, horrible life'
The Sydney Morning Herald
October 21, 2008
A man was convicted in California today of murdering
three people, including a couple who were tied to an anchor and thrown
off their yacht off the California coast.
A jury found Skylar Deleon, 29, guilty of three
counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances for financial
gain and multiple victims.
Deleon's attorney had conceded to the jury from the
outset that Deleon was guilty but should not be put to death. The
penalty phase of the trial will begin on Wednesday.
Deleon's attorney Gary Pohlson told reporters that he
plans to convince the jury to spare his client's life by having Deleon's
relatives and doctors testify during the punishment phase about his
"He's had a horrible, horrible life," Pohlson said,
noting that Deleon's father abused him and later died of AIDS.
Tom and Jackie Hawks were thrown from their yacht in
2004 during a cruise to show the vessel to Deleon, whom they believed
was a prospective buyer.
Deleon was also found guilty of murdering Jon Jarvi,
of Anaheim, in 2003. Prosecutors had said Deleon met Jarvi in a work
furlough program while serving jail time for burglary, and killed him in
Mexico after Jarvi gave him $50,000.
Prosecutors said Deleon feigned interest in buying
the boat and took a test cruise where he and two other men overpowered
the Hawkses, forced the couple to sign over ownership of the boat, tied
them to the anchor and dumped them into the Pacific Ocean.
The Hawkses' bodies were never found.
Prosecutors said Deleon and his former wife, Jennifer
Henderson, were a young couple saddled in debt and living in a converted
After the killings, prosecutors said Henderson paid a
notary $2,000 to backdate paperwork to transfer ownership of the yacht
and Deleon had a friend show her colour photocopies of the Hawkses'
drivers' licenses so she could describe the couple to police as if she
had seen them.
Henderson was convicted in 2006 of murder and murder
for financial gain for her role in the deaths and was sentenced to two
terms of life in prison without parole.
Three other defendants have pleaded not guilty. Two
are accused of being on the yacht when the Hawkses were thrown overboard,
and the final defendant is accused of planning the killings but not of
being on the boat.
Skylar James Deleon
is a 26-year-old actor who was arrested and, on August 16, 2005, charged
with the murder of Thomas and Jackie Hawks, a wealthy California couple.
Skylar Deleon and his wife, Jennifer Deleon,
allegedly gained entry to the Hawks' yacht by pretending to be
prospective buyers of the vessel. Once at sea, Skylar Deleon allegedly
tied the couple to an anchor, then threw them overboard alive. Their
bodies have never been found.
While Deleon claimed (and news reports said) Deleon
was once a star on Power Rangers, Deleon appeared only once as featured
extra Roger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which aired May 4, 1994.
His wife, Jennifer Deleon was found guilty on two
counts of first degree murder on Friday November 17, 2006, after only
four hours of jury deliberation. She faces life in prison. Sentencing is
scheduled in April, 2007.
Prescott couple took fatal voyage
Dennis Wagner - The Arizona Republic
Apr. 15, 2007
Tom and Jackie Hawks huddled on a bed in the cabin of
their yacht, miles off the coast of California, handcuffed, muzzled and
"I don't want to die," Jackie pleaded, her words
muffled by duct tape. "I have a new grandchild in Arizona. I want to see
Her husband leaned back, reaching for her hand,
trying to calm her.
Three armed assailants loomed over the Prescott
couple, ordering them to sign title documents for the boat, demanding
all their bank account information. Jackie wept, trembling. Tom remained
They were bound to each other, marched onto the deck
at night, tied to an anchor. It was thrown overboard, yanking the
Hawkses along. Jackie's head bounced off the deck before she and Tom
splashed into the ocean and sank 3,600 feet.
Their bodies have never been found.
Since that day 29 months ago, the fate of Tom and
Jackie Hawks has been portrayed as a crime mystery, a tragedy.
Matt Hawks, the couple's son in Prescott, talks about
an adventure, a love story.
His parents retired early to live their fantasy life
at sea. For three years they sailed from port to port, following the
curve of the horizon over an endless ocean.
Then, when Matt and his wife, Nicole, had a son, the
first-time grandparents agreed to give up Margaritaville for family:
They would sell the yacht and return to Arizona to be near a baby named
But on Nov. 15, 2004, the Hawkses vanished. Their
boat, the Well Deserved, was found at its mooring in Newport Beach
Harbor, Calif. The normally tidy yacht was a mess. Phone calls went
unanswered. Matt, a Phoenix firefighter, had premonitions of disaster:
His parents were always in touch and never would have left the yacht in
As days passed, the truth began to unfold: A man
named Skylar Deleon had answered ads for the yacht. He claimed to have
been a child actor on the Power Rangers show, with earnings invested in
real estate. He asked to go on a test cruise and brought along two
The Hawkses met their grandson only once, when he was
2 weeks old. Matt recalls Jackie arriving with hand-beaded boats to hang
in a nursery full of sailing images. Tom cuddled the infant, saying, "I'm
going to teach you how to swim. I'm going to teach you how to build
things and go sailing."
"My parents were willing to give up their life on the
ocean to be grandparents," Matt says. "They would have been the absolute
best grandparents. . . . And Jace would have gotten to learn so much
Now 28, Matt sits in the Prescott boathouse built by
his father, eyes lost in a family album full of pictures at sea. "We had
always done boating. From the time I was a little kid," he says. "We
just spent our whole lives on the water."
Matt lists every vessel they owned: an 8-foot dinghy,
a 20-foot pontoon boat, a 16-foot Boston whaler, a 21-foot Cabo, a 28-foot
Tom Hawks had been a firefighter, a bartender, a
probation officer. But he was a seaman at heart, taking a 14-foot dory
to Catalina Island when he was just 17, working summers as a sailing
As husband and father, he dedicated every other
weekend to boating, from Arizona's lakes to the Baja peninsula. The
family went on two long voyages each year, one in the Gulf of California
and another around Catalina Island. For as long as anyone can remember,
Tom dreamed of being an ocean vagabond.
After a divorce in 1979, Tom Hawks left his
firefighting job in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a San Diego County beach town,
and moved to Prescott so he and his sons, Matt and Ryan, could be close
He built a hilltop home amid the piñons. He bought
Matt's Saloon on Whiskey Row, and with his bulging muscles, practical
jokes and positive attitude, he became a local icon. Later, he took a
job with Yavapai County's Probation Department, keeping tabs on ex-cons.
In 1986, while at a canoe race on nearby Lynx Lake,
Tom met Jackie.
They were married two years later, wearing Hawaiian
outfits. "My dad thought more of her than anyone," Matt says. "They were
a perfect couple. . . . Like a ship and a rudder, one doesn't work
without the other."
Hal Slaughter, a friend and former employee at the
bar, says Tom was as good-natured as he was strong, an irrepressible
prankster who once left a giant boulder on his porch just for kicks.
"You never knew what he was going to do," Slaughter
says. "Afterward, he'd stare at you with those penetrating eyes, and all
of a sudden laugh and slap you on the back."
Slaughter says Tom had a Zen-like zest for life,
reflected in his daily body-building regimen: "He was as religious about
that as he was about keeping his boat clean. And, this is no joke, if
you walked on his boat with wet feet, Tom would be right behind you with
a rag, wiping it up."
Matt says his dad was an uncomplicated man with a
simple philosophy: "Be honest. Work hard. Buy your toys with cash."
Tom and Jackie Hawks lived by that simple code,
investing in real estate, planning to retire at sea.
In 2001, earlier than planned, Tom found a dream ship
for sale: the Well Deserved, a 55-foot trawler with teakwood staterooms,
a spacious cockpit and a range of 2,500 miles.
He told his sons, "The sea was calling us, and we
can't wait any longer. Life is too short to put things off, and one
cannot discover new oceans unless they have the courage to lose sight of
At 54, Tom quit his job. He and Jackie, 10 years
younger, sold the house and moved aboard the yacht in Long Beach Harbor,
Calif. They spent a year varnishing, remodeling, adding amenities. They
became scuba divers. Friends joined them on local island cruises.
Finally, the Hawkses cruised south to the tip of Baja
peninsula, across toward the Mexican mainland and up the Gulf of
California, stopping at coves to dive or fish for dinner, sailing to San
"They'd go away to sea," Slaughter says, "and come
back with shells and stories. They lived a life most of us want to live.
... No worries. Stop where and when you want."
Matt and Ryan got frequent satellite calls and e-mails
from their folks, gloating about life in the sun. "They're retired.
They're in no rush to get anywhere," Matt says. "When the weather's good,
they swim and kayak everyday. . . . 'We've got these beautiful beaches.
The water's clean.' "
During two years at sea, the Hawkses undoubtedly ran
into battering storms. But Tom had his captain's certificate and knew
how to handle himself. He'd been a wrestler in college, then a military
police officer. He'd bounced drunks out of the saloon and handled all
kinds of bad actors as a probation officer.
In the late summer of 2004, with Jace Hawks on the
way, the prospective grandparents put their yacht on the market for
A baby-faced 25-year-old named Skylar Deleon answered
the ad. Tom and Jackie did not know that his Power Rangers story was
exaggerated or that he had just served time for armed burglary in the
Seal Beach jail in Southern California.
While behind bars, Deleon befriended a 22-year-old
guard, Alonso Machain. The two remained in touch after Deleon was
One day, Deleon told Machain about a plan to make
money, a plan he had used before. "He would go and look for these people,
kill them, and he would keep whatever money was left," Machain later
recounted in court. "He approached me and said, 'Would you like to make
a few million dollars?' "
The two men bought stun guns and handcuffs. They
visited the Well Deserved and aborted takeover plans twice, Machain said,
because Tom Hawks was so cautious, so powerfully built.
Deleon had his pregnant wife, Jennifer, tour the boat,
thinking the 23-year-old would help to put the Hawkses at ease. She also
took the couple's baby along in an effort to connect with the couple.
The new grandparents relaxed when they met the young
Days later, the Well Deserved chugged out of Newport
Beach Harbor for a test cruise. On board were Skylar Deleon, Machain and
an ex-con named John F. Kennedy, who had served time for attempted
murder. When the vessel was miles from shore, Machain said, Kennedy
ambushed Tom Hawks in the cabin, putting him in a choke hold. Jackie
Hawks, who was in the galley, screamed. Machain tried to use the stun
gun, failed, then managed to subdue her.
As Tom and Jackie - handcuffed, bound, blindfolded
and gagged - were marched up to the deck,Tom made a desperate attempt to
"He knew what was going on, and he pushed back,"
Machain said. "I think it was his, his right leg, I guess, kicked
backwards, and Deleon was behind him trying to tie him and Deleon kind
of flew back on his back. . . .
"The third guy (Kennedy) took a hard swing to his
right temple and basically - it was a pretty hard blow. He (Tom) was
having a hard time staying up at that point. . . . If it wasn't for Mrs.
Hawks, he probably would have been on the floor."
Minutes later, the Hawkses were thrown
As the Well Deserved headed back to shore, Machain
said, he helped the others loot the yacht. As they returned to port, he
said, Kennedy grabbed a beer from the refrigerator: "He pulled out one
of the fishing poles and started fishing from the back of the boat while
he was also drinking."
One day later, a friend first raised the alarm:
Tom Hawks had asked for help moving to Arizona, but he wasn't at his
Family members began phoning and sending e-mails.
Tom's brother, Jim, a former police chief in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, drove
to Newport Beach and found the yacht in shambles. Police began
Within days, they were interviewing Skylar and
Jennifer Deleon. The couple told detectives they had bought the Well
Deserved and said the Hawkses had gone to Mexico. There were signed,
notarized documents as proof.
"They both came off as genuine," recalls Sgt. Evan
Sailor, a Newport Beach detective. "They were cool as cucumbers. . . .
This guy was probably the best pathological liar I've ever met."
Days passed, then weeks. Matt and Ryan Hawks handed
out fliers at the docks. Ryan, 30, went on Good Morning America
and TV news shows, pleading for help. They called every hospital from
Prescott to San Carlos. Matt drove south to speak with boaters at the
"I knew I was chasing something that wasn't true," he
says. "I was 99 percent sure they were dead four days after it happened."
During that time, Skylar Deleon was telling police a
series of stories, finally claiming he paid cash for the boat with money
from a drug deal.
Ryan Hawks never believed that story: "My father took
more than $400,000 in unmarked, laundered money across the hood of their
car in the dark . . . and then ran off to Mexico? Right. Now I have
three questions: How, why and where?"
For police, it was a matter of slowly gathering clues,
such as a receipt found aboard the Well Deserved. The receipt listed
items bought at a Target: bleach, trash bags and Tums. Video showed
Jennifer Deleon was the buyer.
Then the Hawkses' Honda CRV was discovered near
Ensenada, in Baja California, Mexico. The people who had it said the
Deleons gave it to them.
A notary confessed that she was paid a $2,000 bribe
to backdate documents for the yacht sale.
And when authorities searched Jennifer Deleon's
parents' house, they found items taken from the yacht.
Finally, in March 2005, four months after the Hawkses
disappeared, Machain confessed.
In the end, police say the Hawkses were killed for
$3,800 taken from the boat.
Because Jennifer Deleon was not aboard the yacht when
the couple were thrown overboard, her first-degree murder case was
considered the most difficult. Yet jurors deliberated less than four
hours before rendering a guilty verdict in November. Skylar Deleon and
Kennedy are scheduled for trial this fall in the murders of Jackie Hawks,
Tom Hawks and a former cellmate of Skylar's, who was killed in Mexico
before the Hawkses vanished. Both face the death penalty if convicted.
"Given the horrifying nature of this murder, we are
not entertaining any plea bargain," says Matt Murphy, the Orange County
Machain has admitted his role in the crimes and
testified against Jennifer Deleon. He is expected to plead guilty but
has not been promised leniency in return for his testimony.
Skylar Deleon has claimed that the Hawkses were
killed over a drug deal that went bad and that he was not present.
Kennedy could not be reached for comment. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Ryan Hawks, a youthful version of his father, sits
through each court hearing, glaring at the defendants.
"It's important so they can see me," he says. "I
don't know what gives them the idea or the right to throw my parents'
lives away and destroy mine . . . It'll never be over. It'll never heal.
I'm a 24/7 reminder of my father. Every time I look in a mirror, I see
The Hawks brothers heap praise on police and
prosecutors. They understand the justice system. But, in a perfect world,
they say, the killers would be dragged out to sea, tied to an anchor,
thrown over the side.
Matt Hawks says he is haunted by the image of his
parents' final moments: "When you hear that anchor coming around from
the bow of the boat to the stern - you hear that anchor chain dragging -
you can pretty much anticipate your fate. . . . I owe it to myself and
my family to make sure this guy goes where he's supposed to go. We're
going to see this all the way through."