The Final Voyage: Retired California couple chained to anchor, thrown off their own yacht

04/30/2018 5:44 pm pdt.

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A headline-dominating murder mystery in California. A brutal crime filled with so much greed, deception and pure evil that it will continue to be talked about for years to come.

Thomas and Jackie Hawks were living the life they always dreamed of: sailing the Pacific Ocean for nearly two years on a yacht appropriately named Well Deserved .

"The best example one could ever hope for of how couples should treat each other," said Carter Ford, a friend of the Hawks. "They were just totally devoted."

The loving couple had worked hard their entire lives, Tom as a probation officer and Jackie as a stepmom to Tom's two sons. And when they retired, they bought their dream boat, the Well Deserved , a 55-foot yacht. Life couldn't have been better on board.

"They personally were precious people to talk with," said friend Judy Weightman.

Weightman and Ford moored their boats near the Hawks in the same upscale harbor in ritzy Newport Beach, California.

"They lived on the boat better than most people can live in a house," said Ford.

The Hawks cruised the most exotic ports of call from California to the Mexican Riviera. Little did Tom and Jackie know they would soon be headed into troubled waters and a dangerous transition they never saw coming.

After two years of endless vacations, Tom and Jackie's dream is suddenly interrupted in the most wonderful way.

"They had a new grandbaby in Arizona," said author Caitlin Rother.

Crime writer Caitlin Rother says Tom and Jackie decided to embark on a new journey.

"They wanted to get back to Arizona and spend time with this little boy," said Rother.

Tom and Jackie put their beloved Well Deserved up for sale. Instead of paying a hefty commission to a boat broker, they were going to sell the yacht themselves.

"For Tom and Jackie the savings of that fee was going to be significant with what they were going to have left, so they advertised in boating magazines," said Carter Ford.

The Hawks place a small ad in Yachting World magazine, asking $435,000 for the meticulously maintained Well Deserved.

Now all they needed was a legitimate buyer. And it didn't take long.

"They got interest from a buyer for the Well Deserved ," said Caitlin Rother. "This buyer though was young, 25 years old."

The buyer tells Tom he has cash -- lots of it.

"This guy said he had made money as a child actor and made some money in real estate," said Rother.

Initially Tom, the former probation officer is skeptical. But then the buyer does something that eases both Tom and Jackie's fears.

"He brought his wife, and his wife was pregnant, and she brought their little baby daughter in a stroller and that made Jackie and Tom trust them," said Rother.

The Hawks accept an all-cash offer for their asking price of $435,000, and an additional $15,000 for some personal items. Tom and Jackie celebrate their financial windfall with one last trip on board the Well Deserved .

But before the deal is officially sealed, the buyer calls with one more request: a sea trial to inspect the hull and to test the motors.

"The idea is to take the boat out on a sea trial and then they're going to come back and finish the deal," said Rother.

Tom and Jackie expect the buyer and his wife to show up. But this time he has a different crew.

"The buyer comes with a young guy, skinny guy and a much bigger guy, who he says is his accountant," said Rother.

The Hawks are a little suspicious, but agree, and cautiously navigate their way out of Newport Harbor and into open waters for one final voyage on the Well Deserved .

Carter Ford says he made plans to meet up with the Hawks later that night. But as darkness descended over Newport Harbor, he got a troubling message from Jackie.

"'Hey Carter, we don't know why we're not back at shore yet, we're still out here on the sea trial.' We really don't know what's happening other than the fact that they're telling us that there still sea-trialing the boat," said Ford.

Jackie says they'll let him know when they get back to the harbor. But they never called.

When the sun rises, the Well Deserved is moored back in Newport Harbor, but Tom and Jackie are nowhere to be found.

"When they never turned up, it sends chills up your back, of course," said Ford.

The 55-foot yacht is moored back in Newport Harbor, but the Hawks seemed to have vanished into the ocean air.

"They're not calling their friends, they're not calling their family, they're not answering their cellphones, and you know something's wrong," said author Caitlin Rother.

Rother says Tom and Jackie's SUV was also missing, so initially friends assumed the Hawks took a road trip to celebrate their financial windfall.

But when the Hawks failed to contact anyone for more than a week, the family asks Carter Ford to cruise out to the Well Deserved and dig around a little. And when Ford steps onboard the normally meticulously kept yacht, his heart sinks.

What first alerted you that something was wrong with the boat?

"The way it was left, not only was the boat sloppy, there was a white towel hanging out the port hole on the side," said Ford. "This does not look good."

The family immediately files a missing-persons report.

"When I first got the call, I had one of the detectives, I said 'Head out to the yacht, see what you can see,'" said retired Newport Beach Police Detective David Byington.

Retired Detective Sgt. Byington says the detective smashed the lock on the cabin door and entered with caution.

"There wasn't any signs of violence," said Byington.

They find that white towel and a fresh inkpad wedged between the master bed and a wall. Then something else stops him dead in his tracks: a receipt.

"And on this receipt were bleach, cleaning supplies, heavy-duty trash bags and Tums," said Byington. "Just something in the back of my head said 'Well, if I was going to commit a murder, that would be my 'clean kit.' I'd get bags to destroy evidence, clean up and down with bleach wipes, and maybe my stomach would be upset so I would take some Tums."

Newport Police now want to know who was buying the Well Deserved.

"So the buyers were this young couple, Skylar Deleon, 25 years old, and his wife, Jennifer. Jennifer's pregnant and they have a little baby daughter," said Caitlin Rother.

Skylar Deleon may look familiar: he's a former child actor appearing on the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" TV show. His wife Jennifer, the daughter of Christian evangelical parents, worked as a hairdresser.

"He wanted to get the boat with his wife to live on and charter and so have a business on the boat and take families out fishing," said Rother.

With still no sign of the Hawks, Byington secretly puts a surveillance team on the Deleons.

Undercover officer David Moon tracks them down at a local church, but they aren't there to pray. They're actually cleaning the church.

"We show up at a church and he's volunteering his time there with his wife and baby," said Byington.

"We'd also followed Jennifer, she was a hairdresser, and to her job, and she was just walking in, cutting hair," said Newport Beach Police Officer David Moon. "They looked pretty normal. Just a young couple doing their thing.

"I'm expecting to see, you know, some bad guys that you'd get from Hollywood casting. This wasn't it. This was this husband and wife volunteering their time at a church, cleaning," said Byington.

Skylar Deleon and his wife are regulars at church, but they're not volunteering much to help police find the Hawks.

Detectives uncover that Skylar was on probation after being busted for burglary. And when they dig into their finances, they find the couple is $87,000 in debt, living in Jennifer's parents' garage.

Cops start to wonder where in the world did they get the money to buy the Well Deserved ? It certainly wasn't from Deleon's acting career.

"Skylar Deleon had told people that he had been on 'Mighty Morpin Power Rangers,' but in fact it turned out he had just had two minor non-speaking roles," said Caitlin Rother.

Detective Byington hauls Skylar in for questioning, and in the recorded interrogation, Skylar adamantly maintains they did in fact buy the Well Deserved .

"We spent like 485 on it."

"And that was cash, right? That you paid them that day?"

"I go 'How is it that you have this money that you could buy this yacht?' And he said, he almost dropped his shoulders, and said 'I have to be honest with you, the money I got was from drug sales,'" Byington tells Crime Watch Daily.

Skylar says he gave Tom Hawks a briefcase filled with mostly one hundred dollar bills he'd laundered out of Mexico; he handed over the dirty money, and Tom and Jackie signed over the Well Deserved .

"Did he seem nervous?"

"He was excited but nervous. He was just like 'Let's just close this up.'"

"Was it in the trunk so you're out of view, or was it just on the back of the trunk?"

"We were out of view."

Skylar tells Byington the Hawks then asked him if he would use his connections to help the couple open up a bank account in Mexico so they could buy a house.

"He was saying that him and his wife, they were looking at places in San Carlos."

"Did he say anything specific regarding that? 'Cause that's what we're trying to focus looking for them."

"He just said that they liked the Sea of Cortez."

Skylar takes his story one step further, telling Detective Byington that Tom and Jackie even signed a power of attorney giving him full access to move all of their money to Mexico.

"You're telling me you got these two power of attorneys specifically for that, you didn't embellish it any other way. Nothing like that."

As suspicious as it all sounds, the Deleons produce a power of attorney that looks legitimate.

"They hand them over to the police, they are signed, everything looks OK," said Rother.

"Skylar, you have nothing to do with disappearance, wife doesn't either, nobody in your family, your dad. Nobody, right?"

"Even though the story didn't ring true, my first instincts, when I talked to Skylar, was that I don't see him doing anything," said Byington.

Adding to Skylar Deleon's credibility, cellphone towers show the Hawks' phones were "pinging" near the Mexican border the morning after they sea-trialed the boat with Skylar.

Detectives are back at zero, and they turn to the Hawks family for help.

"The Hawks' son Ryan is a really good-looking individual, so we put him in front of the cameras on national news for a plea to find this car and his parents," said Byington.

Cops get the hit they've been waiting for, and it's across the border.

"We finally got a call from an American citizen down in Mexico who said 'Hey, I'm watching the news right now and you say you're looking for a car and I'm looking at it,'" said Byington. "And sure as hell, here's the Hawks' vehicle sitting there."

Thomas and Jackie Hawks did what thousands of people do: They took out an ad to sell their yacht. Little did they know they were setting themselves up for a trap.

Detectives are staring at Tom and Jackie Hawks' missing SUV. It's spotted outside a house near Ensenada, Mexico.

Is this the break Newport Beach Detective Sgt. David Byington has been waiting for? The Hawks mysteriously disappeared more than a month prior, last seen heading out to sea onboard their yacht.

A Mexican federale takes the lead and knocks on the door. Byington speaks very little Spanish, but even he understands what the man says.

"The gentleman inside the house said the name Skylar Deleon," said Byington.

The same Skylar Deleon who bought the Well Deserved , and he wasn't alone.

"And then I hear the same Mexican gentleman inside say Jennifer's name," said Byington.

The gentleman at the door is an old surfing buddy, and says Skylar gave him the car. After that, Deleon's very pregnant wife Jennifer picked him up and drove him back to the States.

"He swabbed the knobs within the car and end up hitting Skylar's DNA on the heater knob in there, so it turned out to be amazing," said Byington.

Detectives now believe something bad happened to Tom and Jackie on the Well Deserved -- but what?

Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy smells big trouble.

"This case was uniquely diabolical," Murphy tells Crime Watch Daily.

Murphy suspects Skylar and possibly his wife Jennifer are both involved in the Hawks' disappearance, but he needs proof.

So he circles back to that power of attorney. Skylar told detectives the Hawks willingly signed it, hoping Skylar Deleon could help them buy a home in Mexico.

"They had a durable power of attorney, OK. That makes no sense," said Murphy. "That would give this young 22, 23-year-old couple, strangers to them still, access to their bank accounts."

Here's the problem: the notary, a woman named Kathleen Harris, tells cops it's the real deal, claiming she witnessed the Hawks signing the papers and personally took the required fingerprints to make the documents legal.

"She said, 'I was down there, I saw the transaction. I didn't see how much money was in the suitcase,' but she tells the same story essentially that Skylar told. They also had fingerprints all over the documents," said Murphy.

But when cops ask the notary to physically describe Tom and Jackie Hawks, she stumbles.

"She describes Tom to a tee, but she described Jackie as having brown curly hair, which was odd because Jackie, when they moved onto the Well Deserved , she cut her long curly hair and she spiked it and dyed it blonde. So that was one of those things, it didn't quite make sense."

Could the notary just be confused? The fingerprints on the power of attorney are an exact match, and the signatures also appear to be legitimate.

"We send these things off to the FBI and the finest handwriting experts in the world look at it and go, 'That is Tom's signature,'" said Murphy.

The experts also confirm it's Jackie's signature -- but there is something strange.

"Their last name is Hawks with an 's,' OK, and she wrote 'Jackie Hawk,' and somebody else came in later and wrote in an 's' that's inconsistent with her signature," said Murphy.

Murphy believes Jackie may have been secretly trying to alert someone they were in deep trouble.

"She wanted to send a signal to somebody in the future that something here is not right," said Murphy.

And just as Murphy is about turn the spotlight on the Deleons, the D.A. gets tipped off that Skylar is about to scramble like a cockroach looking for cover.

"Suddenly Skylar contacts his probation officer and says 'Can I get permission to leave the country?'" said Caitlin Rother.

So the quick-thinking D.A. comes up with a plan, and it's all caught on audio tape. An arrest warrant is issued for Skylar Deleon for money-laundering. During Skylar's interrogation, he confessed to laundering money from a Mexican drug deal.

As the officer moves in to cuff Skylar, he is reportedly wearing an adult diaper at the time.

"So they arrest Skylar and Jennifer has the gall to start being angry at the police officers, like 'You have some nerve to take my husband away,' and it was just an unbelievable scene," said Rother.

Detectives also head to that converted garage apartment at Jennifer's parents' place, where the two have been living. Cops hit the jackpot.

"They find all of Tom and Jackie's stuff. They find their camera, they find driver's license and other kinds of very personal belongings," said Rother.

And detectives can't help but notice that in Jackie's driver's license, she looks remarkably similar to how the notary described her.

"So that raised suspicions about the notary, and did the notary actually witness these documents being signed or not," said Rother.

Cops are beginning to suspect there are more people involved with the Hawks' disappearance than just the Deleons.

Detectives also stumble across something else in the garage that raises a few eyebrows.

"One of my detectives found a business card from LAPD and the detective was assigned to as a liaison with Interpol," said Byington.

Newport Police contact the Interpol agent, and when detectives reveal they're investigating Skylar's possible involvement in the disappearance of the Hawks, the agent hits them with a jaw-dropper.

"He says 'That's funny because I was talking to him a year ago because we were looking at him for murder of an American citizen in Mexico," said Byington. "I go, 'They killed the Hawks, because this is no way,' you know, this is too much of a coincidence."

But Mexican federales could never link Skylar Deleon to the murder.

"We have no proof he did anything illegal but its stinks on ice," said Byington.

The noose is quickly tightening around Skylar Deleon in the disappearance of Tom and Jackie Hawks. Cops just need to figure out motive and method.

On a hunch, Murphy calls an old boating buddy he met in Indonesia named "Salty Sam."

"I'm like, 'Hey, man. What should we be looking for on a boat if we're trying to figure out if there was a murder committed?' And without skipping a beat, he said 'Look for missing anchors,'" said Matt Murphy.

Investigators go back to the ad the Hawks had placed in that yachting magazine.

"And in every single photo there were two anchors on the bow," said Murphy.

They rush back out to the harbor to check the Well Deserved . And sure enough:

"On the bow of the boat there's only one anchor, and there should have been two," said Murphy.

"Our working theory was 'Hey, they had him sign the paperwork, they shot them, they threw them overboard,'" said retired Newport Beach detective David Byington.

Cops claim Skylar Deleon is actually a master manipulator. Detectives don't believe Deleon ever intended to buy Tom and Jackie Hawks' yacht. Instead, they say, he hatched a twisted plan to steal it by murdering the Hawks in cold blood, then dumping their bodies into the Pacific Ocean.

"Utterly diabolical," said Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy. "He used his kids to get two innocent people to trust him enough that he would go out to sea with them and they'd let their guard down. And that's what happened."

Murphy has Deleon arrested for money-laundering so he can build a case. But it becomes crystal clear Skylar Deleon didn't pull of the elaborate scheme by himself. Authorities believe his pregnant wife Jennifer was his partner in crime who helped him set the trap.

"The entire investigation at that point shifted to her," said Murphy.

Still, Murphy needs solid evidence to prove Jennifer was a willing accomplice. And he finally gets it.

"We actually have video surveillance pictures of them walking up to the teller, and Jennifer's got a grin ear to ear," said Byington. "They came up and said 'We want to get money out for the Hawks, and here's the power of attorney,' and the manager comes over and says 'I know the Hawks and I'm not giving you a dime until we verify this.'"

"Physically, she wasn't on that boat, she was absolutely on that boat in every other way. She's cheerleading the whole time," said Matt Murphy.

It was all the proof Murphy needed to charge Jennifer as an accomplice. But instead he makes Deleon's wife an offer he thinks she can't refuse: immunity. All Jennifer has to do is rat out her husband.

"She's probably about seven months' pregnant, at that point, so she told us to pound sand," said Murphy. "Young love prevailed and she said no."

Murphy then goes back to Kathleen Harris, the notary that he suspects lied about witnessing the Hawks sign the power of attorney documents. But Harris doesn't flinch either.

"Everybody stuck to the same story. So we had to see if there was somebody that would tell us the truth," said Murphy.

And there in black and white is the mistake that will sink the Deleon's story, a name staring prosecutors right the face: A signature on that power of attorney of a man who witnessed the deal going down, Alonso Machain.

"So Alonso was 19 years old at the time, living with his parents, and he's working at the Seal Beach city jail," said Murphy.

Machain worked as a jail guard, and he'd befriended Deleon when he was serving time for burglary.

"They develop this weird sort of friendship. And I mean he wraps Alonso around his finger and gets Alonso to go with him for all these meetings with Tom and Jackie Hawks," said Murphy.

But when cops try to haul Machain in for questioning, he flees to Mexico. Again, Murphy offers up a deal. He can't give Machain complete immunity, but if he returns and tells his side of the story, Murphy will take the death penalty off the table.

"He decided at that point to do the right thing," said Murphy.

Detectives turn on a tape recorder and Alsono Machain tells his story.

"Skylar approaches me with this plan he has. He was going to do something that was going to make some money. So he offers me to help him."

Machain tells detectives there was another man in Deleon's crew that day. Deleon introduced him to the Hawks as his accountant. But he was actually a notorious gang-banger and a convicted killer named John F. Kennedy.

"He'd been to prison before, he was an original founding member of a gang called the Long Beach Insane Crips," said Matt Murphy.

Machain says before he, Deleon and Kennedy board the Well Deserved , Deleon gives them strict orders.

"The plan is that we were supposed to kidnap them and take them out to sea and toss them overboard."

"And how was he planning to do that?"

"Tasers. He thought of Tasers."

Machain says once out to sea, they set their plan in motion. Kennedy pretends to be seasick and goes down below into the cabin.

"Mr. Hawks becomes concerned because John F. Kennedy is not returning, so he goes down, Skylar follows Mr. Hawks down to the lower area and that's when he gets ambushed," said David Byington.

Up on deck, Jackie Hawks hears the commotion.

"She says 'What's going on,' and that's when they were actually holding him down. Then that's when I realized that I had to, you know, hold her."

"Alonso at that point produces a Taser and tasers her," said Murphy.

"I was able to cuff Mrs. Hawks. At this time I walked her down to the bedroom area where Skylar told me to go get some tape from the engine room. He got the tape and he told me to tape their eyes, tape their mouth."

"Jackie Hawks is crying and screaming through the piece of cloth over her mouth, and Alonso says the only thing he can see is Mr. Hawks stroking her hand with his fingers, the handcuffed hands, trying to calm her down, and rightly so, because I know Tom Hawks knows what's going to happen," said Byington.

"They had them one by one go up to the kitchen area where she was first. They had her sign a power of attorney."

"Skylar told them 'I'm going to let you go if you cooperate. If you don't we're going to kill you here,'" said Byington.

Alonso Machain says Deleon then heads to the cockpit and punches coordinates into the GPS to steer straight toward the deepest part of the ocean near Catalina Island.

Jackie and Tom, still cuffed and blindfolded, are led to the deck of the boat.

"Got some rope, got up to the back, tied them together."

Then a sound pierces through the ocean waves, a sound Tom and Jackie have heard hundreds of times.

"At that point Skylar disconnects one of the anchors from the bow of the boat and he drags the chain, so they're inside a fiberglass boat and he's dragging the chain to the back," said Murphy.

"He knows that sound," said Byington. "You don't need vision to know that, 'cause they're blindfolded. That chain's coming down the side."

"And she's begging for her life and she's saying 'I have to see my grandchild one more time. I have to see my grandchild again. I'm too young to die,'" said Murphy. "And Tom was stroking her hand, saying 'It's OK, we're going to be together.' So at that point they know what's going to happen. They're going overboard."

"I didn't believe what I was looking at, just pushed them."

The brand new grandparents were still alive when the 50-pound anchor plummeted to the bottom of the sea, dragging the helpless couple 3,600 feet straight down.

Alonso Machain witnessed the inhumanity, and unbearable cruelty of Skylar Deleon, the twisted mastermind behind the murders.

"Skylar picked up this massive anchor and threw it over the side of the boat, and they have the most horrific death I can imagine, and their bodies were never recovered," said retired detective David Byington.

Machain, who helped Deleon kidnap the Hawks, is now a witness against him, telling investigators after Deleon threw the Hawks overboard, he started getting rid of any sign of the Hawks.

"He collected all of Tom and Jackie's personal photographs and tossed them overboard like they were Frisbees," said Matt Murphy. "Skylar had no remorse at all. Skylar Deleon is a complete psychopath."

Once Deleon got rid of the evidence, Machain tells investigators, Deleon and John Kennedy kicked back and started fishing on the way back to harbor in Newport Beach, California.

"How was Skylar acting maybe while this was happening?"

"He was calm, like it was the most normal thing."

Skylar Deleon, John Kennedy and Alonso Machain are all charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Days later, Jennifer Deleon is still standing by her man, telling a Los Angeles television station her husband is absolutely innocent.

Cops say not only is Skylar guilty, but Jennifer is too. Prosecutors charge Jennifer with two counts of murder, claiming she helped carry out the murders from the shore. The motive clear and simple: the Deleons wanted money.

"She's a witch. She knew that they had no money, and yet she's going out to meet the people that are selling Skylar this yacht, and she's bringing her child," said Byington. "She might as well have tied the anchor to those people and thrown them over too."

Separate juries hear each case, but they all come back with the same verdict: guilty.

Jennifer Deleon is sentenced to life in prison.

Alonso Machain is given leniency and sentenced to 20 years.

John F. Kennedy is sentenced to death for the double murder.

Before Skylar Deleon's trial even begins, he's hit with a third murder rap.

"He not only murdered the Hawks, but he murdered, slit the throat of another American in Mexico a year earlier," said Byington.

Cops say Deleon slit the throat of a man named Jon Jarvi after luring him with a promise of turning an investment of $50,000 into more cash. Prosecutors say there was no deal; the motive for the murder was all for fun.

"They purchased a new car because they wanted something to tool their little brood around in," said Matt Murphy. "And then he made a bunch of internet purchases including a $658 piston-driven sex toy."

Nearly five years after the Hawks were murdered, Skylar Deleon faces trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

"There was another motive, and it was a primary motive, and that was that Skylar Deleon wanted to get gender-reassignment surgery," said crime author Caitlin Rother.

Rother, who wrote the book about the Hawks' grisly murders, titled Dead Reckoning , says Deleon desperately needed $17,000 to pay for surgery to transition.

"He had already put down a $500 deposit on this surgery and had one scheduled for two weeks after the Hawks were murdered, but they didn't have the money," said Rother.

Rother knows Skylar Deleon as well as anyone. She started visiting him in prison while researching her book.

"All Skylar wanted to talk was how he wanted to get rid of his penis," said Rother.

But with no money and thinking there was no chance of making the transition while sitting in a cell, Rother says Skylar made a desperate attempt.

"He tried to cut his penis off in jail with a razor," said Rother.

But now the state of California is paying for Skylar Deleon to transition to a woman. Deleon is currently sitting in the psych ward on death row at San Quentin.

"And Skylar is now living as a woman and wants to be called 'she,'" said Rother.

"It's ridiculous," said Byington. "There are legitimate people out there with transgender issues that work their tails off their whole life, if they are lucky enough to get a surgery. Skylar doesn't deserve that right. Skylar doesn't get to kill people and then get rewarded, and that's kind of the way it feels."

Skylar Deleon and his wife have since divorced while behind bars. Deleon continues to maintain he had nothing to do with the Hawks' deaths and has appealed his conviction.

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NBC 7 San Diego

Yacht With Chilling Past Up for Sale

By jonathan lloyd • published june 19, 2009 • updated on june 19, 2009 at 6:43 am.

Tom and Jackie Hawks wanted to sell their yacht -- the Well Deserved -- because they planned to move closer to their newborn grandchild in Arizona.

The 55-foot Lien Hwa trawler has two decks, two staterooms and hand-carved teak interior. The couple put about $50,000 into improvements.

All attractive features for any potential buyer.

But the Well Deserved will forever be associated with what happened on Nov. 15, 2004. That's when  the Hawks were bound, tied to a 60-pound anchor and thrown overboard. Long Beach residents Skylar Deleon , 29, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy , 43, were sentenced to death in the case. Investigators said Deleon, posing as a buyer and Kennedy, posing as an accountant, went aboard the Well Deserved under the guise of taking a test run. In a video posted on the , detective David Byington explains what happened next. Byington tours the boat and describes the confrontation between the Hawks and their attackers. "I don't like being down here," Byington said while showing the camera crew the bedroom in which the Hawks were bound. "I don't even like being on this boat. I feel like I'm still invading their home. The worst part is they were downstairs for several hours, and they knew they were going to die." The Hawks' dream boat will be for sale next week. The couple intended to spend some of the happiest years of their lives aboard the boat after Tom Hawks retired after 17 years as a probation officer.

They wanted to sell the Well Deserved so they could return to Arizona to live near their newborn grandson. Tom Hawks' sons, both of whom are in their early 30s, were left with the responsibility of maintaining -- and now selling -- the boat. It will be placed on the market next week after it is returned to Newport Harbor, according to the newspaper. Ryan Hawks , one of Tom's sons who lives in Carlsbad, said the yacht broker indicated it will be listed for about $229,000. That's about $70,000 less than the Hawks paid in 2002.

Investigators were holding the yacht until the end of the criminal cases.

55 foot yacht the well deserved

Watch CBS News

48 Hours Mystery: Dark Voyage

June 12, 2010 / 10:19 PM EDT / CBS

This story originally aired on May 2, 2009. It was updated on June 12, 2010.

Newport Beach, Calif., Detective Dave Byington doesn't rattle easily.

"This is probably the thirtieth time I've been on this vessel and I don't like it," he says of a 55-foot yacht, which now sits in dry dock - cold as a tombstone - giving silent testimony to a crime that defies humanity.

"I get the heebie jeebies on this boat. I just don't feel comfortable on it. You start to think about - imagine, only try to imagine what they experienced, and it's too horrific," he tells "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Maureen Maher. "The boat's under way, It's nighttime. It's cold."

The only thing outweighing the horror of what happened that night is the power of Tom and Jackie Hawkses love. It is a fairy-tale romance that started hundreds of miles from any ocean, in the mountains of Prescott, Ariz., where Tom was raising his two sons alone.

Tom's boys, Ryan and Matt, are sons from a first marriage that ended in an amicable divorce.

Ryan describes his father as a "man's man."

"He was very masculine, very outdoors. And he just wanted us to appreciate what we had in life… He would take us to Catalina Island to do a lot of hiking, fishing and backpacking," he says. "Some of my better times with him were on the water."

"It was an absolute great life," says Matt. It was a life where toughness was taught early on.

"You know, stay strong. I remember if I wrecked or cried as a little kid, he'd be like, 'Toughen up boy. Toughen up,'" Ryan recalls.

Above all else, Tom Hawks played by the rules. He worked with the probation office of Yavapai County, helping those in trouble, find a second chance.

"Tom was a kind of probation officer that would take a real interest in the problems that his probationers were having," John Ryder tells Maher.

Ryder, Brian Gray and Bill Paiano were Tom's co-workers and knew what kind of a man he was. "Tom was a quality guy," says Paiano.

"I believe Tom's family life, like most of us that worked together, was really important to him," says Gray.

But something major was missing in his life. Then, the tough, single father had his heart melted by Jackie O'Neill.

"She met Tom at a chili cook-off. I believe it was July of '86," says Jackie's best friend, Patricia Shutz. "He would walk on water for her, and she would do the same for him."

It was clear where things were heading.

"He got down on his hands and knees and he asked her to marry him," Shutz says. "She was very excited and she was very happy."

And soon, Ryan and Matt were happier, too. Because, they say, there was a downside to life alone with dad - like Tom's "famous goulash."

"He would make a pot of it for a week," Ryan explains. "And every time we'd come home for dinner it'd be like, 'Ugh, this again?'"

Things changed once Tom and Jackie wed. "Dinners got a lot better," says Matt.

Matt and Ryan were still in elementary school when Tom and Jackie wed in 1989. The boys came to think of Jackie as their mother.

"She was the best mother any boys could ever have. Really," says Shutz.

Ryan describes Jackie as a real trooper. "Most of the time they do something, it's my father's idea. And Jackie never complains and she just goes with it."

So it came as no surprise when Tom sold the house and Jackie said 'yes' to a dream Tom had been nurturing for years - to retire, own a yacht and live on the sea.

"He said, 'Life's too short, and it's my life, this is our time, and I feel if I hesitate, then it would just go by and I'll miss it,'" says Ryan.

It was in Newport Beach, Calif. that Tom and Jackie Hawks came to find paradise. Their dream was rooted in two simple things: being together and being on a boat. Few people had lived better lives, so it almost seemed like fate when the couple bought a 55-foot yacht that was already named Well Deserved.

For Tom and Jackie, a dream had come true. Life was an endless cruise filled with good times and best friends, sailing from Catalina Island to Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

"Being on water for them was a solitude," Ryan explains. "It was seeing the curve of the Earth and seeing the sunset fall right behind it every night."

While Tom and Jackie were living the life they'd always dreamed of, something wonderful was happening in the mountains of Prescott, Ariz., that would alter their lives forever: Matt and his wife, Nicole, welcomed baby Jace.

"They were just very excited," Matt says. "Jackie was already buying baby clothes."

After four years at sea, Tom and Jackie decided being grandparents was worth more than all the sunsets across the Pacific.

"They wanted to come back and be a part of our lives," Matt says. "They believed very strongly in family."

The couple put a small ad in a boating magazine and the Well Deserved was on the market; all they needed was an honest buyer.

Skylar Deleon: File under loser.

"Tom and Jackie Hawks put their boat up for sale and I went to buy it," Deleon tells Maureen Maher.

If the Hawks are all about family, the man who showed up to by their boat is all about the lack of it.

"Growing up I've never really felt like loved," Deleon tells Maher. "My childhood, I hated it… the environment, my dad… I hated him. He was into manufacturing drugs. And… distributing them and selling them."

Despite those odds, Deleon did try to make something of himself as an actor. He even made it onto the TV show "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers." He'd tell people he was a major member of the show's cast, but it was a lie. He admits to Maher he was an extra "three times."

Then, eager to get away from an abusive home, Deleon joined the Marines; he ended up going AWOL.

Deleon was fast drifting nowhere. "I don't think I have a life plan," he says. And then, through a random e-mail, he met a small-town girl with big ideas.

Jennifer Henderson grew up in Long Beach, Calif., in a devoutly religious home. She'd finish high school and end up working in a hair salon. After they chatted for a few weeks online, she and Deleon agreed to meet at the mall.

Orange County Prosecutor Matt Murphy now knows everything about these two aimless young adults and their twisted relationship.

"She wasn't really doing a whole lot with her life until she met Skylar," he says. "He was a manipulator and somebody that was a complete conman and she was a spoiled brat. Basically, the two of them together was the perfect combination."

They'd marry, and soon, daughter Haley was born. The pressure mounted for Deleon to support his new family and prove his worth to Jennifer.

"I definitely loved her. I mean, to the point there's nothing I wouldn't do for her," he says.

But Deleon couldn't hold a job and couldn't find a way to move his young family out of his in-laws' garage apartment. He grew desperate.

Other than going AWOL with the military, he tells Maher that he had never committed a crime before. "Not until I met Jen."

Deleon's new ambition led him to a new line of work: burglary. He was arrested and ended up in California's Seal Beach City Jail, leaving his wife to care for their baby.

"Their relationship is characterized by debt… they were $87,000 in debt," Murphy explains. "Skylar has no job. And [Jennifer's] pregnant again."

When asked if Jennifer was happy, Deleon says "no," explaining she was tired of the bills and tired of living with her parents. "She's like, 'You know, we gotta do something.'"

It was that pressure that led Deleon to Tom and Jackie Hawks, where he used the one deadly skill he really had.

When asked how he rates Deleon as a con artist, Murphy says, "As far as his effect on other people? I've never seen anything like Skylar."

Even those who chase horror for a living are haunted by the depravity of what happened on the Well Deserved.

"It drives me nuts. It makes me so angry," Det. Dave Byington says. "And you start thinking about it … It's one of those things that you can't get out of your mind because it's that terrible."

It all began with the simple ad Tom placed in a boating magazine so he and Jackie could spend more time with their family.

Deleon says he called and talked to Tom. When asked if he was really planning on buying the boat, he replies, "Well, we really didn't have the money… Our thought at that point was to, I guess, rip them off."

But he knew he'd need help. That's when Deleon says he enlisted Alonso Machain, a young prison guard he'd met when locked up on the burglary charge.

"Alonzo is unsophisticated. He hasn't been a lot of places. He hasn't done a lot of things," Murphy explains. "So he was really ripe for Skylar to enlist as a confederate in this whole thing."

On Nov. 6, 2004, Deleon and Machain went down to the waterfront to meet Tom and Jackie Hawks. Tom, who was smart and savvy, didn't like what he saw.

"Thomas Hawks had been a probation officer for 20 years and Thomas Hawks was kinda leery," Murphy explains.

Tom was asking $435,000 for the Well Deserved. Deleon just didn't look like the kind of guy with that type of cash. When Jackie started proudly boasting about her new grandchild, he saw his opening: family.

"And the first thing that Skylar did when they got off the boat… is he picked up his phone and called Jennifer up in Long Beach, and he said, 'You gotta come down here and bring Haley and put these people at ease,'" Murphy says.

Jennifer came down that same day.

"I can't think of anything more horrific than a mother using her child," says Byington, who tears up at the thought.

But the Hawkses fell for it, convinced they had a real buyer. They couldn't imagine the trap that was being set. No one could.

The disgraced Marine sized up the life-long public servant mentally and physically.

"And what did you think when you saw Tom?" Maher asks. "The fact that he's pretty big," Deleon replies.

The gang of two needed a tough guy. Byington says Deleon recruited a gang member from Long Beach named John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Arrested more than 20 times, JFK joined the plot. Deleon set a date to test drive the boat while Jennifer stayed home - her child having served her purpose.

"Oh, she's up to her eyeballs in the whole thing," Murphy says of Jennifer's involvement.

It was Nov. 15, 2004. Machain came along and JFK even wore a suit. Deleon told Tom and Jackie that Kennedy was his accountant. The Well Deserved headed out to sea.

Good and evil were about to intersect in waters off Newport Beach, Calif.

Tom and Jackie Hawks guided their yacht, the Well Deserved, from the shelter of the harbor. But as light danced across the waves, darkness was set to descend, brought on by the very passengers they'd invited onboard: Alonso Machain, John F. Kennedy and their hapless leader, Skylar Deleon.

"I don't think anything was even 100-percent serious until it was too late," Deleon tells Maureen Maher. Too late, he says, was when they were already on the boat.

But that's one of Deleon's lies. The truth is everything was deadly serious and meticulously plotted weeks before, when he and Jennifer Deleon used their very own baby to con Tom Hawks into believing they were honest buyers.

Detective Sgt. Dave Byington and Sgt. Evan Sailor would come to know everything about Deleon's plans - right down to the tasers and handcuffs he brought on board.

"He's capable of making decisions, and making his conscious decisions and planning things out over a period of time," says Sgt. Sailor.

When asked if Deleon's plan gives a whole new meaning to the concept of premeditated, Byington says it's "beyond anything I could imagine."

That's because stealing the 55-foot yacht was only the start of the plan.

"They didn't want to get a job," Byington says. "They wanted to take other people's money."

Because of the work led by Byington and Sailor, the Well Deserved - home to Tom and Jackie - would become evidence. Incredible detective work by the two cops would eventually reveal every horrifying moment of that day at sea.

The boat was now anchored well outside Newport Beach Harbor. Deleon went below. Moments later, John F. Kennedy - the hulking gangbanger who was pretending to be Deleon's accountant - also came down, feigning seasickness.

"Eventually, Thomas Hawks also goes down to investigate, 'cause they're not returning," explains Byington. He says Jackie remained on deck with a jittery Alonso Machain.

"Jackie first hears a commotion down in the stateroom," Byington continues. "And at this point, she sees Thomas Hawks being choked by John Fitzgerald Kennedy and being struck by Skylar Deleon.

"Alonzo now knows he has to do his part. And he starts to overpower Jackie first by applying the taser. And he actually overpowers this poor woman, puts handcuffs on her. Skylar and John Fitzgerald Kennedy end up overpowering Thomas Hawks, handcuff him. And eventually, Jackie Hawks is brought downstairs with Thomas Hawks. And they are laid on their bed."

They were bound, and now, Tom and Jackie Hawks would be gagged.

"Skylar tells Alonzo to go get some duct tape. And Skylar instructs him to duct tape over their mouth and their eyes. And he proceeds to do so," says Byington.

Tom and Jackie huddled together on their bed. These are the details their sons, Ryan and Matt, would come to know - the agonizing flashbacks that will never fade:

"She couldn't stop crying. She was yelling at Skylar saying, 'You this, you that. You took your baby daughter and your wife on our boat. How could you?'" says Ryan.

"She was begging for her life, wanting to see her grandchildren again," says Matt. "I mean she was only 47 years old."

"And I think the only thing my father could move was his hands. And he just calmly stroked Jackie's hands to give her some level of comfort," says Ryan.

When Maher points out that that was the last gentle moment Tom and Jackie shared, Byington says, "I never thought of it, you're absolutely right. That is. After that, everything else was pure horror."

Finally, the depth of the depravity of Deleon's plan was about to be revealed.

He produced a set of phony documents and handed the couple a pen. Deleon says he wanted the Hawkses to sign over the boat and power of attorney for their bank accounts.

"They brought with them an ink pad," Byington explains. "Jackie's obviously still crying. She can't help herself and it's understandable. They remove one handcuff and they remove a little bit of the tape so she can see out, instruct her to sign her name, roll her fingerprints. And Skylar starts asking her various questions about her accounts, account numbers, where the banks are."

Then it was Tom's turn to sign away the honest life he's worked so hard for to a man who had hardly worked an honest day in his life.

"And if there was a chance of living, I think he was willing to just stay calm and follow their commands," Matt says of his father.

"[Tom] proceeds to sign all the paperwork, roll his fingerprints, gives him the account information that he's requesting," Byington says.

With the phony papers signed, the Well Deserved powered further out to sea.

"Skylar came up and punched in coordinates which set him out to Santa Catalina," says Byington. He says Deleon knew exactly where he was going.

The yacht and its passengers were headed out towards the deep waters off Catalina Island, where Tom and Jackie shared so many good times, and where only days before, they'd enjoyed a final cruise with friends on the Well Deserved.

Byington says, "These people were living a dream and Skylar just took it."

Handcuffed, gagged, and now tied to one another with nautical ropes, Tom and Jackie were dragged up on deck. That's when, Byington says, they heard the sound :

"He hears the chain coming. There's no doubt. Skylar gets behind and starts and actually hooks the anchor to the rope so now this anchor is now attached to these two poor people."

"He heard that sound a hundred times," says Ryan. "And he's like 'Son of a bitch. They're not gonna let us go.'"

Aware of his destiny, Matt says his father fought back one last time.

"…he basically does a reverse mule kick with his leg and kicks Skylar… and he kicks him so severely that Skylar's lifted up off his feet and lands on his backside," Byington explains. "John Fitzgerald Kennedy sees this and - JFK is a big man and he levels him, hits him. It knocks Thomas Hawks out. The punch is so severe and so violent."

With the anchor chain tied around the couple, Deleon threw the anchor overboard. The chain fed out to sea, yanking Tom and Jackie into the icy waters.

"So that's where they are now," Ryan says. "They're 3,600 feet below the cold Pacific Ocean tied to an anchor."

The deed now done, the Well Deserved headed back to Newport Beach. Deleon called his wife, Jennifer, on his cell phone.

"I remember her asking if 'I was sure'" he tells Maher, of the question of whether the couple was dead. "I was like, 'I'm sure.'"

Sgt. Sailor says Deleon had a motto: No body, no crime. Deleon thought he was going to get away with it because there were no bodies.

Friends and family believed Tom and Jackie Hawks had just sold the Well Deserved and were headed home to Prescott, Ariz., to see their new grandson. Their sons, Matt and Ryan, couldn't wait for them to arrive.

"I called my dad first. It went straight to voice mail. Then I called Jackie's and it went straight to voice mail. And they never shut off their phone," Ryan says. "I was thinking maybe they're taking a last-minute cruise… And I talked to my Uncle Jim. He's a retired police chief from Carlsbad."

Just a few days earlier, Jim Hawks spoke with his younger brother about Skylar and Jennifer Deleon buying the boat.

"It was very brief," Jim says of the call. "You know just, 'Hey ugly.' We called each other that. And, uh, 'if you need help when you get ready to move, just let us know.'"

But it had been about a week since that final conversation. Jim decided to take a look at his brother's boat, which was tied up back in Newport Beach. "We circled the boat on its mooring and noticed things out of place," he tells Maureen Maher.

Then, Jim Hawks and a friend boarded the Well Deserved. "I said, 'Be careful. Don't touch any smooth surface… Let's treat this like it could be a crime scene."

Ryan Hawks called his brother. "And he finally said it out loud. I'm like, 'Well what do you think is going on, Matt?' And he's like, 'They're dead. I think they're dead.'"

Eleven days after Tom and Jackie last left port, Jim Hawks filed a missing persons report. That's when Det. Dave Byington and Sgt. Evan Sailor drew the case of a lifetime.

"When did you first hear the names Skylar and Jennifer Deleon?" asks Maher.

"Actually, the Deleons were both listed in the initial missing persons report," says Byington.

Within days, Skylar Deleon agreed to be interviewed. Cool, calm and collected, the con man spun his tale.

Deleon told the cops he'd just bought the Well Deserved and that he'd never even taken it out of the harbor. He told police he'd paid Tom Hawks in cash, and that Tom and Jackie had said something about heading down to Mexico.

"As far as we know, they are down in San Carlos right now," Deleon told investigators.

When asked where he got over $400,000 in cash to pay for the boat, Deleon told investigators the cash was profit from a drug deal: "$60,000 here, $90,000 there."

We're talking about this money he had to launder. He was very at ease telling us this stuff," says Sailor.

Deleon confessing to a crime threw off investigators. Plus, he had all the paperwork to prove the boat was legally his - the documents he'd forced Tom and Jackie to sign. He tells police that neither he nor his wife had anything to do with the Hawkses disappearance.

Police also spoke to Jennifer Deleon. For the most part, cops bought the couple's story just like the Hawkses had.

Byington says he was convinced they were telling the truth.

But the couple's story began to fall apart when they went to Tom and Jackie's bank. With the phony power of attorney document, they tried to make a withdrawal.

"We've got surveillance video of her smiling ear-to-ear, you know, basically trying to steal these people's money," says Byington.

Then, police got a tip from Skylar Deleon's parole officer learning that he'd asked permission to leave the country. Concerned he was a flight risk, Deleon was arrested - but not for murder.

"He just kept asking me 'What am I being charged with?' Once I told him it was money laundering, I could see kind of like a sigh of relief," says Sailor.

That feeling wouldn't last long. Police moved in, searching the cramped garage apartment the Deleons had so desperately wanted to leave behind. It was there that they found items belonging to Tom and Jackie Hawks.

"We found their video camera… Jackie's laptop computer… and then the batteries to Tom and Jackie's Sprint Nextel phones," says Sailor.

On Dec. 16, police got a call from San Miguel Village, Mexico, saying that the Hawkses vehicle was there.

"And then we come to find out… the vehicle had been dropped off by Skylar about a week earlier and that following him in another car was his wife Jennifer," says Byington.

It was time for investigators to talk with the district attorney.

"We hit it out of the ballpark getting Matt Murphy as our D.A.," says Byington.

Murphy quickly grasped the enormity of what had happened.

"Tom and Jackie Hawks were not only really good people, they were totally innocent," he says.

But Murphy had a problem. He had never dealt with a crime scene like this before and he knew very little about boats. But he knew someone who did: Salty Sam, a.k.a. Gary Burns - a friend of Murphy's located 6,000 miles away in Darwin, Australia.

"He's a character. He's been on boats pretty much his whole life," says Murphy, who called Burns and described the shadowy outlines of the case.

"I called Matt back and said… 'A boat that size would probably have, for sure, two anchors,'" Burns says. "Get your guys to go on board the boat and count the anchors around there. And they'll probably be missing one."

"Sure enough, just like Gary said, there was an anchor that should have been on the boat, and wasn't," says Murphy.

Now that investigators had their theory, what they needed was an eyewitness. And Skylar Deleon provided one during his police interview: Alonso Machain.

Deleon told police Machain had been with him when he bought the boat and could back up his story. Deleon bet wrong.

"[Machain] is the only one on this investigation that actually had a conscience," says Sailor. "And it was that guilty conscience eating and eating at him."

Skylar Deleon's Police Interview Excerpts Alonso Machain's Police Interview Excerpts Pictures: Murder at Sea

After briefly fleeing to Mexico, Machain returned to Newport Beach and made a full confession about his involvement - " I was able to cuff Ms. Hawks" - and every horrific detail of the murders.

Alonso Machain : Skylar was looking for an anchor to push them over… Sgt. Dave Byington : How was Skylar acting when he threw them off the boat? Machain : He was calm. It was like the most normal thing.

Machain also told police about the muscle for the murder: gang member John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

In March 2005, Machain, JFK and mastermind Skylar Deleon are all charged with the murders of Tom and Jackie Hawks.

Jennifer Deleon told a local news crew her husband was innocent.

Reporter : Would your husband want to kill somebody for their money? Jennifer : No. That's not him.

But Matt Murphy and company weren't done yet. They had the alleged killers who'd been on the boat. Now it was time to focus on the one who dialed into the murder on a cell phone.

"In the time they were killed, he made a call to Jennifer. When they were turning back after throwing these poor people off the boat, he made a call to Jennifer," says Byington.

Reporter : What if they try and point the finger at you and say you were involved? Jennifer (holding her baby) : You have to be positive and hope that it won't come to that and take you away from your kid.

A month after her husband was charged, Jennifer Deleon was also charged with first-degree murder. Murphy was determined to get justice for Tom and Jackie Hawks.

"Thomas and Jackie Hawks were thrown overboard alive and begging for their lives," Murphy tells Maher. "It's as ruthless and dark and cold blooded as any murder capable of being committed by another human being."

Prosecutor Matt Murphy was working overtime preparing to bring Skylar Deleon and his crew, who were each charged with two counts of murder, to justice.

"This very well-thought-out diabolical plot to do this, they thought they were gonna get away with it because the bodies have never and will never be recovered," says Murphy.

With Deleon his prime target, Murphy approached Deleon's wife, Jennifer, with a deal.

"We offered her immunity," says Murphy. "We offered her a complete walk initially in the investigation… She said, "No.'"

Jennifer Deleon refused to testify against her husband. But Skylar was willing to tell "48 Hours Mystery" about Jennifer. He explains that it was actually his wife's idea to kill the couple. "She threw it out there - 'What if they're not here?' and I agreed."

Jennifer Deleon was the first to stand trial. On Nov. 17, 2006, she's found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to two life terms in a California prison.

Skylar Deleon would be tried next. But his attorney, Gary Pohlson, says there's not a chance of his client testifying, because "he's told so many lies."

And it turns out that Tom and Jackie Hawks may not be Deleon's only victim.

Pohlson wouldn't let Deleon tell "48 Hours Mystery" about John Jarvi - a man Deleon says he met at Seal Beach Jail and targeted a year before he met Tom and Jackie.

"He conned John Jarvi into taking out $50,000 on his condo and told John Jarvi some sort of story that he bought into and convinced John Jarvi to accompany him… down into Mexico," Murphy explains. "And led him down into a ravine, and there Skylar Deleon cut his throat."

Deleon is charged with John Jarvi's murder, leaving no question that the con man is also a cold-blooded killer.

"Did you kill Tom and Jackie Hawks?" Maher asks Deleon. He replies, "According to the law and stuff like that, yes."

The three killings are merged into one trial and it didn't take long for a verdict. Deleon is convicted of the murders of Tom and Jackie Hawks and John Jarvi.

Gary Pohlson was fighting to keep Deleon off death row. But those who treasure the memory of Tom and Jackie had very different ideas.

Ryan Hawks is hoping for the death penalty. So is Det. Dave Byington. "If anyone deserves the death penalty it's Skylar Deleon," he says.

Saying he is not afraid to die, Deleon's life hung in the balance; Yet, he was still blaming everyone but himself.

"The feeling I'm getting from you," notes Maher, "is that you're this little weaselly guy who's trying to make his wife happy. You concoct this big scheme and then you lost control of it… That's the part people will hold you responsible for."

"Uh, huh," he agrees.

And the people did hold him responsible. On April 10, 2009, Skylar Deleon is sentenced to death .

"It wasn't a good feeling or exciting. It was sad," Ryan says of hearing the verdict. "It was all over and my parents are still missing. And I'll never get to bury them. I'll never get to say goodbye. And that bothers me."

In death, as in life, Tom and Jackie Hawks touched everyone they ever met.

"Every day I look at the ocean, and I say, 'Hi' to Tom and Jackie. Every day I make a point of saying hello to them both." And, says Byington, he probably always will.

Alonso Machain was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years in prison.

More from CBS News

A receipt from Target, a stolen car in Mexico and a third unsolved murder: Investigation into yacht murder of California couple

Hawks worked for decades toward their dream - then, strangers took it all away.

Tom Hawks, a Vietnam veteran and father of two boys, had a beautiful dream: to retire in his 50s and live on a boat with his wife Jackie. He eventually achieved it after prudently saving and investing his money for decades. But over the course of a week, another couple — complete strangers to the Hawks — took it all away.

After planning for years, Tom and Jackie Hawks eventually bought a 55-foot trawler yacht for about $300,000 and named it the “Well Deserved,” which their tight-knit circle of friends and family agreed was perfectly fitting.

PHOTO: Tom Hawks, a Vietnam veteran and father of two boys, had a beautiful dream: to retire in his 50s and live on a boat with his wife Jackie.

The couple outfitted the vessel with the latest technology and for two years traveled from their Newport Beach mooring along the California coast and to Mexico. Then, when their younger son, Matt, told them he and his wife were going to have a baby, they decided to sell the boat and get a house back on land to be closer to their grandchild.

Watch the full story on "20/20" FRIDAY at 9 p.m. ET

On November 12, 2004, the couple took their last trip to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, California, to commemorate their passion project’s imminent sale. By this time, Tom and Jackie Hawks had told family and friends that they’d found a buyer and that the sale was going to take place in the next few days.

PHOTO: Tom and Jackie Hawks outfitted the Well Deserved with the latest technology and for two years traveled from their Newport Beach dock along the California coast and to Mexico.

“Next thing you know is, no one could get a hold of them,” their son, Ryan Hawks, told “20/20.” “For them just to shut off their cell phones and drop off the face of the earth is...extremely out of character.”

The family found the Well Deserved moored in its usual berth at Newport Beach but the couple and their car — a silver Honda CR-V — were nowhere to be found.

PHOTO: Tom Hawks, a Vietnam veteran and father of two boys, had a beautiful dream: to retire in his 50s and live on a boat with his wife Jackie.

“My uncle knew something was…wrong right away,” said Ryan Hawks, adding that his uncle had noticed the dinghy his parents used to get to their yacht hadn’t been tied properly to the dock and its motor hadn’t been lifted from the water. “My uncle was a hundred percent positive that my dad didn’t leave the boat that way.”

Tom Hawks’ friend Don Trefren also noticed things were out of place on the yacht.

“I noticed that the tarps up above on the deck, on the flying bridge, were all off. All the controls were just kind of peeled back and there was a towel hanging out one of the portholes,” Trefren told “20/20.” “I got a sick feeling in my stomach, you know, just like, just a sick feeling that something wasn't right.”

PHOTO: Tom Hawks, a Vietnam veteran and father of two boys, had a beautiful dream: to retire in his 50s and live on a boat with his wife Jackie.

The receipt from Target

The couple’s tight-knit group of friends and family knew Tom and Jackie Hawks had gone with the prospective purchaser to take the boat out for a test ride. They also knew that the buyer of the boat was likely the last person to have seen them.

Jim Hawks, Tom Hawks’ brother and a retired police officer, left a note on the Well Deserved with his phone number in hopes that the buyer would contact him.

It was Jennifer Deleon who called him back, telling him she and her husband Skylar had paid for the boat with cash in full. Still suspicious, Jim Hawks reached out to Trisha Schutz, a friend of the family who managed the missing couple’s finances while they were traveling.

“Tom and Jackie, if they would have sold that boat, they would have deposited that money into their bank account,” Schutz told “20/20.” “There was no activity on their account. So we knew that something was really wrong. [Jim Hawks] told me that he was gonna contact the police department and file a missing persons report.”

PHOTO: Tom and Jackie Hawks eventually bought a 55-foot trawler yacht for $300,000 and named it the “Well Deserved,” which their tight-knit circle of friends and family agreed was perfectly fitting.

Newport Beach police took on the case once a missing persons report was filed, nearly two weeks after the couple’s disappearance.

“This couple…were in the process of selling, or sold a vessel to this other couple, Skylar and Jennifer Deleon,” Newport Beach Det. Sgt. Dave Byington, now retired, told “20/20.” “Skylar happens to be a convicted felon. He's on probation. I go, ‘Geez… OK, well this doesn't sound good right now.’”

MORE: Yacht Murderer: I 'Never Really Felt Evil'

Skylar Deleon had a troubled childhood. He had been a child actor, with one of his most prominent roles as an extra in the 1990s TV show “Power Rangers.” Later, he met Jennifer online, got married, and had a little girl. He was expecting another child with her at the time that the Hawks went missing.

Jennifer, a hairstylist, was the breadwinner for the family while they lived in a converted garage behind her parents’ home in Long Beach. Given their living situation, the couple did not seem to police like buyers of such an extravagant yacht.

Police searched the Well Deserved, where they found a receipt from Target. The purchase, which was dated two days after the day friends said the Hawks were taking the prospective buyer for a test ride, listed trash bags, bleach and the antacid Tums.

“If I was going to kill somebody, I'd have my clean kit. And it would be bags to get rid of evidence, bleach to wipe down the scene and maybe, if I had a conscience, some Tums to settle my stomach after killing some poor people,” Byington said.

Target was able to provide surveillance photos of the purchaser to police. But investigators, who expected to see Skylar Deleon buying the supplies, were surprised to find Steve Henderson, Jennifer Deleon’s father, in the photos instead.

PHOTO: Police obtained a search warrant for the boat, where they found a receipt from Target, which listed trash bags, bleach and the antacid Tums in the purchase.

Police learned Jennifer Deleon sent her father to buy the bleach, Tums and trash bags so the couple could help clean their new boat. Henderson pointed investigators to a nearby church that he said the couple was helping to clean.

“When I see a family volunteering in a church, I was put at ease a little bit with that, thinking, ‘OK, this is going to turn out OK. The Hawks are fine,’” Byington said. “I was talking to Jennifer and basically said, ‘We're looking for the Hawks. The family's very concerned.’ And she said, and she was very genuine, she goes, ‘We're really concerned, too.’”

“Then she goes, ‘We've been trying to reach out to them continually since we bought it.’ She said they have a lot of property, clothes and stuff. ‘We don't know what to do,’” Byington continued. “She was very specific and seemed very genuine in her concern for the Hawks and finding them. Skylar…proceeded to tell me the same thing that Jennifer did.”

Skylar Deleon produced paperwork for the boat’s purchase, complete with signatures, fingerprints and a notary public’s certification.

Much to their surprise, Skylar Deleon openly admitted to police that he used drug money to buy the vessel.

“At this point, I already knew that Skylar was on probation for armed burglary, so he's a felon,” Byington said.

“‘I'm telling you, Sergeant, I want to go straight with my family. I'm a father now. I have another child on the way and I want to do the right thing. So I'm trying to invest this money in a way that I can support them,’”Byington said Deleon told him.

MORE: A Moving Love Story, Drowned by Greed

Deleon told police that on Nov. 15, 2004, he paid the couple for the Well Deserved, presenting them with a briefcase full of cash in the parking lot near the moored yacht. Deleon said that his wife, child, a notary public and a friend from Mexico, Alonso Machain, were also there for the transaction.

“According to Skylar, Tom [Hawks] asked him, ‘Is it all here?’ Skylar kind of giggled at me and said, ‘Yep, it's all there.’ And so they basically said, ‘Here's the keys to the yacht,’” Byington said. “Tom and Jackie drove off in the Honda and Skylar and Jennifer said that was the last time that they saw them.”

The 1998 silver Honda CR-V

Nearly a month after his parents vanished, Ryan Hawks was urged by his uncle to go to the media to ask the public for help after investigators hit a dead end.

A retired couple in San Miguel, Mexico, heard his plea, telling police that they saw the missing couple’s 1998 silver Honda CR-V parked next to a mobile home.

The mobile home’s owner told Mexican authorities he didn’t know Tom or Jackie Hawks, but that the car was given to him from a friend: Skylar Deleon.

“And at that moment…any possibility that the Hawks were still alive died right there, unfortunately,” Byington said.

PHOTO: Tom and Jackie Hawk's 1998 silver Honda CR-V was found in Mexico.

Caitlin Rother, a consultant for “20/20” on this story and author of “ Dead Reckoning ” about this case, said with the discovery of the car, police “realized that Skylar Deleon and Jennifer, who is also described [by others at the mobile home park], had been down there.”

“They had, now, witnesses who knew them and [the witnesses] said, ‘[The Deleons] gave us this car,’” Rother said.

“Skylar murdered these people,” Byington said he concluded after finding the Hawks’ car. But investigators still didn’t have enough to prove it.

On Dec. 17, 2004, police arrested Skylar Deleon on money laundering charges while they continued investigating him for the murder of the Hawks.

Investigators searched the Deleon’s home, finding the Hawks’ laptop and their video camera, which the Deleons used to document the Thanksgiving that the Hawks never got to spend with their family.

For months after Skylar's arrest, Jennifer Deleon continued to insist on her husband’s innocence in the Hawks’ disappearance, even declining an offer of immunity in exchange for information as to the whereabouts of the Hawks.

A third murder

Newport Police discovered another interesting clue in the Deleon’s home – a business card for Los Angeles Police Department Det. Joe Bahena, who worked as a liaison with Mexican police. They found that Bahena was helping Ensenada State Police investigate the case of Jon Jarvi. Jarvi had been found murdered with his throat cut in Mexico in 2003.

PHOTO: John Jarvi had been found murdered with his throat cut in Mexico in 2003.

Jarvi met Deleon while the two were serving time at the City of Seal Beach jail, where some inmates were allowed to go out during the day on work release. After Jarvi was freed, he stayed in touch with Deleon, who promised him a big score.

MORE: Tearful Testimony in Yacht Murder Trial

In December 2003, a year before the Hawks’ disappearance, Deleon sold Jarvi on a business proposition to make a large sum of money – Jarvi gave Deleon $50,000 in cash, then accompanied Deleon to Mexico where he was supposed to complete the big score Deleon told him about. Jarvi never returned.

“There never was any deal in Mexico,” Jeff Jarvi, Jon’s brother, told “20/20.” “He took my brother down there with, specifically with the role of murdering him.”

Mexican police questioned the Deleons at the time, but Jarvi’s case remained unsolved until Newport Beach detectives started working the Hawks case.

The dominoes fall

Kathleen Harris, the notary who certified the paperwork for the sale of the Well Deserved, was interviewed by police several times. She repeatedly denied that anything was amiss, until the day she came clean.

“She came in and she said she'd never met Tom and Jackie Hawks. She had nothing to do with the murder,” former Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy, now an ABC News consultant, said. “She was given documents and paid in cash to backdate the documents. And so she backdated them to Nov. 15, which was the day that they went missing.”

“That was the first domino to fall,” Byington said. “Then we started pressuring everybody else because we knew everybody else had lied to us, too.”

Alonso Machain was the next to reveal his role in the murder. He told police that he first met Skylar Deleon when he was a jailer at the City of Seal Beach jail. Machain admitted he took part in the murders and revealed the full scope of the murder conspiracy to investigators.

PHOTO: Alonso Machain, appears at his arraignment in Orange County Superior Court, Mar. 4, 2005, in Newport Beach, Calif.

Machain said Skylar Deleon convinced him that Deleon was an international hitman and that he needed to take out Tom and Jackie Hawks because they were evil.

Machain told police that on November 15, 2004, he, Skylar Deleon and another accomplice, John Kennedy, set out toward Santa Catalina Island on the Well Deserved with Tom and Jackie Hawks on a “sea trial,” or a test run of the boat.

Machain said Skylar Deleon and Kennedy overpowered Tom Hawks and handcuffed him, while Machain subdued and handcuffed Jackie Hawks. Machain said he, on Deleon’s orders, taped over the couple’s eyes and mouths and tied them together as Deleon navigated the boat toward the deepest point of the sea. Machain said they then tied the couple, handcuffed, to one of the yacht’s anchors – then Deleon threw the anchor overboard and it dragged the couple over the side.

Jennifer was not on the boat during the murders. So it came as a surprise to many when she, too, was arrested, just weeks after giving birth to her second child. Investigators discovered that Skylar and Jennifer spoke by phone numerous times on the day Jon Jarvi was murdered, and again when the Hawks were killed.

“That woman was physically not on the boat during the murders, but she was absolutely on the boat with guidance in spirit,” said Matt Murphy.

Machain testified in three separate trials against Jennifer and Skylar Deleon, as well as Kennedy. In a deal with the prosecution, he pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years and four months in prison.

In 2006, Jennifer Deleon was convicted of the murders of Tom and Jackie Hawks and later sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole. She was charged in connection to Jarvi’s murder, which she denied any involvement in. In a preliminary hearing before her trial for the Hawks’ murders, a judge dismissed that charge.

Nearly two years later, Skylar went to trial for the murder of Tom and Jackie Hawks and Jon Jarvi. He was convicted of all three murders.

PHOTO: In October 2007, Jennifer Deleon was convicted for the murder of Tom and Jackie Hawks and sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.

John Kennedy was also convicted of the Hawks’ murders, and like Skylar Deleon, sentenced to death. Both remain on death row today.

PHOTO: Skylar Julius Deleon, 27, is shown July 31, 2006, a the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, Calif.

“At the end of the day, they all get what they deserve,” Byington said. “Only Alonso [Machain] will ever see the light of day again. He got sentenced to 20 years and he actually will be out soon.”

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Former child actor admits killing couple for yacht

For nearly four years, Ryan and Matt Hawks have felt certain that a former small-time child actor masterminded the vicious murder of their parents, who were tied to the anchor of their yacht and thrown to their deaths in the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island.

The brothers sat in the TODAY studio in New York Friday with the show’s co-host, Meredith Vieira, and looked at photographs of their father, Tom Hawks, and stepmother, Jennifer Hawks, tanned and smiling aboard the “Well Deserved,” the 55-foot yacht they had saved a lifetime to buy.

Two days earlier, the attorney for Skylar Deleon, who once had a non-speaking bit part in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” admitted in an Orange County, Calif., courtroom that Deleon was the mastermind of the plot to murder the Hawks and steal their yacht. The admission was made during opening arguments in the trial, which is no longer about whether Deleon did it, but what his sentence should be: death, or life behind bars.

Back to land Tom Hawks had planned for most of his life to retire on a yacht with his second wife, Jackie. A body builder and probation officer, he realized his dream while still in his mid-50s.

After cruising the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez off Mexico for two years, the Hawks had decided to sell their boat to move back to Arizona, where they could be closer to their first grandson. Their sons, Matt and Ryan, looked forward to having them back home and sharing their lives with them.

“They realized there was more to life than this boat and seeing the curve of the earth, and that’s what really made them want to sell the boat and come back and be a part of our lives, and especially part of their grandson’s life,” Ryan Hawks told Vieira.

He last talked to his parents by phone on Nov. 14, 2004, the day they disappeared. “I was flying to Seattle for work,” Ryan Hawks said. “It was on the last voyage of ‘Well Deserved.’ I kind of pushed them off the phone; I was running late for a plane. I just felt bad. I had no idea that was the last time I’d talk to them.”

On that day, Tom, 57, and Jackie, 47, set sail for Catalina Island on a test cruise with Skylar Deleon and two other men, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Alonso Machain. Deleon was a smooth-talking 29-year-old career criminal who bragged about being a former child television star who wanted to buy the boat. In reality, Deleon had had just one non-speaking bit part in 1994 on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” and had been in trouble almost ever since. He introduced Kennedy and Machain as his accountants.

Thieves fall out Machain admitted his role in 2005 and is awaiting sentencing. Kennedy is to be tried next year. The fourth member of the plot, Deleon’s former wife, Jennifer Henderson, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder last year and will spend the rest of her life in prison.

According to that confession, after overpowering the Hawks with a stun gun, the conspirators forced them to sign over title to the yacht. Then, duct-taped together and tied to an anchor, they were thrown into the ocean to drown. Their bodies were never recovered.

Now Ryan and Matt Hawks just want to see justice served on Deleon, who, according to his own lawyer, Gary Pohlson, also killed another man in 2003. Deleon committed that murder when he was on work furlough from a sentence he was serving for burglary.

Pohlson told the jury Tuesday that his purpose in admitting Deleon is guilty was to save his client from the death penalty.

Justice at last Matt Hawks said when he heard Pohlson’s statement, “I was kind of relieved in a way, just [at] the thought that they’re admitting guilt. It’s been four years; it’s been a long time. I’m looking forward to this trial, and I’m sure the jurors will make the correct decision.”

Ryan Hawks said it isn’t easy being at the trial and hearing again about the murders. But, he told Vieira, “It’s important to us as a family, because this is the last thing we’ll ever get to do for our parents. And as much as it hurts, we just need to be there and represent them. We’re a true testament to our parents’ parenting, and we feel it’s necessary.”

Matt Hawks said the hardest part for him is thinking about what he and his two children are missing. “It’s just been very difficult,” he said. “I’m raising two beautiful children now. And I don’t have the grandparents so that they can share their lives with them. It’s just very hard not having them around to share the best part of our life, and the best part of our family’s life with them.”

Both brothers said their parents had talked about their plans to sell the yacht and move back home. The parents mentioned that the man who wanted to buy it was a former child star, but neither of the two sons had ever watched “Power Rangers,” so they weren’t especially impressed.

“I was just happy they were selling the boat and coming back to spend a lot more time with [their grandchildren],” Matt Hawks recalled. “They’d be much more grounded with my family. We’d be able to travel out to see them, as I was able to back when I didn’t have children.

“I was looking forward to them coming home.”

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California Mother Convicted in Plot to Kill Couple for Yacht Sentenced to Life Terms

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A 26-year-old mother of two young children was sentenced Friday to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole for her role in a plot to kill a wealthy couple for their yacht.

Jennifer Deleon was convicted last year of two counts of first-degree murder and murder for financial gain.

She was not on board in 2004, when the victims were tied to an anchor and thrown over the side of their 55-foot yacht, the "Well Deserved."

Authorities said, however, that Deleon helped her then-husband with the murders by using their infant daughter to gain the trust of victims Tom and Jackie Hawks. Deleon was also pregnant at the time.

She was also accused of helping cover up the crime by cleaning the yacht with bleach and lying to investigators.

During the brief sentencing hearing, Deleon was urged to give up her children by Ryan Hawks, 31, the son of the victims. The children are living with Deleon's mother.

"I know the best possible future they could ever have is them growing up in an environment not knowing who their biological parents were, what they did and how the children themselves were used as decoys to murder my parents for financial gain," Hawks said, holding back tears.

A handcuffed Deleon, who is now divorced and uses the name Jennifer Henderson, appeared emotional and tried to wipe away tears after making eye contact with family members in the courtroom. Her children were not present.

She did not speak before being sentenced by Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel.

Her ex-husband, Skylar Deleon, and another alleged accomplice, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, could face the death penalty if convicted of the murders at a trial expected to begin in January. They have pleaded not guilty.

Tom and Jackie Hawks vanished after taking Skylar Deleon and two of his friends on a test cruise off Newport Bay. The couple thought the men were interested in buying the yacht.

Two other men accused of participating in the plot will have a separate trial.

Prosecutors have said Skylar Deleon asked his wife to bring their 9-month-old daughter to the docks to put the victims at ease before the cruise.

Skylar Deleon called off an earlier plan to kill the Hawkses when he realized that Tom Hawks was a retired probation officer in good physical condition, according to testimony at Jennifer Deleon's trial.

Skylar Deleon then spent another week recruiting Kennedy and refining his plan before setting up the test cruise, Alonso Machain, another suspected accomplice, has testified.

Machain said the Hawkses were blindfolded and handcuffed after he, Kennedy and Skylar Deleon overpowered them on the open sea.

The victims were then forced to sign and fingerprint documents transferring ownership of the "Well Deserved" to Deleon before being tied to an anchor and pushed overboard, Machain testified. Their bodies have never been found.

Machain testified that Tom Hawks tried to hold his crying wife's hand and comfort her in the moments before they died.

Evidence at the trial also showed that Jennifer and Skylar Deleon were in cell phone contact the entire time the three men were on board the yacht.

Ryan Hawks said after the hearing that he is haunted because the bodies have never been found.

"Right now, I can tell you they are 3,600 feet below the cold Pacific Ocean, bound to an anchor, handcuffed and blindfolded, and I think that anchor will hold them down until justice has prevailed," he said.

"It's one down and three to go, so we're not quite there yet ... but we'll be there," he said.

Prosecutors contended that after the killings, Jennifer Deleon helped clean the boat and lied to investigators. She also conspired to make it seem as if the Hawkses had moved to Mexico. authorities said.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta has said that his client wasn't aware of the plot when she brought the baby to the harbor. He said that after the killings, Jennifer Deleon went along with her husband's demands because she was afraid of what he might do to her.

Tom and Jackie Hawks, of Prescott, Ariz., had been living aboard the "Well Deserved" for about two years in what was the realization of a longtime dream, friends and family have said.

They later decided to sell the cabin cruiser and buy a smaller vessel and a home in Mexico.

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Yacht from murder for sale

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the ninth in a series of the top stories of each year since 2000. Look for the 2009 story of the year Thursday.

The 55-foot yacht where Thomas and Jackie Hawks met their fate between Newport Beach and Catalina Island is still up for sale at a local yacht brokerage firm.

Yacht broker Jerry Wakefield of Dixon Yachts International in Newport Beach has had serious buyers look at the Well Deserved, a fiberglass Lien Hwa trawler with a hand-carved teak interior, but none have been able to put the funds together to finance the boat.

Because of the bad economy, it’s harder for potential buyers to finance an older boat like the Well Deserved, Wakefield said.

“It’s just about getting the right person in it,” he said.

The Well Deserved was released earlier this year to Thomas Hawks’ sons, Ryan and Matt Hawks, after sitting in a city shipyard for the past four years, a piece of evidence in one of the most publicized murder cases of the past decade.

The sons put the boat up for sale last summer.

Attempts to reach Ryan Hawks, who has acted as a spokesman for the family in the past, were unsuccessful.

“I know it’s been tough for them because it’s pretty much the worst time to sell a yacht in this economy and it’s a notorious boat now,” said Orange County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy, who prosecuted the case.

The boat is priced at $229,000, a little more than half what the Hawkses were asking for it in 2004, when con man Skylar Deleon convinced the couple he was a successful former child actor with money to burn who wanted to purchase the vessel.

Deleon, 30, who once had a bit part on the television show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” was convicted in 2008 of conning the Hawkses into showing him the Well Deserved before he and two other men bound and gagged the couple, lashed them to the anchor and tossed them overboard. Their bodies were never found.

In April, Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel handed Deleon a death sentence for the Hawkses’ murders and the separate 2003 murder of Anaheim resident Jon Jarvi.

Deleon is incarcerated at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. The men’s prison is reserved for inmates with serious mental or physical health problems.

Citing state and federal privacy laws, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Tuesday that they could not disclose why Deleon was being held at the medical facility instead of San Quentin State Prison, where most death row inmates reside.

Calls to Deleon’s attorney, Gary Pohlson, were not immediately returned.

Deleon’s accomplice, Long Beach Insane Crips gang member John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was also sentenced to death in May.

Deleon’s ex-wife, Jennifer Henderson, was convicted for her role in the Hawks killings in 2007 and sentenced to life without parole. Henderson helped Deleon gain the Hawkses’ trust by visiting the Well Deserved with her infant daughter. She was also pregnant with her and Deleon’s second child at the time of the murders.

Another accomplice, Alonso Machain, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the Hawkses’ deaths as part of a plea agreement. Myron Gardner, who played a tangential role in the murders, was sentenced to a year in jail and given credit for time served.

The fact that Jackie Hawks cried and begged Deleon to spare her life that November night in 2004, while lashed to the anchor of the Well Deserved will always stick with Murphy, he said.

“It was a horrific way to die, crying and begging for her life,” Murphy said. “The lingering thing for me is how do you cry and hold your breath at the same time.”

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The Gruesome Yacht Murder Case of Thomas and Jackie Hawks

  • Well Deserved

Monday, Nov. 15, 2004, was the perfect day for a cruise. Clear and bright, the temperature was in the mid-70s with winds less than 10 mph. A typical California day.

It was at times such as this that Thomas and Jackie Hawks probably felt twinges of regret for deciding to sell their beloved 55-foot yacht, the Well Deserved . The vessel had been their home for the previous three years as they had cruised the western coast of Mexico, living a life of which most people can only dream. The retired couple had advertised their yacht for sale in a boating magazine, wanting to find owners who would take good care of it.

Skylar and Jennifer Deleon seemed to fit that bill. Young, charming, good looking, with one daughter and another on the way, the Deleons appeared to be the perfect buyers. Skylar identified himself as a former actor and entrepreneur, Jennifer a hairdresser. On a prior visit to see the yacht, Jackie had been won over by the couple's infant daughter and couldn't help talking about how excited she was to see her stepson's new baby.

The deal appeared to be settled; all that remained was a test cruise. Skylar arrived around 3:30 p.m. with two men he introduced as his accountant and a friend, John F. Kennedy and Alonso Machain, respectively. The Well Deserved was docked at Newport Harbor, and the group would sail off the coast of Orange County. Jackie made a cell phone call to a friend at 4:06 p.m. saying "We're out at sea." It was the last anyone would hear from them.

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Luxury rules at the moscow yacht show.

by Maria Sapozhnikova

55 foot yacht the well deserved

The windy Russian autumn weather might be a little bit tricky for sailing, but it doesn’t stop brave yachtsmen from all over the world from flocking to Russian capital in the beginning of September when the Moscow Yacht Show commences. The main Russian Yacht exhibition gathers professional and amateur yacht lovers together under the wing of The Royal Yacht Club.

This year it took place for a fourth time already. The exhibition is considered the principal event on the sporting and social calendar. The Moscow Yacht Show 2010 united in one area three of the largest Russian yachts distributors: Ultramarine, Nordmarine and Premium Yachts.

A wide range of yachts were on display for a week. An exhibition showcased yachts both from Russian manufacturers and world famous brands: Azimut, Princess, Ferretti, Pershing, Riviera, Doral, Linssen, etc.

It was a real feast for seafarers as visitors of the show had a unique chance not only to take a look at the newest superyachts before they hit the market, but also to evaluate their driving advantages during the test drive. The show provided an excellent opportunity for yacht enthusiasts to choose and buy a new boat for the next season.

The event started with the grandiose gala evening. It included grand dinner, the concert and professional awards ceremony for achievements in Russian yachting industry. The guests also enjoyed the annual regatta.

Special guest Paolo Vitelli, Azimut Benetti Group president, opened the evening.

Next year organizers assured guests they would bring more yachts, the scale of which will even make oligarch Roman Abramovich envious. Sounds very promising indeed.


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Timeline of the Tom and Jackie Hawks ‘murder…

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Timeline of the tom and jackie hawks ‘murder yacht’ trial.


After three years sailing the seas off the coast of California and Mexico aboard their yacht , Thomas and Jackie Hawks yearned in 2004 to return to Prescott, Ariz., so they could be near their first grandchild. After a cruise Nov. 15, 2004, with prospective buyer Skylar Deleon, the Hawkses were never seen again.

Here is a chronology of developments in their disappearance:

Fall 2004 : Thomas and Jackie Hawks advertise their yacht, the 55-foot Well Deserved, for sale for $440,000. They invite Skylar Deleon, 25, and his wife Jennifer Henderson Deleon, 23, aboard to look around. Skylar Deleon tells the Hawkses he has plenty of money from a career as a child actor. Jennifer Deleon, who is caring for a year-old toddler and is pregnant, puts the Hawkses at ease.

Nov. 15, 2004: Deleon arrives with two men he identifies as friends for what is supposed to be a final shakedown cruise aboard the Well Deserved. One is Alonso Machain, who met Deleon when he was a guard in the Seal Beach City Jail while Deleon was serving time for burglary. The other is John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a hulking street gang member from Long Beach whom Deleon introduces as his accountant.

Later that day: According to testimony given later by Machain – who eventually cooperated with authorities – Thomas Hawks is overpowered at sea by Deleon and Kennedy while Machain subdues Jackie Hawks. The couple is forced to sign sales documents for the Well Deserved. They are blindfolded, handcuffed and tied to an anchor. After a brief skirmish aboard deck, they are thrown overboard. Their bodies have never been recovered.

Nov. 27, 2004: Newport Beach police start a missing-persons investigation after James Hawks, Thomas Hawks’ older brother and a former chief of police in Carlsbad, files a report. Detectives search the Well Deserved, moored in Newport Harbor, and find a receipt for bleach and heavy-gauge garbage bags, dated Nov. 17, and bought by a member of Deleon’s family.

Dec. 16, 2004: Newport Beach police arrest Deleon on money-laundering charges in connection with his claim that he paid cash to buy the Well Deserved. He told police that he got the money from a drug rip-off.

Early 2005: Machain starts to cooperate with police. He says he was present when the Hawkses were lured out to sea, forced to sign legal documents and tossed overboard by Deleon and Kennedy.

March, and April 2005: Deleon, 25, of Long Beach; his wife, Jennifer Henderson Deleon, 23; Machain, 21, of Pico Rivera; Myron Sandora Gardner, 41, of Long Beach; and Kennedy, 40; are arrested and charged with killing the Hawkses. Detectives say Gardner is suspected of introducing Kennedy to Deleon.

August 2005: Four of the defendants are bound over to stand trial after a preliminary hearing before Superior Court Judge John Conley. Machain’s case trails behind the others, and he is deemed a cooperating government witness.

Sept. 6, 2006: The Orange County District Attorney’s Office decides to seek the death penalty for Deleon and Kennedy, contending that they committed multiple murders for financial gain.

Nov. 18, 2006: Jennifer Deleon, who was tried alone, is convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. She is later sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Her two children with Skylar Deleon are being raised by her parents.

Sept. 12, 2008: Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel consolidates the prosecution of the Hawkses killing with another case, in which Deleon is accused of enticing Jon P. Jarvi into giving him $50,000 in cash in an investment scheme, and then killing the Anaheim man in Mexico for the money.

Sept. 22, 2008: Jury selection begins in “People v. Skylar Deleon.”

Oct. 7, 2008: Opening statements in Deleon’s trial are expected to begin.

Contact the writer: [email protected] or 714-834-3784

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To be represented by Premium Yachts, Ferretti Yachts and Riva , two prestigious brands of the Ferretti Group, will be present at the Moscow International Boat Show 2013, displaying motor yacht Ferretti 530 as well as Riva Iseo yacht tender.

Luxury motor yacht Ferretti 530

Luxury motor yacht Ferretti 530

Luxury yacht Ferretti 530 was very keen to undertake in collaboration once again with AYT – Advanced Yacht Technology, Ferretti Group Engineering Division and Studio Zuccon International Project . The compact dimensions, 16 meters long and almost 5 meters wide, allow the 530 yacht to deliver grand Italian luxury and cruising immersed in such comfort until now unheard of in a yacht of this size.

Ferretti 530 yacht boasts three revolutionary innovations: the full beam master cabin with chaise longue and two large open view windows that make it a real suite at sea level bathed in light, tones and the natural essences of teak. Moving the galley from the center to the aft section creates a unique open space that includes the saloon, galley, cocktail bar and the dining area, the cockpit area continues thanks to the tilting window. The roll bar free sky lounge and the spoiler allow the 530 a sporty appearance combined with elegantly formal lines.

Ferretti 530 Yacht - Interior

Ferretti 530 Yacht - Interior

Riva , the iconic Ferretti Group brand, presented a new model at the historical Lake d’Iseo shipyards in July 2011. Featuring elegance and ease of transportation as its distinctive characteristics, Iseo superyacht tender , a 27 foot runabout, is destined to become a must-have for those who love cruising on both lakes and the sea, and, most importantly, design enthusiasts. It is also perfect for anyone wishing to enhance their yacht with an exclusive tender that will never go unnoticed.

Riva Iseo superyacht tender

Riva Iseo superyacht tender

Due to its ease of manoeuvrability and size, Iseo yacht tender is also ideal as a tender for large yachts. Innovative and elegant, it can also guarantee comfort in bad weather conditions. Besides the electrohydraulic bimini top, it was also designed with a waterproof, automobile-style soft top which protects those on board against water and the wind during cruising.

Please contact CharterWorld - the luxury yacht charter specialist - for more on superyacht news item "Ferretti Yachts and Riva to attend Moscow Boat Show 2013".

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