Tom and Jackie Hawks loved their life in retirement, sailing on their yacht, the Well Deserved. But when the birth of a new grandson called them back to Arizona, they put the boat up for sale. Skylar Deleon and his pregnant wife Jennifer showed up as prospective buyers, with their baby in a stroller, and the Hawkses thought they had a deal. Soon after a sea trial and an alleged purchase, however, the older couple disappeared and the Deleons promptly tried to access the Hawkses’ bank accounts.
As police investigated the case, they not only found a third homicide victim with ties to Skylar, they also uncovered an unexpected and unusual motive: Skylar had wanted gender reassignment surgery for years. By killing the Hawkses with a motley crew of assailants and plundering the couple’s assets, the Deleons had planned to clear their $100,000 in debts and still have money for the surgery, which Skylar had already scheduled.
Now, in this up-to-the-minute updated edition, which includes extensive new material, New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Rother presents the latest breaking developments in the case. Skylar, who was ultimately sentenced to death row for the three murders, transitioned to a woman via hormones while living in the psych unit at San Quentin prison. Recently, she legally changed her name and gender to female, apparently a strategic step in her quest to obtain taxpayer-subsidized gender confirmation surgery and transfer to a women’s prison. Combined with Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent moratorium on executions, this only adds insult to injury for the victims’ families, who want Skylar to receive the ultimate punishment for her crimes.
“Rother gives readers compelling insight to an unthink- able American nightmare. A gripping read . . . frank and frightening . . . it sizzles.” —Aphrodite Jones, host of True Crime for Investigation Discovery Network
From The Book:
Skylar made things even easier for himself by befriending a young, unsophisticated jail guard. Born in Mexico, nineteen-year-old Alonso Machain had a slight build of five feet nine inches, weighed only 135 pounds, and was anything but physically threatening.
After being a C-plus high-school student in the Hispanic community of Pico Rivera, Alonso had graduated into this job on the graveyard shift for $9.50 an hour. This was a pittance compared to the unionized state correctional officers, . . . but hoping to apply to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department someday, he saw the job as a stepping-stone.
With little to do, up all night by himself, he enjoyed listening to Skylar’s stories. At first, he didn’t believe that Skylar had a major role on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but he was convinced after Skylar brought in photos of himself on the set. . .
Skylar said. . . his burglary charge was just a misunderstanding—he and his buddies had broken into a house to play a prank on a friend, dressing up like criminals with weapons. But then the “victim” called the cops and they didn’t believe it was a joke, either. He’d been facing more than fifteen years in prison, but after throwing good money and lawyers at the case, they got his sentence reduced to one year.
As the months went on, Alonso was also lured in by Skylar’s promises to help him get a better paying job at Total Western, where Skylar worked as an electrician’s assistant. That gig was just a hobby for him, he said. His real money—ranging from $100,000 to $4 million a month—came from appraisals he did on his home computer for big lenders such as Washington Mutual, Greenlight, and Ditech, where his mother was a vice president.
Skylar called one day to ask Alonso to retrieve an ATM receipt from his cell before anyone else could find it. Alonso was duly impressed when he found the slip of paper, showing an $80,000 transfer from one account to another. Who had that kind of money just sitting in a bank somewhere?
The two of them often sat and talked or played games on Alonso’s PlayStation until two or three in the morning, while the other prisoners were locked down. . . .
The furlough program allowed inmates to be out for twelve hours during the day, and required them to sign a log on their return. Sometimes Skylar would be late getting back—like the time he showed up with a badly sunburned back after flying someplace in his family’s private jet—but he would usually call Alonso to warn him in advance. Alonso didn’t let any of the other inmates get away with such behavior, but Skylar was different. Besides, Alonso’s supervisors never verified the inmates’ whereabouts.
On December 27, 2003, for example, Skylar left at 8:00 A.M., called the jail and Alonso’s cell phone around 9:00 P.M. to tell him he was running late, but he didn’t arrive until ten. Alonso marked it in the log, then just let it go. . . .
Their friendship grew to the point where Alonso regularly made such allowances for Skylar, even after his superiors tagged him with a weeklong suspension. He was interested in making more money, and with Skylar’s encouragement, he thought he could do it, maybe in real estate. . . .
Skylar . . . confided to Alonso that JP Jarvi had persuaded him to help launder some counterfeit money—made with actual money presses to look legitimate—by renting Skylar’s jet for $50,000, then depositing the cash in one of Skylar’s Mexican accounts. He said he and Jarvi actually had proven the bills were good by changing them for real money at the bank.
The next thing Alonso knew, Jarvi was out of jail and Skylar had another story about him.
“Remember Jarvi?” Skylar asked. “Yeah, what happened?”
“What do you mean ‘he’s gone’?” Alonso asked.
“He’s dead,” Skylar said with a knowing smile, adding that his dad said Jarvi had pissed off some people in Mexico. Skylar seemed to know more than he was saying, but Alonso didn’t press for details because he didn’t really want to know.
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