I’m thrilled to announce that I’m working with WildBlue Press once again, this time to release a newly revised and updated version of my book, DEAD RECKONING, one of my most popular books.
So much has changed since the book was originally released in 2011 that I barely know where to start. But suffice it to say that this meaty update provides lots of up-to-the-minute new material, including recent photos, many of which can be found on the WildBlue photo gallery page for the book (wbp.bz/deadreckoninggallery) as well as a Cast of Primary Characters to make it easier to keep track of who is who.
One of the biggest, most recent breaking-news developments in this book, which tells the story of the murder of Tom and Jackie Hawks by transgender killer Skylar Deleon and her then-wife, Jennifer Henderson, is this: Skylar, one of two transgender women on death row at a men’s prison in California, has just legally become a woman.
That said, we are keeping the original portion of the book as it was first published, using the “he” pronoun for Skylar, because she was still presenting as a man until her arrival at San Quentin, where she transitioned, using hormones. We switch to the “she” pronoun in the updated section at the end of the book, which reflects her transformation and explains all the background in the proper context. We made this distinction, with no disrespect to the LGBTQ community intended, so as not to confuse readers with corrections throughout the book.
Representing herself without an attorney, Skylar petitioned the Marin County Superior Court in February 2019 to change her name to Skylar Preciosa Deleon and her gender to female. A judge granted her petition in May.
This move may put Skylar one step closer to achieving her goals of being transferred to a women’s prison and of obtaining taxpayer-subsidized gender confirmation surgery, which would surely anger the victims’ families as well as many of those who have followed this case since the Hawks were murdered in 2004.
A former child actor, Skylar has already gone by a number of other names. Born John Julius Jacobson, Skylar was named after her father, John Jacobson. John Sr. abused Skylar and both of his wives, and also served time in federal prison for drug trafficking.
Wanting to distance herself from this abusive man, Skylar changed her name to Skylar Julius Deleon around the time she met her future wife Jennifer, apparently because the name Skylar was ambiguous in terms of gender.
Although Skylar was still presenting and identifying as a man when she married Jennifer Henderson, Skylar had been trying on dresses since childhood and knew she wanted what was then known as a sex change operation. Today it’s referred to as gender confirmation surgery.
She wanted that operation so badly, in fact, that she was willing to kill Tom and Jackie Hawks for it.
Deeply in debt, Skylar and Jennifer concocted a scheme to steal the Hawkses’ yacht, the Well Deserved, and pillage their bank accounts. Sure, they wanted to pay off their $100,000 in credit card and other bills, but Skylar had already put down a $500 deposit for the surgery, and needed $15,000 to pay the balance.
Using their daughter and unborn son as pawns in their scheme, Skylar and her pregnant wife Jennifer brought their toddler, Haylie, in a stroller to the yacht to win the Hawkses’ trust. The ploy worked.
When Skylar returned with a young former jail guard named Alonso Machain, the Hawkses viewed Skylar as a promising potential buyer for the yacht. They also didn’t blink when Skylar came back for a final sea trial with Alonso and “Crazy John” Kennedy, an OG (original gangster) with the Long Beach Insane Crips, who posed as Skylar’s accountant. (Kennedy was nicknamed JFK during his trial, even though he in no way resembles our former president.)
Once they were out to sea, Skylar and his crew of criminals tied Tom and Jackie to an anchor and threw them overboard—alive—off the coast of Newport Beach.
Over the past fifteen years, a number of news developments have affected the players in this case, even after Jennifer, Skylar, Alonso and JFK were sent to prison a decade or more ago. I have been following these developments so I could keep my readers informed.
In this new updated edition, I describe what life on death row has been like for Skylar, who has gone back and forth between psychiatric facilities in Vacaville and an in-patient unit that opened at San Quentin in 2014. I also discuss several key changes within the California prison system that have affected all transgender and death row inmates, including Skylar. I was sure to ask the victims’ families for their reactions, and how they are doing these days.
Here are some other highlights:
–While on death row, Skylar has been engaged to two women and forged a close relationship with a male murderabilia dealer, who said they were “more than friends.”
–After I visited Skylar at San Quentin for a 2.5-hour interview in 2015, her attorney told me she was too “mentally incompetent” to consent to an interview (after the fact), even though she seemed happier and more rational than ever before. Nonetheless, I describe my observations and the surreal experience of being locked in a cage with this uncuffed three-time killer, fearing that my pen or the “spork” she used to eat her avocado, would end up in my neck.
–California’s prison system became the nation’s first to establish an application process and criteria for transgender inmates who want to obtain taxpayer-subsidized gender confirmation surgery. This is one of a host of changes the system has made to adapt to a changing culture and to comply with court decisions concerning gender and medical and mental health care of prisoners.
–Earlier this year, Governor Newsom established a moratorium on executions, as the end of the public approval process for a new protocol for lethal injections was approaching. This extends the moratorium that has already been in place since 2006 in California, where a majority of voters has supported the death penalty as recently as 2016.
–The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has been embroiled in a years-long scandal involving the secret recording of informants’ conversations with defendants awaiting trials, which triggered probes by state and federal officials. The scandal prompted the new DA, Todd Spitzer, to adopt a “revised jailhouse informant policy modeled after the most comprehensive protocols” across the state.
–Despite conceding guilt at trial, Skylar still has a right to file an “instant appeal,” just like any other defendant who receives a death sentence. Her appeal, in which she argues that she deserves a new trial, is still pending.
This newly updated version of DEAD RECKONING not only includes these and other developments I’ve researched in the last few months, it also includes details that I tried to publish in my last update in 2016, which sadly ended up on the cutting room floor. Because my previous publisher let that edition go out of print, I got my rights back and am excited to work with WildBlue re-issue this new, expanded updated version as a trade paperback and ebook.
If you’ve only read the original version, or the brief 2016 update, or never read the book at all, this new version has plenty of fresh, recent material that will make it worth your while to purchase.
You can pre-order the book here: Amazon: wbp.bz/deadreckoninga
You can buy the book here: wbp.bz/deadreckoning
And you can learn more about me by visiting my website, https://caitlinrother.com. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.