SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A man whose credibility began crumbling the day he first reported his pregnant wife missing was arrested Monday in her death, just before his scheduled release from a psychiatric ward.

Investigators believe Lori Hacking, 27, was killed in the couple’s apartment and that her body is buried somewhere below 3,000 tons of trash at the county landfill. The landfill was expected to be searched again Wednesday.

Her husband, Mark Hacking, reported her missing July 19. He was hospitalized when he was seen running around naked outside a motel where he had taken a room, hours after making an emotional appeal on television that day for help in searching for her.

Although Lori Hacking’s body has not been found, police said they had gathered enough evidence – including the murder weapon – to bring charges against her husband.

“The evidence gathered strongly indicated Lori was the victim of a homicide and that Mark Hacking is the individual responsible,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said.

Mark Hacking, 28, has not been formally charged. Prosecutors have 72 hours to file charges, but they could ask for an extension if necessary.

Dinse said police have no proof that Lori Hacking was five weeks’ pregnant, as she had told friends and relatives. He said if a body is found and the pregnancy is confirmed, prosecutors could add a murder charge later.

Detectives identified a motive and have found the weapon that killed Lori Hacking, Dinse said. He declined to elaborate.

Both Dinse and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office said failing to find the body would not hinder the case.

The couple’s families were alerted to the arrest before Dinse’s public announcement.

“They’re devastated, both sides of that family,” he said.

Since the day his wife was reported missing, Mark Hacking’s credibility has eroded amid revelations that he lied to his wife about enrolling at medical school in North Carolina and about graduating from the University of Utah.

Hacking made no admission of guilt at his arrest and is on a suicide watch, Dinse said. Hacking was picked up before his scheduled release Monday from a psychiatric ward at the University of Utah Hospital.

Dinse said Mark Hacking’s 13-day hospitalization gave detectives more time to conduct their investigation. Mark Hacking’s lawyer refused comment Monday.

Lori Hacking, an assistant stockbroker, has not been seen since late July 18. Mark Hacking reported her missing the following day, telling family, friends and police that she failed to return from a morning jog at a park near downtown.

But cracks soon emerged in the husband’s timeline and overall credibility, and police later said it was likely that Lori never made it to the park.

Her car was found at the park July 19, and Dinse said police recovered evidence from it, but would not elaborate. Other evidence included items taken from the apartment and a nearby trash bin.

Investigators focused on Hacking after learning he was at a store buying a new mattress just before reporting his wife missing. Authorities were later seen removing a box spring from the couple’s apartment. Investigators have refused to confirm reports that they found a mattress in a nearby trash bin.

The family issued a statement late Saturday saying information Mark Hacking had provided made further volunteer searches for Lori Hacking unnecessary. The family also relayed information from Mark Hacking that indicated further search efforts should be concentrated at the landfill.

The family’s statement did not say what Mark Hacking had told his relatives, and Dinse would not elaborate Monday. Messages left Monday for family members were not immediately returned.

AP-ES-08-02-04 1927EDT

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