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Prisoner Faces Further Charges

Skylar Deleon allegedly conspired to kill two witnesses -- his father and a cousin.

July 29, 2006|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

A Long Beach man awaiting a murder trial for allegedly handcuffing a retired couple to an anchor and throwing them into the open sea was charged Friday with trying to arrange the killing of two witnesses from his jail cell.

One is his father. The other is a cousin, who could testify against him in an unrelated murder case.

Skylar Deleon, 26, is scheduled Monday to face allegations that he tried to persuade a fellow inmate at the Orange County Jail to kill his father in 2005, and solicited another inmate this week to kill his cousin. Neither the father nor cousin could be reached for comment.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy, the lead prosecutor in the case, declined to provide details of the latest charges.

Deleon's attorney, Gary Pohlson of Lake Forest, could not be reached for comment.

The new charges are the latest twist in a macabre tale marked by the horrific way in which authorities say Tom and Jackie Hawks were killed: Handcuffed together to the anchor of their 55-foot yacht Well Deserved, they were tossed overboard somewhere between Newport Beach and Santa Catalina Island. Their bodies were never found.

Prosecutors allege the plot to kill the couple, plunder their bank accounts and steal the vessel was planned by Deleon after he spotted the boat being advertised for sale for $440,000. His wife and three others helped him carry out the plan in November 2004, according to prosecutors.

At the time, the Hawkses, who had spent nearly two adventure-filled years plying the waters along the coast of Baja California and into the Sea of Cortez, decided to buy a smaller boat and return to Arizona so they could spend more time with their newly born first grandchild.

Deleon, who was born John Julius Jacobson, the same name as his father, convinced the Hawkses that he had starred in the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" television show in the early 1990s. Between his acting and real estate investments, he told them, money wasn't a problem. At the time, Deleon and his wife were living in her parents' garage in Long Beach.

On Nov. 15, 2004, the Hawkses sailed out of Newport Beach Harbor with Deleon and two other men, Alonso Machain, 22, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 40. Thomas Hawks had told a friend that he wanted to make sure Deleon knew how to operate the boat. Once at sea, the couple was forced to sign the transfer of title documents before they were killed, according to authorities.

Deleon told police he had paid the Hawkses more than $400,000 in cash for the boat and watched as they got into their silver Honda CR-V and drove off.

What really happened, authorities say, is that Deleon drove the Hawkses' car to an Arizona bank, where he tried unsuccessfully to empty the couple's bank account. He tried again a few days later with no luck, then abandoned the couple's car in Mexico, police say.

Deleon and three others including his wife, Jennifer Deleon, 24, are charged with the special circumstances of murder of multiple victims and murder for financial gain.

Eight months after his arrest, Deleon was charged in the 2003 slaying of a man he had befriended while serving a burglary sentence at the Seal Beach City Jail.

Pilot and jewelry maker Jon P. Jarvi was found with his throat slashed in Mexico days after he had finished a brief federal sentence for counterfeiting. He had just netted $50,000 pawning his van and refinancing his Tustin condominium.

Jarvi had told his mother he was going to Mexico on a "no-lose" business deal, then went to his bank and cashed two checks, authorities say. Later that day, Deleon paid $18,000 in cash to have his 26-foot cabin cruiser refitted, deposited about $21,000 in cash in the bank and bought a $2,200 wedding band for his wife, authorities say.

Deleon's cousin, Michael W. Lewis Jr., of Oatman, Ariz., was arrested on suspicion of being an accomplice in that case. He has been released from jail. Deleon is accused of trying to solicit an inmate Wednesday to kill him, prosecutors said.

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