Orange County, Calif., prosecutor Matt Murphy said Skylar Deleon told police he had bought the boat, paid in cash in a parking lot in Newport and then watched the Hawks drive away.
Skylar Deleon's words didn't sound right to Ryan Hawks. Right away, he said, he knew that his parents had been murdered and that Skylar Deleon had something to do with it.
In a desperate attempt to find Tom and Jackie Hawks, Ryan Hawks appeared on national TV to plead for answers.
His TV appearances paid off when a person in Baja, Calif. said they recognized images of the car. The witness said it was left in Mexico, not by anyone matching Tom or Jackie Hawks' picture, but instead by Skylar Deleon.
The story unraveled further when a bank surveillance tape in Kingman, Ariz., showed the Deleons trying to access the Hawks' account.
The Deleons arrived at the bank with a power of attorney signed by both Jackie and Tom Hawks. Jackie Hawks' signature, however, appeared abnormal and it was signed "Hawk" instead of "Hawks."
A search of the Deleons' little garage apartment turned up key evidence: videotape of the Deleon family that had clearly been taped over video of the Hawks family on a video camera that had been stolen from the Hawks.
The evidence weighed against the Deleons, but there wasn't enough to convict Skylar Deleon of murder -- that is, until a guard from the Seal Beach jail confessed.
Alonso Machain had met and befriended Skylar Deleon when Deleon was serving time for burglary.
"I don't think anybody realized how horrible it was until we talked to Alonso," said Orange County's Murphy.
In court, Machain explained in horrific detail the Deleons' premeditated plan to steal from the Hawks.
According to Machain, the day the Hawks took the Deleons out to sea, they were accompanied by both Machain and John Kennedy, a reputed member of the Long Beach Insane Crips gang who had served time for attempted murder. Through an intermediary, Skylar Deleon arranged to meet and hire Kennedy that same day at a Long Beach, Calif., liquor store. Machain said Kennedy was asked to present himself to the Hawks as "an accountant or something of that nature."
Once they were all out at sea, Murphy said the group Tasered Tom Hawks several times and then handcuffed him. Tom Hawks, a champion wrestler in college and a physical fitness buff, had made it extremely difficult for the men to overpower him. But after a fierce struggle, Tom Hawks was unable to overcome the surprise attack. Tragically, he was almost able to save the lives of his wife and himself, but was eventually overpowered.
Machain explained in court that his assignment was to restrain Jackie Hawks above deck.
"So then I heard a loud. … Thumps, you know, like up against the wall," said Machain. "She was fighting. She was trying to hold me back."
Machain said Skylar Deleon asked him to tape the couple's eyes and mouths shut.
"They brought them upstairs from the state room and one at a time, forced them to sign the durable power of attorney and the documents indicating that they'd actually sold Skylar the boat," he said.
According to Machain, Jackie Hawks begged for their lives, telling him that they didn't want to die and that they just had a new grandchild they wanted to spend time with. She could not believe that Skylar Deleon, the same person who had brought his pregnant wife and child on the boat, would betray them in such a way.