The search for 27-year-old Lori Hacking has made an unlikely connection between Salt Lake City and Chapel Hill.
Mark Hacking, Lori's husband, told family, investigators and the media that the couple had planned to move to Chapel Hill, where he was going to attend medical school. But on Wednesday, WRAL learned that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has no record of Mark Hacking and that he is not registered to be a student at the medical school this fall.
UNC officials also told WRAL that Mark Hacking never even applied to the school. WRAL also checked with Duke Medical School, and Hacking is not registered at that school.
WRAL spoke with investigators in Utah. They said they have no explanation at this point as to why Hacking would lead people to believe he was coming to school in Chapel Hill.
"We were of the impression that he had graduated from the University of Utah recently and just found out a few minutes ago that he never applied to medical school in North Carolina," Douglas Hacking said.
A news conference intended to update the media on the search for Lori Hacking had been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. But the focus shifted from the search to Mark Hacking's academics when reports surfaced he was not enrolled in medical school.
According to the University of Utah, Mark Hacking was enrolled from spring 1999 to fall 2002. He was majoring in intermediate psychology never graduated.
Family members said they were only informed by police prior to the news conference after the media reported the discrepancies.
"The police have been aware of that since yesterday and did not share that with us," Douglas Hacking said. "It still doesn't necessarily answer the question: 'What has happened to Lori?'"
Salt Lake City detective Dwayne Baird said that was information police did not think the family needed to know, adding that it may not mean anything.
"It only means he's not enrolled in medical school," Baird said.
Yellow tape marked "Do Not Enter" blocked the doorway of the Hackings' apartment, where he serves as the building manager. No one answered the door Wednesday afternoon, but a message on a dry erase board directed inquiries about Lori Hacking to another apartment.
An unidentified boy there said Hacking had not been there since his wife disappeared.
Lori Hacking apparently vanished Monday morning after she went to Memory Grove Park in City Creek Canyon to jog. Police have not named any suspects in the disappearance but have taken items from the couple's apartment and impounded both their cars.
Mark Hacking also has been interviewed by police.
While 1,200 people helped search for Lori Hacking on Tuesday, that was scaled back Wednesday as about 150 volunteers took fliers door-to-door.
The police department is calling the disappearance officially a missing person case with suspicious circumstances, Detective Kevin Joiner said. He said no one is being considered a suspect, but no one has been ruled out, either.
Police also have removed items from the couple's apartment near the University of Utah.
Neither Joiner nor Baird would say what, if anything, was taken from the apartment. But television news footage showed paper bags, boxes and a box spring being removed.
Police impounded a large trash bin. Baird would not confirm reports that police were looking at a mattress found inside the bin.
Neither spokesman would say where the bin was located, but Joiner said it was "somewhere between Memory Grove and the apartment."
Lori Hacking's parents said they assume she has been abducted. They pleaded for her safe return on local and national news shows Wednesday.
Mark Hacking works the night shift at a psychiatric hospital and has said that he usually sleeps when his wife goes running. She normally returns home about 6:30 a.m. to shower and get ready for work. He said she normally would wake him up to drive her to work.
A witness told police Monday that she saw a woman matching Hacking's description stretching at the park's entrance between 5:50 and 6 a.m.
On Monday, Mark Hacking woke up later in the morning and learned she had not arrived for work.
Lori and Mark Hacking have been married almost five years. They learned last Thursday that she is five weeks pregnant.
Copyright 2023 by WRAL.com and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.