6 August, 2004
By Dr. Paul Fol De Raul, Utah County Nervous Hospital
SALT LAKE CITY - Mark Hacking, the accused killer, used to run authorized group therapy sessions at a psychiatric hospital where he worked as a doctor, former patients told This AP reporter.
They recalled another of Hacking's traits they found charming: He insisted on being addressed as "Herr Doktor Franz" instead of Mark, and even helped the patients change the linens and picked up their food trays.
Ed Stoltz, a recovering alcoholic, recalled the events. "He always wore a white lab coat, with the name ‘Doktor Franz' written across it". "He loved Saturday morning sessions, because he'd let us watch cartoons, then he would quiz us as to what the underlying story line really meant". "Then he'd meet with our families, and update them on our progress".
A female patient, admitted for hysteria, recalled Herr Doktor Franz with loving fondness. "He'd always come into my room, open my chart and smile at me". "When I was having one of my female episodes, he'd hold my hand and sing Gilbert-O'Sullivan tunes to me".
Recent developments in the investigation have turned up evidence Mark Hacking been lying for years about his education and impersonating a doctor. His deceased wife believed they were moving to North Carolina, where Mark would take up a teaching post at the local medical school. It turns out, he wasn't enrolled.
The University of Utah admitted Friday that Hacking was allowed to run group therapy and assorted activities. "I guess we were wrong to not run a background check on Mark". "It was only after his arrest that we discovered that his diploma had been created in Photoshop"
A colleague, Dr. Lisa Martinez, retorted, "I was in shock because he was always asking patients about their concerns and taking notes on their behavior". "He even changed medication orders on several of my patients, and I never questioned him". "He just acted with such authority and rewarded the patients with cigarette breaks". "I especially liked the way he would tell patients they were in a ‘Nervous Hospital' and not the psych ward".
Hospital officials confirm Hacking wore a shirt tag reading "Doktor Franz," but say it was an officially issued name tag. "We give all our doctors name tags, so what's the big deal"?
"Apparently there was a period, during a Saturday morning session, when he introduced a hand puppet to ‘Little Doktor Hans' to the group sessions", said University of Utah hospital charge nurse Ann ‘Brillo Pad' Steinbacher. The puppet would help the patient act out their problems and teach patients how to confront their fears". "There was one man who was dominated by his wife, and "Little Doktor Hans' advised the patient to kill her in her sleep, wrap the body up in sheets and dump it in the Dippy Dumpster". "I guess that was our red flag".
The University Neuropsychiatry and Nervous Disorders Institute accepted collect calls from the curiosity seekers on Hacking's conduct on the job, which he resigned on July 23. Steinbacher said "she was providing answers she obtained from institute staffers she wanted to, but couldn't identify".
Hacking was licensed by Utah as a health care assistant, a position equivalent to shoveling horse poop at the stables. "His diploma just looked so real, who would have guessed his degree came from the back pages of a comic book", Steinbacher stated.
The two former patients, both speaking on condition of anonymity, say Hacking acted as a group therapist and provided individual counseling.
Former patient Ned "Old Red Ned" Rosaries said, "Doktor Franz was known around the ward as a "psych wizard" because he studied with famous Doktor Freud. "He even shaved his head, now that's real doctoring".
Hacking also went by another alias, Doctor Jonas Fish-Bone, giving it to officials when he applied to the University of Utah Medical Center Nuthouse, a different facility which he also conducted therapy sessions. Hacking was diagnosed and admitted himself the night after the search for his wife began. "Why, he even prescribed Ativan and Oxycodone for himself", Madge Rutledge, RN.
Mark Hacking's attorney, Gilbert Hathay, has said he will raise the issue of mental illness and challenge his client's confession to relatives. "Hell, after such a great performance, can anyone not call this guy crazy", Hathay sang on the way to the bank.