The Former 'Power Rangers' Star Who Killed Couple to Finance Gender Reassignment
On August 16, 2005, Skylar James Deleon, a 29-year-old actor who had a bit part in the 1990s series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, was arrested in connection with three murders.
Deleon was accused of killing Tom and Jackie Hawks in 2004 in order to steal their yacht, which was worth around $500,000, and their life savings. Deleon was also found guilty of murdering Jon Jarvi, a man Deleon met in a work program while serving jail time for burglary. According to prosecutors, Deleon killed Jarvi in Mexico after he gave Deleon $50,000.
At age 14, the aspiring actor appeared as an uncredited extra in the Power Rangers episode "Second Chance." But Deleon's budding acting career quickly came to an end due to the fact that remembering lines was a struggle.
At age 20, Deleon joined the United States Marine Corps, but was given an other than honorable discharge after taking an unauthorized absence.
In 2004, Deleon met Thomas Hawks, a retired probation officer and a bodybuilder, and his wife, Jackie Hawks, after answering an ad the couple posted in order to sell their 55-foot yacht, the Well Deserved. The couple was reportedly suspicious of Deleon, but let down their guard after the prospective boat-buyer brought then-pregnant wife Jennifer and their other child to a meeting.
The Hawks were last seen alive on the morning of November 15, 2004, heading out of the harbor. The yacht came back, but they disappeared — and their bodies have never been found.
After their families were notified of an attempt to access their bank account a few weeks later from Mexico, they filed a missing persons report with the Carlsbad police department.
The police soon zeroed in on Deleon, who told them that she'd bought the boat from the couple. Deleon claimed that they had left in their car with the money, and had not been in touch since.
But authorities determined that Deleon and three accomplices — Alonso Machain, Myron Gardner, and John Kennedy — posed as potential buyers and took Thomas and Jackie out around Newport Harbor for what they believed would be a sea test. They then allegedly bound and gagged the terrified couple and threw them overboard.
In March 2005, Machain confessed to the crime and was arrested in connection with the couple's disappearance, along with Deleon, Deleon's wife, Jennifer; and Kennedy.
Deleon's lawyers admitted her guilt in opening statements in a bid to avoid the death penalty. Deleon explained that she identifies as a woman, and that the motive for committing the crime was to help fund gender-confirmation surgery. Deleon's attorney Gary Pohlson told reporters that his client had a "horrible, horrible life," and said that Deleon's father abused her and later died of AIDS.
Jennifer Deleon was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder on November 17, 2006. She divorced Deleon and was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.
While awaiting trial in jail, Deleon was also charged with soliciting another inmate to murder her father and cousin, along with Javi's murder. She was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances for financial gain and multiple victims, and on November 6, 2008, the jury recommended the death penalty.
On March 13, 2008, Deleon partially severed her penis with a razor blade while behind bars. She told ABC News that she was desperate for gender-confirmation surgery and had cut off the member in an effort to make her body match her identity. "I basically took a sheet and tied it around my lower extremity … I tied it around, and I went to cut it off," Deleon said.
On April 10, 2009, Deleon was sentenced to death by Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel. Deleon is currently behind bars at San Quentin State Prison and, according to Orange Coast Magazine, looking into pursuing options for state-funded gender-confirmation surgery.
To learn more about this case, watch the “I’d Kill for a Sex Change” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Sins on ID GO now!
Main photo: Skylar Deleon [True Crime With Aphrodite Jones / Investigation Discovery (screenshot)]