Video: California mystery

updated 12/13/2004 9:27:28 AM ET 2004-12-13T14:27:28

A retired couple who had been living on a boat along the Southern California coast have been missing for weeks, and police are trying to determine if the disappearance is related to a man’s recent purchase of their cabin cruiser.

Tom and Jackie Hawks vanished in mid-November, sometime after a man took a test cruise with the couple and purchased the boat.

Police are holding the boat as evidence, although they have not determined whether a crime has been committed, said Sgt. Steve Shulman of the Newport Beach Police Department.

‘A very responsible couple’
“This is not normal behavior from what is normally a very responsible couple,” Shulman said.

Video: Police said the buyer is cooperating with the investigation.

Ryan Hawks, one of the couple’s two sons, said Friday the buyer is a wealthy young man, but investigators have asked him not to disclose what else he has learned.

“It’s not good things,” he said.

Tom Hawks, 57, and his 47-year-old wife bought the 55-foot cabin cruiser, named the “Well Deserved,” after he retired from his job as a probation officer and they sold their home in Prescott, Ariz. They soon decided, however, to sell it and buy a smaller vessel and a home near San Carlos, Mexico, which would keep them close to friends and family in Arizona, Ryan Hawks said.

The couple put the boat on the market in October and told people they had found a good prospect a month later. Tom Hawks made plans with a friend to help move his fishing, scuba and windsurfing gear just before Thanksgiving, but his son said he never showed up. The couple also couldn’t be reached on their cell phones or satellite e-mail system.

Belongings still on board
Police searched the boat, which the couple kept in Newport Beach, and found that the couple’s personal belongings were still onboard but other items were out of place.

Investigators said the Hawks have not used their credit or bank cards since they disappeared. Their car hasn’t been found.

Ryan Hawks said it would be out of character for his parents to leave without telling anyone. Before they vanished, they had been checking in regularly with their other son to hear about their first grandson.

“They couldn’t get enough of that kid,” Ryan Hawks said. “We’re very worried, very skeptical and very concerned.”

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