Skylar Deleon is a convicted transgender murderer who was sentenced to death in the murders of Tom and Jackie Hawks on their yacht, the Well Deserved. Deleon’s name was legally changed from Skylar Julius Deleon to Skylar Preciosa Deleon, and Deleon’s gender was officially changed to female in 2019.
Deleon murdered the Hawks, in part, to pay for gender confirmation surgery. Deleon and her wife, Jennifer Henderson, were severely in debt before the murders in 2004, and Deleon had already made a down payment for the surgery. While imprisoned and unable to have the surgery, Deleon became desperate and attempted to cut off her penis in 2009.
Deleon was a former child actor who played a bit part in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993 and 1994, according to IMDB. Deleon’s name was already changed once before. Deleon was born John Julius Jacobson Jr., a name which is also listed on her IMDB profile. Deleon changed her name before her marriage to Jennifer Henderson to separate herself from her father and namesake, John Jacobson Sr. Deleon has said John Sr. abused her and her mother, according to a blog post by Caitlin Rother, best-selling author of the book, “Dead Reckoning,” a true-crime book about the Hawks’ murder. Deleon picked the name Skylar, viewing it as gender neutral, the blog post said. It took a Supreme Court ruling to officially change her name and gender. You can read the court decision here.
ABC 20/20 is revisiting the case on an encore episode airing Friday, July 23, 2021 at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Here’s what you need to know:
Skylar Preciosa Deleon Is On Death Row At a Men’s Prison Although Her Gender Was Changed to Female
Skylar Preciosa Deleon, whose name was changed from Skylar Julius Deleon, is on death row at San Quentin Prison in California. Now age 41, Deleon underwent hormone therapy and continues to hope for gender confirmation surgery. It was the desire for the surgery, in part, that fueled the ghastly murders of Thomas and Jackie Hawks. Deleon tied them up aboard their $435,000, 55-foot yacht, forced them to sign sales documents, strapped them to an anchor and tossed them overboard in November 15, 2004.
Deleon was also convicted in the murder Jon Peter Jarvi, 45, of Anaheim in 2003. Deleon met Jarvi when they were both inmates at Seal Beach Jail in December 2003. Deleon convinced Jarvi to give her more than $50,000 to take part in a purported investment opportunity in Mexico. Instead, Deleon killed Jarvi in Mexico by slashing his throat and leaving him to die at the side of a road, according to the Orange County Register. Deleon was sentenced to death in all three killings in April 2009.
At the time of the Jarvi murder, Deleon was still a prisoner at Seal Beach Jail, and committed the murder while on furlough. When she returned, she used some of the money to buy an anal sex machine from the jail’s computer, according to the Orange County Register.
At the time of the murders, Deleon was married to Jennifer Henderson, who was a part of the murder plot. Deleon introduced the Hawks to Henderson and their 2-year-old daughter to make them comfortable, before going out on the ill-fated test drive that would lead to their demise. The Hawks had been living aboard their 55-foot yacht, called the Well Deserved. But they decided to sell it to move to Arizona and help raise their newborn grandson, the Register reported.
Deleon is on death row at San Quentin Prison, where she was incarcerated since April 16, 2009, according to prison records. Deleon has been sentenced to death by lethal injection, according to the Orange County Register. Deleon had hoped to be moved to a women’s prison, she told ABC News in 2009, saying she gets along better with women.
Deleon told ABC News in 2009 that she is attracted to women exclusively, but identified as a woman for many years. Jennifer Henderson, Deleon’s ex-wife, said she often wore women’s clothing. Deleon said at the time she planned to continue her relationship with Henderson.
“I’m not attracted to guys,” she told ABC News. “But I wanted the surgery, and I knew I 100 percent wanted the surgery. But I only like females.”
It was the desire for gender confirmation surgery, in part, that drove Deleon to murder.
“This caper, this entire murder, this desire to get some wealth, to get some money, was to pay for that sex change,” said Michael Molfetta, a defense attorney who represented Deleon’s wife, Jennifer, according to ABC News.
Law enforcement found evidence Deleon was researching the surgery before committing the murders.
Deleon’s name was officially changed to Skylar Preciosa Deleon, and her gender was officially changed to female, in a Supreme Court of California order in 2019. You can read the order here.
Skylar Deleon Performed a Botched Gender Confirmation Surgery in Prison & Received Hormone Therapy
Skylar Deleon was so driven to live life as a woman that she tried to remove her penis in prison after she was convicted in the deaths of Tom and Jackie Hawks.
“I basically took a sheet and tied it around my lower extremity … I tied it around and I went to cut it off,” Deleon told ABC News.
The Orange County Register reported she was using a disposable razor. Deleon was fueled by desperation after realizing the surgery would never happen after she was convicted. However, prison guards quickly spotted the bleeding Deleon and rushed her to the hospital before she completed the act.
“[The deputies] got me too quick,” she told ABC News. “And it’s a lot harder to cut than you think.”
The Orange County Register reported:
Skylar already told me that she has identified as female since childhood but was forced to live a lie for many years. She previously recalled a harsh scolding by her father, former U.S. Marine “Big John” Jacobson, after he discovered young Skylar was dressing up with the neighborhood girls and wearing mascara. “You want to be a girl? I’ll treat you like a girl!” yelled the man for whom Skylar was originally named John “Johnny” Jacobson Jr.
Big John, who threw Skylar down the stairs and shoved toothpicks under her nails after she bit them, spent time in federal prison for drug trafficking. When he got out, Skylar told me years ago, he forced her into being a child actor. Skylar had a pretty face even then, landing some commercials and a couple of non-speaking roles in the Saturday morning kids’ show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” during the 1993-94 season. But looking back, she said, she always hated the work and never got to keep the money she made.
Before the murder, Henderson had her sights set on a lavish lifestyle, and the couple was severely in debt. Deleon had tried to make a career of acting, and then joined the Marine Corps. Deleon landed only a bit part in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and spots on commercials. She was discharged from the Marine Corps. After bouncing from job to job, she stayed home with their daughter, unable to earn enough to pay for childcare, according to ABC News.
In prison, Deleon is hoping for state-funded gender confirmation surgery. In some cases, inmate requests for gender confirmation surgery have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The state of California, so far, deemed the procedure for Deleon is not “medically necessary,” a requirement for the procedure, according to the Register. However, Deleon has been given hormone therapy, including testosterone blockers which have given her a more feminine appearance. She wears her hair in a side ponytail and wears a bra, according to the Orange County Register. Deleon has also suffered extensive mental health problems and often harms herself.
“She ran full force into a metal door and knocked herself out, every other week, just to get attention and to get up on the fourth floor, the medical crisis-bed unit, to get people to talk to her and to talk to them,” a correctional officer told the Orange County Register.
Since then, she had been in good spirits and was receiving mental health care in addition to the hormone therapy.
Jackie Hawks’ mother, Gayle O’Neill, weighed in on the idea of taxpayers funding Deleon’s gender confirmation surgery in an interview with the Register.
“Oh my God, I’m sorry, this world has gone to hell in a handbasket. I can’t believe that,” she said. “Why don’t they just put her in the (death chamber) … and do what they said they were going to do? My daughter is gone and she didn’t get to do what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, and Tom, either. Why should (Skylar) get to do what he wants to do?”