Posted on Monday, 04.08.13
Missing Florida couple, kidnapped sons reportedly in Cuba
The Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. -- A Florida couple suspected of kidnapping their two sons
from the woman's parents are in Cuba, authorities said Monday.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received information that the
Hakken family had arrived on the island nation, according to a news
release. Investigators say they're working with the FBI and the U.S.
State Department to verify their reports.
It wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, authorities could do to
retrieve the family from Cuba.
A State Department official said the department is aware of the case and
is in contact with local authorities. The official said a high priority
is the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas, especially children "who are
our most vulnerable citizens."
"The Department works with parents and foreign governments to resolve
these difficult cases," the official said.
The sheriff's office alleges that Joshua Michael Hakken entered his
mother-in-law's house north of Tampa early Wednesday, tied her up and
fled with his sons, 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase.
Federal, state and local authorities had been searching by air and sea
for a boat Hakken recently bought. The truck that Hakken, his wife
Sharyn and the boys had been traveling in was found late Thursday,
abandoned in a parking garage in Madeira Beach. Authorities say they had
been looking up and down the entire Gulf coast from Pensacola to the
Keys and the Intracoastal Waterway. An Amber Alert for the boys has been
issued in Florida, Louisiana and other states.
The boys had been living since last year with their maternal
grandparents, who were granted permanent custody Tuesday. Joshua Hakken
lost custody of his sons last year after a drug possession arrest in
Louisiana, and he later tried to take them from a foster home at
gunpoint, authorities have said. Authorities have previously
characterized the Hakkens as "anti-government."
The Hillsborough Sheriff's office has issued an arrest warrant for
Joshua Hakken on charges of kidnapping and several other counts.