The Florida couple accused of kidnapping their own children and fleeing to Cuba on a boat were booked into a Tampa jail early Wednesday morning after they were handed over to U.S. authorities. Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35, are facing several charges. Grandfather Bob Hauser comments.
The Florida couple accused of kidnapping their own children and fleeing to Cuba on a boat were booked into a Tampa jail early Wednesday morning after they were handed over to U.S. authorities.
Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35, are facing several charges including kidnapping, child neglect, burglary and interference with custody, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office jail records.
Both were being held without bond and it was unknown whether they have attorneys. They are due to make their first court appearance Thursday morning, according to the sheriff's office.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detectives and state and federal authorities flew to Cuba to pick up the Hakkens, who arrived at Tampa International Airport at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, the sheriff's office said.
Authorities say Joshua Michael Hakken kidnapped his sons, 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase, from his mother-in-law's house north of Tampa. The boys' maternal grandparents had been granted permanent custody of the boys last week.
The children are safe and have been returned to their maternal grandparents, the sheriff's office said. The family's dog, Nati, was on the flight back from Cuba and is also with them.
The boys' grandfather, Bob Hauser, thanked family and friends for their prayers and authorities for their help in finding his grandchildren.
"We are very appreciative of that, and it was very, very comforting to my wife and I to know that that was going on," Hauser said.
On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada said in a statement that Cuba had informed U.S. authorities of the country's decision to turn over the couple and their children.
The Hakkens had been spotted alongside their sailboat, Salty, docked at Havana's Hemingway Marina. A Cuban official said that the ministry alerted the U.S. authorities that the boat arrived in the Marina on April 7 at 3:20 p.m. during poor weather conditions.
Tablada said Cuba tipped the State Department off to the Hakkens' presence on Sunday and that from that moment "diplomatic contact has been exchanged and a professional and constant communication has been maintained."
The U.S. and Cuba share no extradition agreement and the island nation is also not a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international treaty for governmental cooperation on such cases.
A crucial public tip in the case came from the person that sold the sailboat to Joshua Hakken, the sheriff's office said. The boat was left in Cuba, and the FBI will determine its status.
Hakken lost custody of his sons last year after a drug possession arrest in Louisiana and later tried to take the children from a foster home at gunpoint, authorities said.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Hakken entered his mother-in-law's Florida house last Wednesday, tied her up and fled with his sons. Federal, state and local authorities searched by air and sea for a boat Hakken had recently bought. The truck Hakken, his wife and the boys had been traveling in was found Thursday, abandoned in Madeira Beach, Florida.
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