Parents Accused of Kidnapping Kids and Fleeing to Cuba Make First Court Appearance

Sharyn Patricia Hakken and husband Joshua Michael Hakken facing several charges, appear in court in Tampa

By Brian Hamacher
|  Friday, Apr 12, 2013  |  Updated 8:59 AM EDT
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The Florida couple accused of kidnapping their own children and fleeing to Cuba on a boat were ordered held without bond during their first appearance in court in Tampa Thursday since they were handed over to U.S. authorities. Patricia Hauser and Bob Hauser, the grandparents of Cole and Chase Hakken, spoke at a news conference. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee spoke about the charges against Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and her husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35.

The Florida couple accused of kidnapping their own children and fleeing to Cuba on a boat were ordered held without bond during their first appearance in court in Tampa Thursday since they were handed over to U.S. authorities. Patricia Hauser and Bob Hauser, the grandparents of Cole and Chase Hakken, spoke at a news conference. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee spoke about the charges against Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, and her husband Joshua Michael Hakken, 35.

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The Florida couple accused of kidnapping their own children and fleeing to Cuba on a boat were ordered held without bond during their first appearance in court in Tampa Thursday since 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.

Photos and Videos

Hakken Children Meet With Reporters

Cole and Chase Hakken, the children of Sharyn and Joshua Hakken, meet with reporters during a news conference at the home of their grandparents, Patricia and Bob Hauser. Sharyn and Joshua Hakken are accused of kidnapping the boys from the Hausers and taking them to Cuba on a boat, and have been arrested and charged.

Patricia Hauser Speaks With Reporters

Patricia Hauser, grandmother of the two boys allegedly kidnapped by their parents, Sharyn and Joshua Hakken, and taken to Cuba on a boat, talks about having the kids back home.
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Judge Walter Heinrich scheduled a bond hearing with witnesses for Friday and ordered both to have no contact with any of the victims or witnesses in the case. Both were appointed public defenders.
 
Four-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase are now with their grandparents, who appeared with the boys and spoke with reporters at a news conference Thursday morning.

VIDEO: Parents Accused of Kidnapping Kids Booked Into Tampa Jail

Grandmother Patricia Hauser said the boys were well cared for on their trip, only suffering from bug bites.

"They have been told that everyone heard about their sailboat trip to Cuba, another country as they called it, and their airplane ride back to America," she said, adding that they haven't asked the boys anything about the journey. "We're just treating as they went on a vacation."

The boys said "hi" to reporters and Cole jokingly struck a pose on the lawn for the cameras. Chase held up his toy cars.

VIDEO: Hakken Children Meet With Reporters

Grandfather Bob Hauser said is was great to have the kids back.

"You never expect something like this to happen to you," he said. "Our focus is making sure we go forward and they can lead a normal life."
 
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.
 
The couple seemed to have a charmed life, doting on their two young boys, buying a comfortable home and building successful careers as engineers. It all derailed last year when police in Louisiana found the family inside a hotel room with drugs, weapons and promises from the parents to take "a journey to the Armageddon."
 
After that arrest, the Hakkens lost custody of the boys, who were initially sent to a foster home. Authorities say Joshua Hakken tried and failed to kidnap them at gunpoint from the home.
 
Last week, the boys' maternal grandparents were granted custody. That's when police say Joshua Hakken broke into the home, tied up his mother-in-law, took the children and eventually set sail for Cuba. Federal, state and local authorities searched by air and sea for the sailboat Joshua Hakken had recently purchased. They were found in Cuba, thanks to a crucial tip from the person who sold the boat to Hakken.

Cuba To Turn Over Parents Accused of Kidnapping Kids
 
The couple may have believed they could find refuge there, but experts said Cuba had little to gain politically by holding them. The communist island shares no extradition agreement with the U.S., and relations between the two have been icy for decades. But Cuban officials said Tuesday they would hand over the family.
 
The public defender's office declined to comment. The couple will not face federal charges, said David Couvertier, a spokesman for the FBI in Tampa.
 
The children were "happy and sleepy" on a flight back to the U.S., sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said in an email. They and the family dog, Nati, are with their grandparents until child welfare officials can again review the case in light of the abduction.

VIDEO: Missing Tampa Boys May Be On Sailboat With Parents
 
Nancy Weining, who said she is an acquaintance of the Hausers, called them a "wonderful family." She said the Hausers had lost touch with their daughter and son-in-law after the Hakkens lost custody of their boys.
 
"I knew they had left them with them and nobody knew where they were," Weining said. "Everybody was looking for them, trying to figure out where they were."

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