For one 9-year-old boy, his kidnapping amounted to something more akin to a tropical vacation.
Of course, Billy Hanson’s mom probably has a much different view on the whole matter. She reported her son missing in September, after he failed to return from a visit to his father Jeffrey Hanson in Seattle.
Since Jeffrey Hanson was known to be an experienced sailor who has traveled extensively around Mexico and the South Pacific, authorities focused on finding Hanson’s yacht. The search turned international, and the boy and his father were eventually located on Niue, a South Pacific coral atoll located 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, 5,500 miles away from Jeffrey Hanson’s home in Seattle, and a total of 7,000 miles away from his mother’s home in Pennsylvania.
The tiny island’s 15-member police force arrested Jeffrey Hanson, 46, last Wednesday, acting on a tip from a local who recognized the boy from a wanted poster. Jeffrey Hanson was brought back to the United States on Sunday, where he will face charges of international parental kidnapping.
Even though some may understand a parent’s desperation to see more of a child, reports of Jeffrey Hanson’s fathering are certainly less than stellar. The senior Hanson did have monthly visitation rights, and Billy had also visited him every summer. But the U.S. Attorney’s office says that Jeffrey Hanson is a “known drug abuser,” and one of Jeffrey Hanson’s own friends told the FBI that Hanson was abusive to his young son during his visits, often hitting Billy Hanson in order to “toughen” the child up.
As for Billy Hanson, he enjoyed a few extra days on the island after his father was arrested, while authorities made arrangements for him to return to his mother, Joanna Hanson. According to Michael Jackson, the editor of a local newspaper, the Niue Star, the boy seemed in great shape.
“I saw him at a barbecue on Friday and he did not look stressed,” the editor said.
He added that locals were looking after him well, and that, on the whole, 9-year-old Billy seemed to be treating the whole thing as an adventure.
“He had a Niue T-shirt on and was enjoying himself,” Jackson said.
In fact, Billy Hanson became something of a celebrity among the 1,600 people who make up the entire population of the tiny island.
Jackson said, “When I was at the petrol station he came past and people were whispering: ‘There’s the boy who was kidnapped.’ It’s all been quite exciting for us.”
It sounds like it was exciting for Billy, as well — although his mother is probably the most excited of all to finally be reunited with her missing son.
This isn’t the only recent parental kidnapping case that has been resolved – read about Sabrina Allen, who was missing for 12 years before being reunited with her father.
[Image via worldmoving.co.au]