A couple who kidnapped their two sons has escaped to Cuba, according to information received by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, who have been described as “anti-government” and “armed and dangerous,” lost custody of Cole, 2, and Chase, 4, last Tuesday, to their grandmother Patricia Houser.
In reaction, Joshua Hakken broke into his mother’s house early Wednesday morning, tied up his mother, and absconded with the two boys in the Toyota Camry he stole from her.
It isn’t entirely clear if Sharyn was waiting outside or if she joined him later. What’s known is that the couple originally lost custody of their two sons when they attended what’s being called “an anti-government rally” in July in Louisiana, where Joshua Hakken was arrested for possessing drugs around minor children.
The boys were temporarily placed in a locked Louisiana foster facility. At the time, Joshua Hakken tried to enter that facility at gunpoint but failed.
A nationwide Amber Alert went out, with a report of a sighting of the family in Tennessee. However, a stolen truck used in the kidnapping of their two sons was ultimately found in a parking garage in Madeira Beach, Florida.
Further investigation revealed that Hakken had recently purchased and outfitted a boat, which you can see on surveillance footage included in this report:
The State Department is now investigating the report, but it isn’t clear what they can do. United States/Cuba relationships have been poor since the early 1960s. While an unnamed State Department official said that they were aware of the situation and were working to resolve it, they really didn’t give any details.
Five-year-old Elìan González was at the center of a bitter dispute between Cuba and the United States in 1999-2000, when he arrived in Miami in an inner tube after a daring sea escape from the island with his mother, who drowned. Cuban and American family members fought for custody of the boy, but he was ultimately returned to Cuba.
As for the two kidnapped Hakken sons? If they’re in Cuba, they could be caught in the middle of an international custody battle between their parents and grandparents for quite some time.
[police car lights photo Benchill via Wikipedia Commons]