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Friday, Sep 21, 2018
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Hakkens in Tampa jail; boys back with grandparents

TAMPA - Joshua and Sharyn Hakken were in the Hillsborough County jail Wednesday, ending what authorities said was a weeklong abduction of their young sons that involved a perilous sailboat ride to Cuba.
A plane from Havana carrying the Hakkens and their children, federal, state and local authorities, and a victims' counselor, touched down at Tampa International Airport about 1:30 a.m.
The boys, Chase, 2, and Cole, 4, were returned to their maternal grandparents, who have legal custody, in North Tampa. A family dog that was taken was also returned.
Joshua and Sharyn Hakken face charges of kidnapping, child neglect, and interference with custody, according to the Hillsborough County jail website.
Joshua Hakken will also be charged with false imprisonment and is being held on bail of $154,000. No bail information was listed for Sharyn Hakken.
The couple will not face federal charges, said David Couvertier, a spokesman for the FBI in Tampa.
The Hakkens are expected to make their first appearance Thursday in Hillsborough County Court, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.
They have not been interviewed by investigators and invoked their right to an attorney, authorities said. They had no visitors as of Wednesday morning, a sheriff's spokesman said.
The grandparents, Bob and Patricia Hauser, appeared before the media after midnight Wednesday. They looked relieved but shed no tears. “Our grandchildren are safe,” Bob Hauser said.
A few hours earlier, investigators flew to Havana to meet with authorities and get the family.
Cuba tipped the State Department off to the Hakkens' presence Sunday, and from that moment "diplomatic contact has been exchanged and a professional and constant communication has been maintained," Cuban Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada said in a statement.
There is no extradition agreement between the U.S. and Cuba and the communist 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.
Joshua Hakken is accused of breaking into his mother-in-law's North Tampa home last Wednesday, tying up Patricia Hauser and whisking away his sons. The incident took place the day after a Louisiana court awarded custody of the boys to their maternal grandparents.
After taking the boys, deputies said, Hakken met up with his wife, changed vehicles, drove to Madeira Beach and sailed more than 300 miles to Havana, dodging an international manhunt.
The custody order was issued after Hakken was arrested on drug charges last June. Police said he and his wife created a disturbance at a hotel in Slidell, La. The children were placed in a foster home in Louisiana and Hakken later attempted to get them back at gunpoint, police said.
Soon after, Chase and Cole, still under foster care, were placed with their grandparents, said Joe Follick, spokesman for the Florida Department of Children & Families.
DCF caseworkers conducted a home study at the Hausers' residence and deemed it was safe for the children to live there, Follick said. Before the abduction, deputies had not received any calls for service at the Hauser home, a sheriff's spokesman said.
Child welfare officials in Louisiana will review the case again to make a final decision on where the children will live.
"We are relieved the children are back in Tampa with their grandparents after the last few hectic days. ... Our main concern is returning these kids to a stable and loving environment," DCF spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said.

Tribune reporters Ray Reyes, Elaine Silvestrini and Jose Patino Girona contributed to this report.

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