Home / National News / Parents in Cuba Kidnapping Case Officially Charged


(TAMPA, Fla.) — The Florida parents accused of abducting their kids and fleeing to Cuba were officially charged Thursday morning with kidnapping, interference with child custody and neglect.

Joshua Hakken, 35, and Sharyn Hakken, 34, were brought back to the United States early Wednesday morning by federal, state and local authorities and booked at the Hillsborough County Jail after they were handed over by Cuban officials.

A federal unlawful flight charge against the Hakkens was dropped because of the extensive state charges, according to ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV.

Joshua Hakken was also charged with grand theft auto, false imprisonment, battery and burglary.

Their sons, Cole 4, and Chase, 2, were returned to the custody of their maternal grandparents, Bob and Patricia Hauser.

Sharyn Hakken’s former boss Darrell Hanecki, who spoke to ABC News overnight, said she was a good mother who quit her job to spend more time with her sons.

“She was a very normal, very mild-mannered, kind of laid-back person dedicated to her kids and her family,” Hanecki, who employed Sharyn for nearly a decade at Hanecki Consulting Engineers in Odessa, Fla., said.  “It’s just shocking.”

The Hakken’s ordeal that ended with diplomatic intervention from Cuba began in June when the couple lost custody of their sons.  Slidell, La., police said they found the Hakkens in a hotel room with their sons surrounded by weapons, drugs and “acting in a bizarre manner.”

After the children were placed into protective custody last year, authorities said Joshua Hakken showed up at the kids’ foster home banging on the door with a gun, demanding his two sons.  Authorities said he fled the scene when the foster parents called 911.

The children were living with their maternal grandparents in Tampa, Fla., on April 3, when authorities allege that Joshua Hakken barged into the home, tied up his mother-in-law, and fled with his sons in her car.

The Hakkens arrived in the Hemingway Marina in Havana on April 7 aboard their sailboat, Salty Paw, under unfavorable sailing conditions, according to a statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

The next day, Cuban officials said they became aware the Hakkens were wanted in an abduction case and contacted U.S. officials in Havana.

A team of FBI agents departed the Tampa area at 10 p.m. Tuesday and met with authorities in Cuba before returning the United States with the family early Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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