Society

Cuba Hands Over Anti-Government Florida Couple Josh and Sharyn Hakken, Children

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The Cuban government handed over the couple who kidnapped their two sons and sought refuge in Havana to the FBI early Wednesday morning.

Joshua Hakken and his wife Sharyn, both 34, were taken to Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa on federal and state charges, including child neglect, kidnapping, and auto theft.

The couple allegedly kidnapped their sons, 2-year-old Chase, and 4-year-old Cole from their grandmother’s house on April 3. The two boys will receive medical exams and then be returned to their grandparents.

The couple lost custody of Chase and Cole after they displayed marijuana in front of the boys in a hotel room in Slidell, Louisiana, in 2012. They had travelled to Louisiana to attend an anti-government rally prior to that. Slidell police said they found both narcotics and weapons in the hotel room.

"When police arrived, both Mr. and Mrs. Hakken were acting in a bizarre manner that alarmed officers. They were talking about 'completing their ultimate journey' and were traveling across the country to 'take a journey to the Armageddon'," a Slidell police statement said. "Let it be noted that both of their children were present in the hotel room at the time."

"Approximately two weeks later, Slidell Police were notified that Mr. Hakken had shown up to the foster family home ... with a firearm demanding the return of his children," said the Slidell police statement. "The foster parents called 911, and Mr. Hakken fled without his children. We have heard nothing until (Wednesday)."

Custody of the boys was given to the maternal grandparents, Bob and Patricia Hauser, earlier this month.

Patricia Hauser says Joshua Hakken showed up at her home at 6:30 a.m. last Wednesday and tied her up. He then fled the home in her 2009 Toyota Camry with his sons and met up with his wife. Later that day investigators were led to Madeira Beach where they believed the Hakkens took a sailboat into the Gulf. Surveillance images showed the boat leaving the slip about 3 hours after the kidnapping occurred. Two adults and two children could be seen on board.

CNN eventually found the couple in Havana on Tuesday. Authorities in Cuba wasted no time in handing the family over to the U.S. State Department and the FBI.

“Our grandchildren are safe,” grandfather Bob Hauser told CNN. He thanked Cuban authorities "for being so cooperative and returning the kids."

The grandparents had a chance to speak with the children before they left Cuba.

The family dog is ready and waiting to be reunited with the boys.

Sources: CNN, NY Daily News