Parents who took kids to Cuba to remain jailed over weekend, judge rules

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 9:00am

The couple accused of abducting their sons and sailing to Cuba will remain jailed without bond through the weekend, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.

The judge also appointed a public defender to represent Josh and Sharyn Hakken after they said they wouldn't be able to pay for a lawyer on their own.

They will return to court Monday for a pretrial detention hearing, the judge ruled.

Police say Josh Hakken broke into the home where the boys were living with their grandparents, tying up their grandmother before whisking the two children away on April 3, a day after he and his wife lost their parental rights.

They then sailed to Cuba with the two boys, ages 2 and 4, triggering an international manhunt that ended this week.

Given Florida sentencing guidelines, a conviction on the kidnapping charges alone could mean the Hakkens will spend the rest of their life behind bars.

The two children, Chase and Cole, are with their grandparents in Tampa, where they were living before the alleged kidnapping on April 3.

Police: Parents talked of 'journey to the Armageddon'

The Hakkens' ordeal began in June when the family was staying at a hotel in Slidell, Louisiana.

Responding to a call, police officers found the parents "acting in a bizarre manner," Slidell police said in a statement.

Inside the room where the boys were, they found narcotics and weapons.

"They were talking about 'completing their ultimate journey' and were traveling across the country to 'take a journey to the Armageddon'," police said about the parents.

Louisiana authorities took the children from their parents following that incident.

About two weeks later, their father showed up at a foster family home "with a firearm demanding the return of his children," Slidell police said. He fled after the foster parents called 9-1-1.

Over subsequent months, the parents "did not participate in the system," said Sheriff David Gee of Hillsborough County. He did not offer details.

"As a result of that, the authorities in Louisiana gave custody to the grandparents," he said.

That transfer became official on April 2, when a Louisiana judge terminated the suspects' parental rights.

Early the next morning, Patricia Hauser told police that Josh Hakken entered her Florida home, tied her up and sped away with the children and the family dog in a silver 2009 Toyota Camry.

They met up with Sharyn Hakken, sheriff's investigators said, and eventually ended up on a 25-foot sailboat named Salty.

The boat's seller later tipped off authorities after word got out about the alleged abduction.

It was at the Hemingway Marina, on Tuesday, that CNN found the family -- hunkered inside the boat, under the watch of Cuban security forces.

That morning, U.S. officials in Havana told CNN that they were afraid the children could be in danger from their parents.

Armed Cuban security agents watched over the family most of the day until it was led away peacefully that afternoon.

Boys 'fine, happy and sleepy' on return to U.S.

Cuba and the United States are divided by far more than the Straits of Florida.

But this week, U.S. officials repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the Cuban government's "extensive cooperation."

The Cuban foreign ministry said the boat pulled into a marina just west of Havana in bad weather Sunday.

The two governments shared information, which led to the return of the family and their dog to the United States.

During their flight, they were accompanied by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detectives and U.S. federal and state law enforcement authorities.

U.S. diplomatic officials waited with the family at Havana's airport until a plane carrying American law enforcement officials arrived to return them to Florida.

The two boys were "fine, happy and sleepy" as they boarded the plane, the sheriff's office said. The aircraft touched down about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at Tampa International Airport.

Some time later, the boys and dog were reunited with the grandparents.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann, Kim Segal and John Zarrella contributed to this report.

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