Law-enforcement authorities in Florida believe two missing boys may be on a sailboat headed for southern Florida after being kidnapped in Tampa by their “anti-government” father and their mother.
Brothers Cole Hakken, 4, and Chase Hakken, 2, were abducted from their grandmother’s home April 3, WTVJ-TV in Miami reported. The boys’ father, Joshua Hakken, 35, is suspected of forcibly taking the missing boys as he allegedly tied up his mother-in-law during the kidnapping.
Now, authorities suspect the boys are with their father and mother -- Sharyn Hakken, 34 -- on the couple’s 25-foot, 1972 Morgan sailboat, possibly heading toward southern Florida.
The U.S. Coast Guard is currently searching for the boat in the area between Key West, Fla., and Mobile, Ala. An Amber Alert has been reissued for Cole and Chase.
According to NBC News, Joshua Hakken was arrested in Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish last June 17 after attending an “anti-government rally.” It reported Hakken was subsequently charged with the unlawful sale of narcotics in the presence of minors and possession of marijuana.
WTVJ-TV reported the two boys were taken from their parents after the rally and placed in foster care. The boys’ maternal grandmother was granted custody of the boys April 2 in the wake of the couple’s legal troubles.
During the arrest in Louisiana, the parents acted “in a bizarre manner that alarmed officers.” They talked about “completing their ultimate journey” and were traveling across the country to “take a journey to the Armageddon,” according to the Slidell Police Department.
Although authorities anticipate the missing boys are with their parents on the sailboat, they have not ruled out the possibility that the parents boarded the sailboat as a temporary ruse and are in fact fleeing on foot.
“Wouldn't put it past them to be able to pull into one of these coves or one of these inlets and then board a vehicle. So we're not gonna eliminate our land search -- we're still maintaining the Amber Alert. We're now expanding it into the Gulf of Mexico,” Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office representative Larry McKinnon told WFLA.com.
“Hopefully, we're going to find them soon,” McKinnon said. “As we've mentioned before, our goal is to reach out to them in a peaceful manner and to allow them to open an exchange of communication and dialogue so we can get this resolved without anyone getting hurt.”