TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Two young boys seem unaware their parents kidnapped them and believe their sailboat trip to Cuba was only a vacation, not an attempt by their mom and dad to flee U.S. authorities, the children's grandparents said Thursday.
Patricia and Bob Hauser said they want to get the boys back to a normal schedule and "just be carefree little boys again." The grandparents were awarded custody of the young boys before their parents kidnapped them, detectives said.
"We haven't asked the boys anything about the journey," Patricia Hauser said at a news conference outside their house in suburban Tampa. "We're just letting them tell us as things come out, if they feel like talking. We're just treating it like a vacation."
The grandparents have legal custody of 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase, who appeared briefly during the news conference to say "hi." Cole jokingly struck a pose on the lawn for the cameras and stuck out his tongue. Chase held up his toy cars.
Their parents, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, were charged with kidnapping the boys and ordered to remain in jail without bond. Judge Walter Heinrich ordered them to have no contact with any of the victims or witnesses in the case.
They'll face a judge during a pretrial detention hearing on Friday. Heinrich told the couple that they could be ordered to remain in jail without bond until their cases are resolved, depending on the evidence presented at the hearing.
The pretrial detention hearing was requested by special prosecutor Jennifer Johnson, who declined to comment after the hearing on why she asked for it. The Hakkens are being represented by the public defender's office, which has also declined comment.
Joshua and Sharyn Hakken arrived in Florida early Wednesday with their sons and the family dog, accompanied by federal, state and local authorities after being handed over by Cuban officials. The children were "happy and sleepy" on a flight back to the U.S., sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said in an email Wednesday.
Friends of the couple say they seemed to have a charmed life, doting on their two young boys, buying a comfortable home and building successful careers as engineers.
"This is a train that went completely off the tracks, and I don't have any explanation for how it can go off the track that badly basically in a year and a half. It's very bizarre," said Darrell Hanecki, who employed Sharyn Hakken for nearly a decade at Hanecki Consulting Engineers.
Hanecki said Wednesday that she was an easygoing and relaxed employee who worked from the home they owned in sunny Tampa so she could spend more time with the kids. She brought the boys into the office a few times to show them off to her colleagues.
Continue reading this story on the...