The couple accused of abducting their two young sons and taking them to Cuba used email and Facebook in an attempt to throw authorities off their trail, court records show.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Jay Best wrote in a search warrant affidavit that the laptop of Joshua and Sharyn Hakken had “numerous electronically created documents that detailed the suspects plan to defect from the United States of America with the victims of the kidnapping.”
The abduction of Chase, 2, and Cole, 4, from their maternal grandparents’ North Tampa home took place April 3.
But on April 5, Sharyn Hakken used Facebook’s instant messaging feature to tell an acquaintance in Alabama that she was still in Tampa, the affidavit said.
The Hakkens and their sons were already on a 25-foot sailboat headed for Cuba on that day, according to investigators.
The affidavit also said that Joshua Hakken was living in the Detroit Resort Motel in Spring Hill for eight weeks as he plotted to take his family out of the country.
Hakken used an alias, “Richard Dominick,” and gave motel managers the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” as the best way to contact him “during the extended stay at the hotel,” the affidavit said.
Hakken checked out of the Detroit Resort in the early morning hours of April 3, the day Cole and Chase were taken from the home of their grandmother, Patricia Hauser, authorities said.
In the affidavit, investigators said they had requested search warrants for Joshua Hakken’s email account and Sharyn Hakken’s Facebook account because the privacy settings had been activated and investigators could not access it.
“Social networks and the communication through them can be used to facilitate escape, concealment of significant others, parental abductions and evasion of law enforcement,” FDLE special agent Chuck McMullen wrote in the affidavit.
The abduction took place a day after a Louisiana court granted Hauser and her husband, Bob, legal custody of the children. Investigators said the Hakkens lost custody of their boys after police found the parents in a Louisiana hotel room in June with drugs and weapons.
During the abduction, Joshua Hakken tied up Hauser and took her Toyota Camry, investigators said. Hakken then met up with his wife, switched cars and left the second getaway vehicle in a Madeira Beach parking garage.
The Hakken family showed up at a boat slip between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. April 3 and told the slip’s owner the family may be “heading to Key West … and possibly South America,” according to a federal search warrant affidavit filed last week.
Hakken bought the 1972 Morgan sailboat in January, investigators said. He put down $3,000 toward the $3,500 cost of the boat.
He also paid the slip owner $400 to store the boat on the property. He would “visit the boat once a week and load boxes of supplies into the boat’s cabin,” court records show.
Investigators said the boat was seen on surveillance video sailing out of Madeira Beach on April 3.
Later that day, investigators searched the Hakkens’ home at 3609 S. Sterling Ave and found a map with a thumbtack on Gila National Forest in New Mexico, Ross wrote. A map of the forest also was found in a trash bin.
Hakken had told others “he would like to travel to Gila National Forest in New Mexico as well as Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina,” the affidavit said.
Investigators say those were false clues designed to lead authorities away from his true destination of Cuba.
Also found during the search of the Hakkens’ house was an empty box for a Toshiba Satellite laptop, leading investigators to believe the family took the computer with them, the affidavit said.
Authorities learned the Hakkens were on the boat April 5 — the day Sharyn Hakken chatted on Facebook — after receiving a tip from the woman who sold the boat to the Hakkens.
On April 7, Cuban officials told the State Department that the Hakkens were spotted at Hemingway Marina in Havana.
Two days later, Cuban officials agreed to send the Hakkens back to American soil, and a contingent of local, state and federal authorities flew to Havana to retrieve them.
The Hakkens, along with the family dog, returned to Tampa at 1:30 a.m. April 8. Chase and Cole were reunited with their grandparents while Joshua and Sharyn Hakken were booked at Orient Road Jail.
Authorities also seized all of the Hakkens’ property on the boat, including a blue backpack that contained the Toshiba laptop, the affidavit said.
Charges against the Hakkens include kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, burglary and interfering with custody. A judge ordered that the couple have no contact with their children, the Hausers or other witnesses in their case.
The Hakkens have pleaded not guilty and will be held without bail at Falkenburg Road Jail through their trial.
Their next court appearance, a disposition hearing, is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 30.