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Officials: Dad bought boat before abduction

Published:   |   Updated: April 6, 2013 at 08:19 AM
TAMPA -

Joshua Hakken purchased a 25-foot sailboat before abducting his two young sons and may be traveling on the Gulf of Mexico, officials said Friday.

According to authorities, Hakken kidnapped his sons, 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase, from the North Tampa home of their maternal grandparents, who were granted permanent custody Tuesday.

According to reports, Hakken, his wife, Sharyn, and the boys were on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico a few hours after the kidnapping, which occurred about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The whereabouts of the 1972 Morgan sailboat and the family remain unknown.

Investigators released information on the boat purchase Friday, a day after Hakken's pickup truck was found abandoned in a Johns Pass parking garage in Madeira Beach.

According to investigators, the boat has a blue hull with the name “Salty,” a picture of a paw near the back of the hull on each side and “St. Petersburg” in white lettering on the stern. The boat also has a blue Bimini top, and when the sail is unfurled it is white with blue trim. There is possibly a yellow horseshoe life preserver on deck.

The vessel has a registration number of FL3717BK.

Authorities didn't say when Hakken bought the boat but released photos of it, including an undated photo of Joshua and Sharyn Hakken on a dock.

Hakken's 2006 black GMC Sierra pickup, found late Thursday at Johns Pass, was brought to Tampa, where investigators were processing it for evidence, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities said they did not know if the Hakkens were armed. Previously, officials said they should be considered armed and dangerous.

On Thursday, investigators released audio of the 911 call made by the grandmother, Patricia Hauser, about 30 minutes after the abduction.

In the recording, a breathless Hauser tells the dispatcher that she had not seen Joshua Hakken for nearly a year before he broke into her house.

“He tied me up,” Hauser said. “My son-in-law just kidnapped my two grandchildren. They've been in state custody. He's not supposed to be near them.”

An Amber Alert for the boys was issued in Florida and other states, including Louisiana.

Both Joshua and Sharyn Hakken had anti-government beliefs, investigators said.

On Feb. 28, 2012, Hakken joined the online forum “Adam vs. The Man,” the official site of libertarian activist and talk show host Adam Kokesh.

“I am a father, a registered professional mechanical engineer and a veteran of the (United States Air Force),” Hakken wrote in his first forum post. “I am absolutely devoted to life, liberty, the rights of the individual and the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Hakken's drug arrest came while he was St. Tammany Parrish, La., attending an anti-government rally, officials said.

The Hakkens lost temporary custody after the arrest, and authorities said he later tried to take the boys from a foster home at gunpoint.

On Tuesday, Louisiana officials notified the Hakkens their parental rights were terminated and turned the boys over to Sharyn Hakken's parents.

Dave Couvertier, special agent with the FBI in Tampa, said the manner in which Hakken abducted the boys — not the anti-government sentiments — is what concerns law enforcement and led to the manhunt.

“We're working on the safe return of the entire family, specifically the boys,” Couvertier said. “This isn't about someone being anti-government. At this point, it's about parents who had their rights terminated … and triggered instinctively what they thought was the right thing to do.”

Couvertier said he does not think the Hakkens will harm their children and that the couple might simply have reacted to “the feeling of their parental rights being taken away.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Col. Donna Lusczynski said her agency, the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement are fielding tips from various states about the abduction. She would not specify how many or which states.

"We're working on getting information about the children on billboards in the southwest and southeast parts of the country," she said.

After the discovery of the boat, an Amber Alert issued in Tennessee was canceled.

Cole is 3 feet 9 inches tall and 44 pounds with brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing pajamas of an unknown color. Chase is 3 feet tall and 33 pounds with brown hair and eyes. He was also wearing pajamas of an unknown color.

Joshua Hakken, 35, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and 175 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and a full beard. Sharyn Hakken, 34, is 5 feet 4 inches tall and 150 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Joshua Hakken faces two counts each of kidnapping, child neglect and false imprisonment, in addition to a charge of burglary and car theft.

Sharyn Hakken does not face charges, deputies said.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the children or parents should call 911 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

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