Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Woman describes jailhouse romance with Sharyn Hakken

TAMPA — It began with card games after lock-down in the jail pod 26-year-old Lacrecia White shared with six dozen women. Soon she learned the smiling, hazel-eyed woman who kept winning at spades was a college-educated engineer, someone who could help White figure out where her life had gone wrong.

"That's how we started talking," White recalled. "That's how it became more than just a spades game."

But as the relationship shifted from friendship to romance, it would take on dimensions White had not anticipated. That's because her new companion was Sharyn Hakken, the 34-year-old Tampa woman who made international headlines in April when she and her husband, Joshua Hakken, allegedly kidnapped their two young sons and sailed with them to Cuba after losing their parental rights.

Among the unforeseen revelations in the Hakkens' story have been allegations of spousal abuse, exotic suspicions of government and an obsession with the books of blockbuster fantasy writer Terry Goodkind. But few developments have been as unexpected as Sharyn Hakken's headlong pursuit of a jailhouse love affair with a younger woman even as her husband, Joshua Hakken, 35, continued to express his devotion in handwritten letters.

Sharyn Hakken's relationship with White came to light Monday, when the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office released more than 1,500 pages of evidence in the Hakkens' case. The couple are in jail awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping, child abuse and other offenses. Their sons, ages 3 and 5, are now in the care of Sharyn Hakken's parents.

Among the documents released Monday was an 18-page love letter Hakken wrote to White in late August. In the letter, Hakken called White her "girlfriend" and said she was "head over heels in love" with her. At one point, Hakken exclaimed, "Let's get married!"

The letter was further evidence of problems between the Hakkens that could be consequential for their defense strategies. In the face of indications that Joshua Hakken might have beaten and choked his wife, Sharyn Hakken's attorney has said he might argue his client was a victim of battered-spouse syndrome.

In an interview at her Seminole Heights home on Wednesday, White, a felony probationer studying to be an electrician, confirmed that she is involved in a relationship with Sharyn Hakken, albeit one that is complicated by the walls that now separate them.

"It's kind of hard to be girlfriends when we're distant," White said. Yet she said she continues to talk to Sharyn on the phone every day, and sometimes visits her in jail.

White dismissed prurient interest in the relationship, saying she and Sharyn never physically consummated their bond during their four weeks together in jail. "We would just talk to each other all day," she said. "I think she's one of the most amazing people I've ever met, which is why I had to keep talking to her."

White, who was jailed for violating her probation on a charge of dealing in stolen property, said Hakken had a contagiously positive attitude.

"She helped me break myself apart and find my insecurities and figure out why they were there," said White, who is herself the mother of a 5-year-old girl.

Wary of affecting her criminal case, Sharyn Hakken rarely talked about her husband or sons, White said. When she did talk about the boys, White said, she dropped her sunny exterior and became very emotional.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

Woman describes jailhouse romance with Sharyn Hakken 09/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 10:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Accused cardinal denies Australia sex abuse allegations, takes leave of absence


    ROME — One of the most senior Vatican officials to be charged with sexual offenses denied on Thursday the allegations levied against him by Australian police, saying he would take a leave of absence as one of Pope Francis' chief advisers to defend himself.

    Cardinal George Pell meets the media at the Vatican on Thursday. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney says Pell will return to Australia to fight sexual assault charges as soon as possible. [Associated Press]
  2. Tie vote blocks grant money for husband of Dade City mayor

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Taking another shot at obtaining a Community Redevelopment Agency grant to improve his downtown building, the husband of Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez was denied this week by a deadlocked board.

    Mayor Camille Hernandez recused herself but was asked to stay in the room.
  3. Lightning planning $6 million upgrade to practice facility


    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will invest $6 million in upgrading the team's practice facility, the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

    The plan will create a brand new locker room and training facilities for the team, an 18,000 square foot addition.
  4. Deputies responding to car crash in Riverview find shooting victim inside


    RIVERVIEW — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after deputies responding to a single-car crash late Wednesday discovered someone in the car had been shot, authorities said.

  5. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us


    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]