Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Still no sign of kidnapped Hakken boys or parents

TAMPA — Authorities spent another fruitless day Sunday searching for the man accused of kidnapping his two young sons and fleeing on a sailboat into the unpredictable waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Joshua Hakken, 35, along with his wife, Sharyn Hakken, 34, and their two boys — Cole, 4, and Chase, 2 — are thought to be on a 25-foot sailboat that launched Wednesday from Madeira Beach, just hours after the kidnapping.

Hakken and his wife had lost custody of the children after the husband's drug-possession arrest in Louisiana. Authorities said Joshua Hakken was armed with a gun when he tied up his mother-in-law early Wednesday and kidnapped the kids from her house north of Tampa.

"We continue to receive leads, and every one of them (is) investigated," Larry McKinnon, a Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman, said in a statement.

Law enforcement has enlisted the help of boaters this weekend, asking them to contact authorities if the family is spotted.

Hakken, sheriff's officials say, is thought to be an experienced sailor. And so far, good gulf weather would have done little to hamper Hakken's escape.

But good weather favors fugitive and searcher alike.

The National Weather Service said the gulf is in a "stable" pattern that is expected to last for much of the coming week. Forecasters expect winds no higher than 17 mph up to 60 miles out from Florida's west coast with seas of 2 to 3 feet during the next two days. Farther out, the seas are choppier — 3 to 5 feet with winds about the same.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday it must halt its search from time to time to respond to other calls. On Sunday, Coast Guard officials declined comment.

Those familiar with the gulf and sailing said Hakken's sailboat, a 1972 Morgan with an outboard motor, is fully capable of a long voyage, though he faces some daunting challenges.

The boat has a blue hull, white mainsail and the word "Salty" painted on the back. Gaston Garces of Tampa listed the boat for sale at $3,500 and told WTSP-Ch. 10 he sold the boat to Hakken several weeks ago.

Garces declined to comment further on Sunday.

"We did sell the boat to him," Garces said. "But right now, the detectives want to work things out" before he speaks to the media.

The advertisement for the boat was posted online a month ago. It said the vessel was "in very good solid condition" with a new bilge pump, a CD player, a CB radio and a 19-inch flat screen TV with DVD player.

"Extremely strong boat that could (go) anywhere from weekend beach trips with the family, to even taking a trip to the Bahamas with no problem," the ad said.

The ad also said it had a draft of less than 3 feet, "perfect for going to the beach in shallow areas."

Investigators have no doubt taken note of one other point mentioned in the ad — the boat's 15-horsepower outboard motor has a gas tank with a capacity of just 6 gallons.

While an AMBER Alert continues in states bordering the gulf, investigators said they cannot assume Hakken is still at sea.

Relatives of the Hakkens did not return calls seeking comment.

Bill Schweigart, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy who served five years before his 2000 discharge as a lieutenant, said he worried about Hakken's ship-handling abilities.

Schweigart, who wrote a novel about the Coast Guard called Flipping the Cable, noted that Hakken isn't like most recreational boaters who simply call for help on the radio if they get into trouble. Hakken, he said, isn't likely to ever call the Coast Guard.

"There is very little margin for error even for the best and most experienced of sailors," Schweigart said.

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected]

     
Comments
Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

PAHOA, Hawaii — White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago. Auth...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have been restored at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said. About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. 
Updated: 4 hours ago
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Published: 05/20/18
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18
He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

Cosmo DiNardo declared "I am a savage no explanation needed" on social media seven months before police say he lured four young men to his family’s farm, shot them to death, ran one of them over with a backhoe and dumped three of their bodies in a pi...
Published: 05/19/18
Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrested an off-duty Largo firefighter found asleep at the wheel shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.Patrol deputies saw a 2013 Dodge Dart, facing west and stopped in the intersection of Main Street and Bass Bou...
Published: 05/19/18
After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

Hours after Friday’s deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, bay area law enforcement officials pledged to beef up school security for the last remaining days of the school year.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister held a news conference late Frid...
Published: 05/18/18
Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

LARGO — Police are searching for a person of interest in the January disappearance of a 24-year-old man.The missing man is Timothy Patrick Cullen, 24, who Largo police said was last seen Jan. 22 at his home in the 500 block of Seventh Ave NE. His veh...
Published: 05/18/18
Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

BAYONET POINT — A 26-year-old man was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated child abuse and accused of fracturing an infant’s skull, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Brandon Scott Madrishin told deputies that a 3-month-old infant ...
Published: 05/18/18