1. News

Still no sign of kidnapped Hakken boys or parents

Hillsborough sheriff’s officials say Joshua Hakken, thought to be on this 25-foot sailboat, is considered an experienced sailor.
Published Apr. 8, 2013

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


  1. Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, accused of stabbing and killing John Travlos and Germana Morin aboard their houseboat in 2013, testified on his own behalf at his murder trial in Pinellas County this week. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    It took the jury about four hours to find Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria guilty. Next they must decide whether to send him to Florida’s death row.
  2. Harold Fritz, 75, was awarded the nation's highest and rarest honor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in 1969. The Army lieutenant saved his platoon during an ambush in the Vietnam war. He spoke to students at Farnell Middle School in Tampa. MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times
    Harold Fritz wanted to talk about teachers’ salaries and education. The kids wanted selfies with one of the 71 living recipients of the nation’s highest honor.
  3. PDQ's new Trinity location features a self-serve sauce bar with seven signature sauces perfect for dipping chicken tenders. Courtesy of PDQ
    Both chains are expanding locally and held grand opening celebrations this month with giveaways and free food.
  4. Casey Cane has resigned as chair of Pinellas County’s Housing Finance Authority in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times story about his failure to disclose an arrest for a financial felony when he was 19. He also serves as a Palm Harbor fire commissioner. Casey Cane
    Casey Cane failed to disclose his arrest for a financial felony in 2006. He said he didn’t think he had to reveal that information.
  5. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks to about 75 people Tuesday at a city conference on innovation and collaboration. (City of Tampa photo by Janelle McGregor) Janelle McGregor
    City Hall brought together startups and the nonprofits that nurture them for a discussion of possible ideas to improve city operations and service.
  6. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView, use ground-penetrating radar to scan a portion of King High School campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Preliminary answers from the ground-penetrating radar could come as soon as next week.
  7. A federal judge gas stayed the Nov. 7 execution of death row inmate James Dailey, 73, for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row. Tampa Bay Times
    Dailey was set to be put to death Nov. 7. A judge ordered his execution to be postponed to give his attorneys time to present their claims. But the state can appeal.
  8. Markeith Loyd, suspected of fatally shooting a Florida police officer, attends his initial court appearance Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, at the Orange County Jail, in Orlando, Fla. Loyd spoke out of turn and was defiant during the appearance on charges of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend. He was injured during his arrest Tuesday night following a weeklong manhunt.
    The same jury found Loyd guilty last week of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting 24-year-old Sade Dixon outside her home in 2016.
  9. The new owner of a dilapidated mobile home park on Gandy Boulevard has sued the city of Tampa over a record-setting fine levied against the property for a massive tree removal in August. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
    A Gandy Boulevard mobile home park owner is suing the city of Tampa over a record $420,000 fine .
  10. Dashboard camera video shows a Tampa police cruiser pursuing Dusharn Weems through a parking lot. A second later, Weems is fatally injured when the car strikes him. Courtesy Haydee Oropesa
    The family of Dusharn Weems, 23, claims an officer intentionally struck him after he was spotted driving a stolen car.