Civil Liberties

[UPDATED] The Hakken Child Abduction Story Apparently Started With a Simple Marijuana Arrest


ABC Action News

UPDATE: Det. Daniel Seuzeneau, who it turns out is the public information officer for the Slidell Police Department, and not the officer who arrested Joshua Hakken, emails: "Mr. Hakken, as far as we know, was not at an anti-government rally. I never made that statement and don't know where that came from." 

It's been 24 hours since Joshua Hakken allegedly broke into his mother-and-law's house in Tampa, tied her up with zip ties, and left with his sons Cole and Chase–who are two and four years old–in his mother-in-law's car. Florida law enforcement authorities say the "anti-government" couple of Joshua and Sharyn Hakken are now on the run with Cole and Chase in tow. Law enforcement agencies in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana have all issued child abduction alerts, as well as disseminated pictures of the Hakken family. 

Over the course of those 24 hours, we've learned a thing or two about the Hakkens from law enforcement and the media. The story taking shape is both tragic and infuriating, as it appears from an interview with officials in Louisiana that the couple's problems do indeed stem from Joshua Hakken's 2012 marijuana arrest. 

Here's what we know at this point about the chain of events that led the Hakkens to "abduct" their own children:

  • Joshua Hakken, an engineer from Tampa, Florida, was arrested at an "anti-government rally" in a hotel in Slidell, Louisiana, on June 17, 2012; and charged with "Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a minor."
  • According to Det. Daniel Seuzeneau, the Slidell police officer who arrested Joshua Hakken a public information officer for the Slidell Police Department, Hakken "was under the influence of narcotics and also had narcotics inside his hotel room and he was speaking kind of out of his mind a little bit." 
  • Seuzeneau says that Department of Children and Family Services was called, the kids were taken, and Hakken was jailed for "maybe a week or so but not very long."
  • The children were placed in temporary foster care in Louisiana.
  • Allegedly armed with a firearm, Joshua Hakken tried to "abduct" his children from the foster care facility, and then left when he could not get inside.
  • According to multiple media outlets, a judge in Louisiana gave permanent custody of the Hakken children to Sharyn Hakken's mother in Tampa on Tuesday of this week. 
  • On Wednesday, Joshua Hakken broke into his mother-in-law's house shortly after her husband had gone to work, restrained her with zip ties, and left with the kids. Several hours later, his mother-in-law broke free and called the police. 
  • The Amber Alert issued by Hillsborough County (Florida) Sheriffs Department says the Hakkens "are anti-government," have "attempted a previous abduction at gun point in Louisiana," and "are considered armed and dangerous."
  • Joshua Hakken is facing two counts of kidnapping, two counts of interference in child custody, two counts of child neglect, one count of false imprisonment, burglary with a battery, and grand theft auto. If he was armed when any of that happened, Florida's 10-20-Life law could come into play. 

While I haven't been able to figure out anything about the "anti-government" rally Hakken was allegedly attending in Slidell, or what happened between June 2012 and Wednesday of this week, his and his wife's political beliefs are hardly the danger that law enforcement officials are making them out to be. From The Tampa Bay Times:

In February 2012, someone writing as "SailingBull" posted to the website for Adam vs. The Man, a forum "about challenging authority, sticking it to the man, and giving the millennial generation a voice."

"My name is Joshua Hakken," he wrote. "I am a father, a registered professional mechanical engineer and a veteran of the USAF. I am absolutely devoted to life, liberty, the rights of the individual and the Constitution of the United States of America. "

After saying that he had noticed that "things here in Florida have not added up for quite some time," he concluded, "in these crazy times, maintaining open communication lines for ideas, observations and news is absolutely crucial if the 'good guys' are to be successful in surviving to maintain the fight of ideas."

That same story includes several quotes from neighbors about how normal and pleasant the Hakkens are, save for a rather careless habit of smoking pot in their driveway.