Remember the Hakkens? Man Who Fled to Cuba with Children Declared Insane.

Anti-government conspiracies singled out


Joshua and Sharyn Hakken
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Offices

Last spring, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken made national news when, after losing custody of their children in Louisiana, they subsequently kidnapped them in Tampa, Florida, and attempted to flee to Cuba in a boat. The country returned them and the couple was arrested and charged with a host of kidnapping and abuse claims that could have landed them life in prison.

Part of the reason the story made national news at the time was because there was a lot of confusing reporting about why the Hakkens were doing what they were doing. They were described as anti-government, though as former Reason Editor Mike Riggs researched at the time, the case seemed to have started with an arrest over marijuana possession.

Eventually the media moved on to other matters, but Joshua is back in the news again today. He's been declared insane and will likely be sent to a mental hospital. Here's the Tampa Bay Times:

Doctors have determined that Joshua Hakken, the Tampa engineer whose anti-government paranoia drove him to abduct his children and flee to Cuba, is insane, making it likely he will be treated in a mental hospital before standing trial.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe said in a hearing Wednesday that he plans to determine within six weeks where to send Joshua Hakken, 36, for mental health treatment. Defendants who are incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness are ordinarily treated until they have recovered enough acuity to understand courtroom proceedings.

The fate of Hakken's wife and co-defendant is less clear. It appears the prosecution of Sharyn Hakken will continue, although the couple's trial date, previously set for next week, has been postponed. Her attorney has said she was an unwitting victim who got bullied into the kidnapping scheme by an abusive husband.

So we're back to anti-government paranoia, but this time the evidence released by the prosecution takes it further than the vague information we were getting last year. Hakken is described is being part of the chemtrail, government-weather-control conspiracy crowd (if you're unfamiliar with this group, just Google "HAARP").

And so this saga comes to an awkward end, but with a frankly weird epilogue from Times reporter Peter Jamison. In an explanatory video posted with his story, Jamison describes these conspiracies as originating from the far right and casually associated them with the Tea Party. He is not incorrect to point out that there are Tea Party members that are openly protesting chemtrails, as a quick online search will uncover. But a quick online search with the right keywords will also find some libertarians and progressives also buying in to chemtrail concerns. There's no information out there that suggests that chemtrail and weather control conspiracy theories are in any way part of the Tea Party movement, so it's an odd connection for Jamison to try to make.