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Boaters aid search for missing Florida boys

12:48 PM, Apr 7, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- Florida authorities are asking recreational boaters enjoying the state's weekend weather to keep an eye out for a boat that could hold two kidnapped boys.

Joshua Michael Hakken is accused of forcibly removing sons Cole, 4, and Chase, 2, from their grandmother's custody in Tampa on Wednesday, WTSP-TV reports.

Authorities have been searching for a boat Hakken recently bought. It has a blue hull with the word "Salty" and a paw print in white on both sides. The Coast Guard, which has been aiding in the search, has been broadcasting an Amber Alert.

"We are hoping because of the weekend with the good weather, a whole lot of boats out on the water will give us a better opportunity to find them, with an increased amount of spotters," Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon told The Tampa Tribune on Saturday evening.

The message appears to be getting the attention of boaters along the Florida coast.

"I got kids and family myself, so we'll be definitely looking for them," Bryan Hinland told WTSP-TV.

Pedro Rodriguez said he was also keeping an eye out. "Every once in a while I looked out to see if I saw (the sailboat) or not," he said.

Investigators with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office say they believe Hakken shuttled his wife, Sharyn, and the boys onto the 25-foot sailboat around 10 a.m. Wednesday. Investigators are unsure whether Sharyn Hakken is part of the kidnapping plot or a victim.

The Hakkens lost custody of the children last year after Joshua Hakken was arrested on drug charges while attending an anti-government rally in Louisiana. The couples' parental rights were terminated on Tuesday and the boys were turned over to Sharyn Hakken's parents, according to the Tribune.

Law enforcement concedes that Hakken may have already ditched the boat and is on the run on dry land.

"They could (have) easily got on the boat and then had enough time to get off the boat and get into another car," McKinnon said.

 

USA TODAY

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