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Former boat owner may be key to finding Hakken

4:45 PM, Apr 6, 2013   |    comments
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MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. - The search for Joshua Hakken, the father accused of kidnapping his sons Cole and Chase, centered on Madeira Beach on Friday.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's investigators believe he may be on the run in a 1972 Morgan sailboat named "Salty," which was recently purchased and docked behind a group of beach condos on 129th Ave E.

The former owner of the boat, Gaston Garces, told us by phone that he sold the boat to Hakken a few weeks back and his relationship with him goes deeper than just the sale, but would not elaborate on what that meant.

Garces withdrew from an interview with 10 News under advice from investigators who said his statements could hinder the search for the Hakken and the children.

On Wednesday, detectives said he tied up the children's grandmother a day after she was given custody of the kids before he vanished with them and possibly his wife, Sharyn.

The discovery of the boat came hours after Hakken's black 2006 GMC pickup truck was discovered abandoned in a parking garage at John's Pass.

Hakken's lost custody of the kids last year following a drug-related arrest at a Slidell, LA hotel in which drugs were found inside a hotel room with his children.

The focus of the search now appears focused on the boat as investigators try to figure out if he is sailing into the Gulf of Mexico or use the vessel as transportation to another getaway vehicle.

Hakken appears to be one step ahead of authorities in what is shaping up to be a well-orchestrated escape triggered when custody was officially handed over to the children's grandmother.

Andre Senior, WTSP

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