ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - While authorities continue to search for Joshua Hakken, the father accused of kidnapping his two boys from their grandmother's custody, two people involved in a similar incident that griped the Bay Area are sharing their experiences.
Back in 2009, Paul Martikainen abducted his then 3-year-old son during a custody battle and child services investigation. Like the Hakken case, the now 39-year-old father also planned out the kidnapping of his son weeks in advance.
Martikainen took his son, Luke Finch, during a supervised visit from Brevard County and then drove to St. Petersburg Beach. While there, he boarded a 32-foot sailboat, similar to the vessel Hakken may be using to evade authorities.
"My thoughts go out to the children and the whole situation, but he must have felt extremely desperate to go so far," said Ruth Martikainen, Paul's sister.
Her brother remains in a Brevard County jail on kidnapping charges after the incident that resulted in a massive four-day search by the U.S. Coast Guard and ended off the coast of Ft. Myers.
Ruth Martikainen is also surprised by the parallels in the case, such as the planning and the escape by boat.
While she does not agree with her brother's actions, she calls him a loving father and sympathizes with his reasoning behind taking his son.
Martikainen also points out that Hakken, unlike her brother, used forced when he tied up the grandmother to take the boys.
"I think just desperation. I don't think there was a real true intent except to kind of get away from it all ... just to get away from the custody battle," said Martikainen.
For that reason, she has mixed feelings about Joshua Hakken's run from the law, noting that a father might commit such an act of desperation out of love for his children.
But Luke Finch's mother does not share those feelings. For days, Christa Finch pleaded on television that the father of her child return their son to her custody. When reached by phone today, Finch said she is troubled by the story that continues to draw national attention.
"It is very scary knowing that often it is the young and innocent children that are put in situations such as these, where there may be danger and risk of harm, and it is sad to think that the children are the ones that suffer."
Hakken is accused of tying up the children's grandmother at her Tampa home on Wednesday before taking Cole and Chase. Patricia Hauser was given custody of the boys on Tuesday following Hakken's drug-relation arrest in Louisiana last year.
The one person who may understand what the grandparents are going through the most is Finch, who agonized for days about her child's whereabouts.
"I don't believe anything can compare to the agonizing feeling you have when your child is missing; not knowing where they are and if they are safe, hurt, hungry, or sad, is the worst experience," she said. "As you wait to get news on where your child is and if they are okay, the minutes feel like hours and the days feel like years ...You don't want to eat and you can't sleep, and whenever you wake up from what little rest you get you're waking up to the nightmare of him missing."