On April 10, 2013, a couple accused of kidnapping their own children were arrested in Tampa after having been returned to the U.S. by Cuban authorities.
The couple had officially lost custody of their two young boys on April 2. Last year, police found the couple at a hotel in Slidell, Louisiana, acting abnormally, claiming to be “contemplating their ultimate journey” and discussing the Armageddon. Upon further investigation, the couple was found to be in possession of weapons and narcotics. At that point the children, ages 2 and 4, were removed from the couple’s care and placed in foster care under CPS (Child Protective Services). The father spent the next week in jail and then, upon his release, visited the foster home his children were taken to and demanded them back at gunpoint.
The family’s flight to Cuba began after the Lousiana Family Court gave permanent custody of the boys to the father’s parents. The day after the ruling, the father went to his parents’ home in Tampa and kidnapped the children after tying up his own mother. The parents had their escape planned, and in the days leading up to the kidnapping, they purchased a 25-foot sailboat, the seller of which later tipped off authorities regarding the parents’ plan. The father, his wife, and the two boys then proceeded to sail to Cuba. The couple arrived at the Marina Hemingway, a facility slightly west of Havana.
Upon the parents’ arrival, Cuban authorities informed the U.S. State Department of the family’s presence on the island. After such information was passed on, “constant communication” was maintained between U.S. officials and the Cuban Foreign Ministry. This level of contact, concern, and communication was an important step for U.S.-Cuba relations as there does not exist any sort of extradition agreement between the countries.
Law enforcement officers retrieved the family and brought them back to the U.S., where the father is currently facing a slew of criminal charges, including two counts of kidnapping, child neglect, false imprisonment, interference with child custody, and others. The grandparents have expressed deep appreciation for how the operation was handled, and have welcomed the young boys back.
The Law Office of Sandy T. Fox can guide you through a safe and effective resolution of your child custody issues. Studies estimate there are nearly 1,000 within-family kidnappings per day in the U.S. In these cases, there is roughly a 50 percent chance that the kidnapping will be committed by the mother or father.
Parental kidnapping is a traumatic event for the children and the custodial guardians, often resulting in long term emotional harm for all parties involved, and in some instances physical harm. State legislation (Florida Statute 61.45 & the Florida Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) and federal legislation (the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 & the International Child Abduction Remedies Act) have extended the degree of preventive measures and applicable punishment for those engaging in parental kidnapping. It is important to operate through the family court for any custodial issues you wish to dispute, whether you feel you deserve a higher degree of custody, or you don’t believe the person with custody should have such responsibility.