TAMPA - The grandparents of two boys who investigators say were kidnapped by their non-custodial parents spoke with reporters on Thursday. The youngsters, 2 and 4, made an appearance before the cameras, as well.
Just two hours earlier, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, who are the parents of Cole and Chase Hakken, made their first court appearance in Tampa on kidnapping charges. They remain held without bond.
The grandparents, Patricia and Bob Hauser, appeared before reporters outside their north Tampa home shortly after 11 a.m.
Clear ground rules were laid out ahead of time. Specifically, there would be no discussion of the ongoing criminal investigation, including last week's abduction in which Patricia Hauser was allegedly tied up by Joshua Hakken.
Patricia Hauser profusely thanked the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office as well as the Cuban government.
"They called us from Cuba and let us talk to the boys before they ever left Cuba," she said. "We were just smiling from ear to ear and couldn't wait for that plane to arrive."
Bob Hauser also thanked the Sheriff's Office.
"They're amazing, just amazing," he said.
The Hausers also thanked the media and the public for both help and restraint, but made it clear that this would be their one and only meeting with reporters.
"We're trying to shield the boys," Patricia Hauser said.
Then it was time to meet the two boys, who stole everyone's hearts when they were brought outside.
They have not been told what really happened.
Sherriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said before the news conference the boys believed they took a vacation to Cuba and that all the reporters were at their house because of their amazing journey.
The boys had little to say, but did ham it up for the cameras here and there.
Then Patrica Hauser offered her thanks one last time and the 20-minute appearance ended with the family going back inside their house.