A Hopatcong NJ man has been charged with kidnapping after allegedly abducting his two sons and fleeing to Florida.
According to law enforcement, the 36-year-old suspect took his 7-year-old son and his 8-year-old son in February.
The suspect allegedly fled with a childhood friend who is an accused sex offender. The friend was previously convicted of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, rape, and sexual battery.
The boys’ mother reported them missing after the suspect failed to return them to her home in Landing NJ, prompting police to issue a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. Law enforcement, including both state and federal authorities, immediately began to investigate.
The children were missing for approximately six weeks. Authorities eventually tracked down the suspect at a motel in New Port Richey, Florida. Police were able to locate the suspect by using a cell phone registered to the suspect’s accomplice and triangulating their location.
Once the suspect was in custody, the children were returned to their mother in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the suspect was taken back to Sussex County NJ after he waived extradition.
The suspect recently appeared in Sussex County Superior Court, located in Newton NJ, for a bail hearing. The suspect, who has been charged with kidnapping and interference of custody, did not speak during the hearing.
At the hearing, the superior court judge maintained the suspect’s bail at $800,000. He also ordered that the suspect be prohibited from contacting his children while the charges are pending.
Prosecutors in the case believe that the kidnapping was carefully planned in advance. Moreover, prosecutors said that the kidnapping attempt was intended to “permanently deprive” the suspect’s ex-wife of custody of the children. The suspect reportedly changed his own appearance and the appearances of his children in order to avoid being recognized. He also allegedly disconnected his cell phone.
For additional information about this case, access the NJ.com article entitled “Judge Maintains $800K Bail for Hopatcong Dad Accused of Kidnapping Sons.”