Missing 9-year-old Billy Hanson, believed illegally taken by his father on a sailboat from Seattle, was found safe on the South Pacific island of Niue, 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, the FBI announced Wednesday.
Authorities on the island nation arrested his father, Jeffrey Ford Hanson, and U.S. authorities would begin working on extradition back to the United States for prosecution, the FBI said.
The incident began when the boy was expected to be put on a flight by his father for return to his mother on Sept. 4, but never showed up to the airport.
Family and friends said the father took the boy to Seattle’s Shilshole Marina and onto his boat in an apparent bid to take him out of the country.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Jeffrey Ford Hanson on Sept. 12 in federal court in Seattle after he was charged with international parental kidnapping.
The FBI has been searching the Hawaii area and the South Pacific ever since. The boy and his dad were found on the island of Niue, an island nation that is predominantly Polynesian with a population of about 1,400. It sits within a triangle formed by Tonga on the west, Samoa to the north and the Cook Islands to the east.
“Billy’s family has been notified and authorities are now working to reunite Billy with his mother,” the FBI said.
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