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9-Year-Old Boy Found 7,000 Miles Away on Tropical Island: Father Arrested for Kidnapping

Billy Hanson
Billy Hanson, 9, was kidnapped by his father Sept. 4, and authorities didn't find him until late last month on tropical island Niue, about 7,000 miles from his home. |

A 9-year-old boy was found 7,000 miles away from his Pennsylvania home on the tiny tropical island of Niue in the South Pacific last week. Billy Hanson of Seattle and his father Jeffrey Ford Hanson had gone missing after he visited him, but FBI and the island's authorities eventually tracked them down on the island, which is about 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand.

The 9-year-old boy who was discovered 7,000 miles away from home after not showing up to board his flight back to his mother in Philadelphia on Sept. 4. The boy split his time between his mother and father after their divorce, spending summers with his dad, but did not return home. Jeffrey Hanson, 46, was an experienced sailor with a yacht, and because authorities learned the boy was last seen getting on it at Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle Aug. 30, they started an international search for them, according to Agence France-Presse.

Despite the warning that the "possibilities are endless" for where Hanson could be hiding with his son, authorities eventually tracked him to Niue, which is known to its 1,200 residents as The Rock. Local police arrested Hanson on Oct. 29 and charged him with international parental kidnapping.

"We are grateful to law enforcement authorities in Niue for their exceptional efforts in finding Billy Hanson and taking Jeffrey into custody," the FBI said in a statement.

The younger Hanson was left on the island with a police escort while arrangements were made for his return, and the story of his kidnapping spread fast on the small island.

"When I was at the petrol station he came past and people were whispering 'there's the boy who was kidnapped,'" said Niue Star newspaper editor Michael Jackson. "It's all been quite exciting for us."

While his father was deported, Hanson has been having fun until he returns to his mother in Pennsylvania.

"I saw him at a barbecue Friday and he did not look stressed," Jackson said. "He had a Niue T-shirt on and was enjoying himself."

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