Search for Minn. mom, son stretches into 4th day

Hausers and attorney
Colleen Hauser, left, and her son Daniel Hauser are shown with Susan Daya Hamwi, the California attorney who accompanied the two of them to a doctor's appointment on Monday. They left together and apparently fled to avoid chemotherapy for Daniel's cancer.
Photo by Steve Muscatello, courtesy of the Journal of New Ulm

Minnesota authorities said Friday they were turning to an international law enforcement agency for help finding a woman and her 13-year-old son on the run from court-ordered cancer treatment, while the FBI filed a warrant giving it more legal authority to assist in the search.

The FBI's affidavit says Colleen Hauser left Minnesota on Tuesday with her son, Daniel, a 13-year-old who is refusing chemotherapy to treat his Hodgkin's lymphoma. The affidavit alleges Colleen fled the state to avoid being prosecuted on two state counts of depriving another of custodial or parental rights.

The FBI says the pair flew from Minnesota to Los Angeles on Sun Country Airlines. The airline had no immediate comment Friday.

Interpol, which coordinates police investigations across national borders, was also joining the effort to find Colleen and Daniel Hauser.

Hauser family
Colleen, Daniel and Tony Hauser from Sleepy Eye, Minn. sit on the lawn of their dairy farm earlier this month. Colleen and Daniel have fled Minnesota rather than have Daniel undergo chemotherapy for his cancer.
MPR Photo/Sea Stachura

"We're putting every effort we can into this," said Jason Seidl, a sheriff's deputy in southern Minnesota's Brown County.

Colleen and Daniel were last seen Tuesday morning in southern California, before authorities in Minnesota even realized they had left the state. Investigators suspect they might have headed to one of a number of alternative cancer clinics in northern Mexico.

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A southern California woman who authorities said may have been traveling with the Hausers told The Associated Press on Friday that she was at home in the Los Angeles area and: "I've been here for many days."

"I'm not traveling with the Hausers," Susan Daya Hamwi said in a brief phone interview with the AP. When asked if she helped the Hausers leave their Sleepy Eye home, she said she would not comment. She did not take more questions, saying: "I can't make any statements right now," and she ended the conversation before a reporter could ask if she knew where the Hausers might be.

A Sun Country Airlines spokeswoman said information on passengers, method of payment, and travel companions are confidential.

According to court testimony, Daya Hamwi attended a doctor's appointment with Daniel and his mother on Monday, when he got a court-ordered X-ray of his tumor. The X-ray showed the tumor had grown, and Dr. James Joyce, the Hauser family doctor, told the court on Tuesday he tried to give Daniel more information about lymphoma but they rushed to leave.

"Under Susan Daya's urging, they indicated they had other places to go," Joyce testified.

Seidl said he could neither confirm nor deny whether Daya Hamwi was at home Friday, and he could not provide additional comment.

Doctors say Daniel has a cancerous tumor growing in his chest that's likely to kill him without chemotherapy, but the Hausers prefer alternative medicine.

Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann was in California himself Friday, but Seidl said it wasn't because of the Hauser case. Hoffmann's son, Jamie Hoffmann, had been called up from the minor leagues to make his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the outfield in a home series this weekend.

Seidl said Hoffmann wouldn't be back in New Ulm until next Tuesday, but that he was in close touch with his investigators. It's been a high-profile case for the Brown County Sheriff's Office, a small department with just 10 sworn officers and about 30 civilian employees.

"We don't go through something like this every day," Seidl said. "But you do train for it, and you know the technology and methods that are available to you, and hopefully you're ready for it."

The sheriff's office has given few details about investigative efforts in southern California. Seidl said FBI agents have been involved in looking for the Hausers in California.

Spokeswomen for the police departments in San Diego and Los Angeles said officers in those cities would only be called in to assist on specific information, and that hadn't happened in either place.

The Brown County charges of depriving another of custodial or parental rights are listed in a felony arrest warrant that would ease extradition if Colleen Hauser is caught in the United States. The "parental rights" listed in the charges are those of Brown County family services, which has been granted custody of Daniel to get him to a pediatric oncologist.

The federal paperwork filed Friday gives the FBI jurisdiction to assist in finding and arresting Hauser on those state charges. Authorities have said their options are less clear if the pair is already in Mexico.

On Thursday, Hoffmann spoke directly to Colleen Hauser at an afternoon news conference where he vowed to arrange her safe return without an enforcement action "if you have shown a good faith effort to come back."

At the same press conference, Anthony Hauser - Colleen's husband and Daniel's father - asked his wife to call him and to come home. "If you're out there, please bring Danny home so we can decide as a family what Danny's treatment should be," Hauser said.

Hauser did not return phone calls seeking comment on Friday.

Philip Elbert, the court-appointed attorney for Daniel, said Friday he hadn't heard from his client.

The sheriff's office also said Friday the Hauser family received a suspicious package at their home "from a concerned citizen who was trying to be helpful," but that it turned out to be harmless. Seidl wouldn't reveal the contents.

"It was nothing of concern," he said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)