Sheriff: Daniel Hauser returns to Minnesotaby Patrick Condon, Associated Press
New Ulm, Minn. — A 13-year-old cancer patient and his mother, who fled Minnesota last week to avoid court-ordered chemotherapy for him, returned voluntarily Monday, and the boy was being evaluated by a doctor, a sheriff and the family's attorney said.
Daniel Hauser was "immediately checked over medically" when he and his mother arrived on a charter flight at 3 a.m., Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann said.
He did not say where the pair have been since they missed a court hearing last Tuesday, prompting a nationwide search, or whether Daniel received medical treatment for his Hodgkin's lymphoma while they were gone.
"It is a good day as Daniel and Colleen Hauser have been safely returned to Minnesota," Hoffmann said.
Because Colleen Hauser returned voluntarily, a warrant for her arrest was lifted, and Hoffmann expected a federal fugitive arrest warrant would also be dropped, as is typical in these cases.
There are currently no outstanding charges against the Hausers in Brown County, said Chief Deputy Jason Seidl. He said Daniel was with his parents.
Hoffmann said he could not comment on whether charges might be filed in the future, but authorities said from the beginning that the goal of the warrants was just to bring Daniel back and get him treatment.
Daniel Hauser was being evaluated at a hospital in the Twin Cities on Monday, according to Tom Hagen, an attorney at the law office representing Daniel's parents.
Hagen said Calvin Johnson, his associate who represents Daniel's parents, is out of town and unavailable for comment, but authorized Hagen to disclose that information about the Hausers.
A message left for Daniel's court-appointed attorney was not returned Monday.
Phone messages left with the Hausers also were not immediately returned, and two sheriff's vehicles blocked the road leading to the Hausers' home in Sleepy Eye, about 100 miles southwest of the Twin Cities.
Hoffmann said Jennifer Keller, an attorney from Orange County, Calif., contacted the sheriff's office Sunday and said Colleen Hauser wanted to bring Daniel home. Hoffmann said a charter plane was donated by Asgaard Media of Corona, Calif.
Hoffmann declined to elaborate on Keller's involvement. Keller did not immediately return a message left at her office Monday. The voice message system at Asgaard Media was full and a message could not be left. The film and television production company did not immediately return an e-mail request for comment.
Dr. Bruce Bostrom, the pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota who diagnosed Daniel's cancer in January, said he was happy to hear of the boy's return.
"I'm delighted," Bostrom said. "I've been so worried that he was going to die in Mexico. I've been praying for his safe return, so I think my prayers will be answered."
Bostrom was not working Monday and didn't know if Daniel had gone to Children's Hospitals to be examined.
Hodgkin's lymphoma has a 90 percent cure rate in children if treated with chemotherapy and radiation, but doctors say Daniel has a 5 percent chance of survival without those treatments.
Daniel underwent one round of chemotherapy in February, but stopped after that single treatment, citing religious beliefs. The family opted instead for natural healing practices inspired by American Indians.
A judge ruled that the parents medically neglected Daniel and ordered them to get him an updated chest X-ray as well as select an oncologist for a re-evaluation. After the X-ray showed a tumor in Daniel's chest has grown, the mother and son left town.
The FBI said the pair flew to Los Angeles. Investigators suspected they might have been heading to one of a number of alternative cancer clinics in northern Mexico.
The American Cancer Society estimates 35 to 50 clinics in Mexican border towns attract cancer patients looking for alternatives to traditional U.S. treatment methods.
On Thursday, Anthony Hauser appeared before reporters asking 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," he said.
The FBI's affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for Colleen alleges she fled the state to avoid being prosecuted on two state counts of depriving another of custodial or parental rights in Brown County. The "parental rights" refer to those of Brown County family services, which was granted custody of Daniel to get him to a pediatric oncologist.
At a news conference Thursday, Hoffmann had vowed to arrange a safe return for Colleen Hauser without an enforcement action if she shows "a good faith effort to come back."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
- All Things Considered, 05/25/2009, 5:23 p.m.