Daniel Hauser faces custody hearing today

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS, JACKIE CROSBY, ANTHONY LONETREE and CURT BROWN , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: May 26, 2009 - 12:32 PM

Colleen and Daniel Hauser, who ended a dramatic weeklong manhunt Monday, were back at home this morning and facing a court hearing this afternoon to clarify Daniel's custody and the next steps in his medical care for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

NEW ULM, MINN. -- Colleen and Daniel Hauser, who ended a dramatic weeklong manhunt Monday, were back at home this morning and facing a court hearing this afternoon to clarify Daniel's custody and the next steps in his medical care for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The Hausers returned home to Minnesota on a predawn charter flight after turning themselves in to authorities with the assistance of a lawyer in Southern California. Early reports said that Daniel, 13, was turned over to the custody of Brown County child protection workers.

But he was seen by reporters late this morning riding a four-wheeler with his mother on the family’s farm in rural Sleepy Eye, heading across the road to their dairy farm.

Calvin Johnson, an attorney for the teen's parents, said Daniel was in the company of Brown County child protection workers Monday and was having his cancer evaluated at a Twin Cities hospital. Daniel's parents were with him, Johnson said, and the boy was expected to return to the family home Monday night.

A court hearing is expected to begin at 2:15 p.m. today in New Ulm to clarify Daniel's custody arrangement and determine the next steps in his medical care. Brown County Attorney James Olson said he doesn't expect to charge Colleen Hauser and said arrest warrants have been quashed because she voluntarily returned. The county attorney said the judge will want to know where the parents stand on chemotherapy treatment, which could influence his own course of legal action.

Hodgkin's lymphoma was diagnosed in Daniel in January, and a Brown County judge ordered him into medical treatment earlier this month after his parents ceased his chemotherapy, citing religious and other objections. Doctors have testified that the boy has a 90 to 95 percent chance of surviving if he receives a recommended course of chemotherapy but only a 5 percent chance if he does not.

In an extraordinary twist to the story, Colleen and Daniel's return was videotaped by a California film company, Asgaard Media, which arranged their charter flight back to Minnesota and made the video of their account available to authorities.

Asgaard, whose principals are connected to the California alternative-health community, arranged Daniel's return through a California attorney named Jennifer Keller. The FBI and sheriff were kept posted on the arrangements. Keller said Colleen was worried about being arrested, so the private plane returned to New Ulm at 3 a.m.

Teen 'was going to run away'

In the video, Colleen Hauser said Daniel was going to run away from home last winter if forced to undergo more chemotherapy. He had one round of chemotherapy in February before his case mushroomed into a national story.

"Danny was going to run away," Colleen Hauser said on the video. "Then what do I have? That just broke my heart."

In an interview Monday night, Keller said Colleen Hauser told her that she believes chemotherapy is toxic and will ask a judge for permission to use alternative treatments. Colleen Hauser told Keller she would abide by whatever the court orders, including chemotherapy.

"He appeared tired, but he was not in acute distress," said Keller, who met the Hausers on Sunday at her office in Irvine, Calif.

Hoffmann would not comment on where Colleen and Daniel spent the past week, on whether Daniel received alternative cancer treatment and on who assisted the pair in their remarkable cross-country flight.

Another California attorney, Susan Daya, had been seen with the Hausers in Minnesota last week and was listed in a nationwide crime alert issued by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Daya did not return phone calls late Monday.

Olson said he expects all charges against Daniel's mother to be dropped, although a statement from Hoffmann's office indicated that charges could be brought against others connected to the case.

Daniel's case exploded into a national manhunt last Tuesday, when he and his mother failed to show up for a court hearing at the Brown County Courthouse. Daniel's father, Anthony, told the judge the two had left the farm the previous evening, and Judge John Rodenberg issued a warrant for their arrest. After the pair were sighted in Southern California last Tuesday morning, apparently en route to Mexico for medical treatment, Brown County authorities enlisted the help of Interpol, the FBI and federal border authorities. On Thursday, Anthony Hauser appealed from the family farm for the pair to come home.

Planning the return

The denouement began to take shape on Saturday, when Keller, a prominent California defense attorney, was contacted by an attorney associated with Asgaard Media. On Sunday, Keller brokered an agreement with law enforcement authorities and made arrangements for Daniel and Colleen to fly home.

Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann, who was consulted on the return arrangements, said Monday night that Daniel's return will end his office's involvement in the case.

Daniel's voluntary return to Minnesota produced expressions of relief Monday among people close to the case.

'They were ready to be home'

"I'm just elated he has been found and the family has brought him home so he can get treatment," said Dr. Bruce Bostrom, the pediatric oncologist who first diagnosed Daniel's Hodgkin's lymphoma in January.

"I was worried that he might end up dying in Mexico." Bostrom was not working Monday and had not seen Daniel and was unsure whether he had been evaluated at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. A hospital spokeswoman said that she was checking but that Daniel hadn't been admitted.

Hoffmann, who had gone to Los Angeles to watch his son play right field for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was thrilled about Daniel's return.

"I think they wanted to come back home and get together with their family," Hoffman said. "They were ready to be home. I'm glad this came to a happy ending. That was our main objective: To bring them back to Minnesota safely and it has been accomplished."

jross@startribune.com • 612-673-7168 crosby@startribune.com • 612-673-7335 alonetree@startribune.com • 612-673-4109 curt.brown@startribune.com • 612-673-4767

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