Another father/psycho has plotted, kidnapped and has taken his son on the high seas to escape. What kind of father/psycho other than a mentally deranged one would do such a thing…no safety even considered for his young child…it is hard enough to take a three year anywhere…even buckled in a car seat… let alone on a boat with a psycho in charge.
Prayers going out to the Mother and hopefully she will be reunited with HER son soon and the PSYCHO brought to justice…
ST. PETERSBURG — Nothing about Paul Martikainen seemed suspicious when he showed up in St. Petersburg a month-and-a- half ago to retrieve a boat that his friend purchased.
The 35-year-old Palm Bay man made friends with other Salt Creek Marina boat owners, sharing beer and doughnuts with them as he lived on the sailboat while refurbishing it. He spoke fondly of his son and asked about basic boating tips, the boaters recall.
He certainly didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would abduct his 3-year-old child and take off with him in the boat, braving the Gulf of Mexico with no sailing experience. But that’s what authorities said Martikainen did after escaping a supervised visit with the boy in a Cocoa Beach park on Saturday.
The Cocoa police, FBI and U.S. Coast Guard were still searching for Martikainen and the boy, Luke Finch, on Monday as the boy’s mother issued a tearful plea before reporters.
“Please,” Christa Finch said at the Cocoa Beach Police Department press conference, “just bring Lukey home.”
Finch, who said the visits have been going on for six months, didn’t elaborate on how Martikainen and the boy got away from the court-appointed supervisor. But interviews with authorities and witnesses piece together what happened before and after the abduction.
Around 4 p.m. that Saturday — only a few hours after the father and son left the visit — boaters Gabriel Guzman and Sam Mageramov saw Martikainen sailing away from the Salt Creek Marina.
As he was leaving, they said a dinghy attached to Martikainen’s boat came loose. The two helped him tie it back to his boat, they said.
Guzman said at one point the boy emerged from inside the boat, but Martikainen told him to go back. The boy didn’t seem scared, Guzman said.
“We should have saved the boy,” Guzman said. “We could have saved him had we known.”
In recent weeks, Guzman said, Martikainen started asking various boating questions, such as how to tie certain types of knots.
Debra Van Skiver, who works for Neptune Towing and Recovery near the marina, said she sold the boat, a 1977 32-foot Bristol, to Martikainen for $6,109 during the third week of October. He told friends he was purchasing it for someone in Arkansas and would be transporting it after working on it, but Martikainen himself had no sailing experience.
He appeared to be living aboard the boat as he worked on it, said Ted Suratt, whose boat was docked next to Martikainen’s.
Suratt said Martikainen claimed to have dual citizenship and said he once served in the military in Finland. “He never gave an indication that he was capable of this,” Suratt said.
Van Skiver said the boat was seaworthy. It has a sleeping cabin, a kitchenette and standard safety equipment such as a compass and VHF radio. Martikainen purchased a GPS system before Thanksgiving, she said, but it has no EPIRB, a device that helps rescuers locate boats in distress.
The boat also had adult life vests but no child vests, and Van Skiver didn’t know if Martikainen bought one.
He mentioned he would try sailing it after visiting his son over Thanksgiving, Van Skiver said, and she advised him to take some boating classes first.
“This is a man with not a lot of sailing experience,” Van Skiver said, noting that she has a child, too. “It is impossible to take care of a child and sail a boat without multiple people.”
An Amber Alert sent out Saturday evening said Martikainen was thought to be traveling in a green 1995 Ford Explorer with tag number 142KEA. Shortly after news of the alert ran on local news broadcasts, a caller told authorities that the vehicle was at the marina, Matthews said, but the boat was gone.
The boat was recently painted battleship gray, covering the identifying numbers and making the vessel difficult to find in the water. This led authorities to believe the abduction was planned in advance, Cocoa Beach Police spokeswoman Barbara Matthews said.
The supervised visits had been going on for about six months, Finch said during her press conference. Martikainen was ordered to have supervised visitation because of previous allegations of abusing the boy, Matthews said.
Allegations that the father was physically abusing his son were verified by a Department of Children and Families investigation just days before the child went missing, according to DCF spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner.
But DCF said there was no reason for the state to intervene because the mother had primary custody and the child was also under the supervision of a family court judge.
DCF said it conducted several investigations into Martikainen this year but the only one it could comment on was the most recent, which verified the abuse.
Typically DCF refers such cases to the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office to determine if the allegations warrant criminal prosecution.
But that couldn’t have averted the boy’s disappearance Saturday. DCF closed it’s investigation on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.
Records show that Martikainen and Christa Lee Finch got a marriage license in 2004 in Palm Beach County. The ceremony was held at Great Outdoors in Titusville in Brevard County on Dec. 3, 2004.
Today reported Brevard County court records show they filed for divorce in July 2005. She was pregnant with Luke, and Martikainen agreed to give up his parental rights to the unborn child as part of their divorce agreement, the newspaper reported.
The two began living together again in September 2006, then moved out in January 2008, Today reported. He filed for joint custody when they broke up a second time because he said he had developed a bond with Luke.
Martikainen has an arrest record that includes driving without a license and failing to go to court multiple times in the 1990s. In 1999 he was arrested in Palm Beach on a felony charge of trafficking Ecstasy.
In February he was charged with child abuse and domestic battery.
Times researcher Carolyn Edds and staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes. com or (727) 893-8452.
Police seek help
Paul Martikainen is described as being 5 feet 11, 176 pounds, with blond hair and green eyes. Luke Finch is described as 2 feet 9, 33 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. According to the Amber Alert, the child was last seen wearing a blue sweatshirt, blue pants, and black and red fire engine sneakers.
Cocoa police ask anyone with information to call (321) 639-7620 or dial 911.
9:56 A.M. UPDATE — Luke Finch, 3, and his father have been found on a sailboat about 100 miles off the Sanibel coast, according to reports.The Coast Guard will be holding a press conference at 11 a.m.
news-press.com will continue coverage of this story as information becomes available.
Here’ s the official statement from the Cocoa Police Department:
The search for 3-year-old Luke Finch ended early this morning. The United States Coast Guard located the sailboat late last night and kept the boat under surveillance the entire night. By sunrise today, two Coast Guard Cutters and a helicopter converged on the sailboat and safely recovered Luke.
Right now, Luke is aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile which is expected in at the Coast Guard Station in Ft. Myers Beach at approximately 7:00 p.m. tonight. Detective Nellie Woodruff is also aboard the Cutter with Luke. Luke seems to be in good health. Investigators are transporting Luke’s mother to Ft. Myers for the reunion.
Paul Martikainen is still aboard the sailboat which is being towed to shore by the Coast Guard Cutter Kodiak Island. They will make landfall much later in the evening, at which time Martikainen will be taken in custody by the FBI on a Federal arrest warrant.
“We are extremely happy about the outcome of this. It could have gone so much worse and we are so thankful that Luke is safe. This was a group effort and would not have been possible without the help of many, many law enforcement agencies” stated Cocoa Police Chief Mark Klayman.
Cocoa PD and Luke’s family want to thank the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Game Over Task Force, FBI, ICE, United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District, Fish & Wildlife, St. Pete PD, and especially the United States Coast Guard.