Father Accused of Abducting South San Francisco Children And Stealing Yacht Charged

Christopher Maffei did not enter a plea, but spoke out in court, according to witnesses, and said he was just taking his children from a home where they had been abused.

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Monday, Sep 10, 2012  |  Updated 2:37 PM PDT
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South SF Children Spotted Off Half Moon Bay

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Raw Video: Coast Guard Cmdr. Donald Montoro

Two children were rescued Friday from a sailboat that was stolen by their father, who is accused of abducting them from their mother's home in Central California, authorities said.

Kidnapped Children Spotted at Sea

Good news today for a desperate mom who has been without her two young children ever since she said their father snatched them away.
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The father accused of taking his toddlers from South San Francisco and stealing a yacht before they were rescued late Friday night was charged Monday with eight felonies, including kidnapping and child endangerment.

Christopher Maffei did not enter a plea, but spoke out in court, according to the Bay Area News Group, and appeared as though he was personally trying to lay out his defense strategy. He said he was simply  taking his children from a home where they had been abused. But the judge quickly admonished him. Authorities at this point, have not issued any public statement about abuse in the childrens' home.

Maffei was ordered to return to court on Sept. 17.

His arraignment is another chapter in a dramatic story that ended Friday about 10 p.m., when his children, Brooklynn, 3, and Devin, 2, were reunited with their mother, Jennifer Hipon of South San Francisco.

Hipon had previously told NBC Bay Area that Maffei, whom she had dated but never married, had recently returned from Thailand, and had wanted to see his children.

She agreed, but added that he had seemed increasingly anxious to be near the kids. His zeal to see the children scared her enough to seek a restraining order against him. She was at the courthouse in Redwood City last Tuesday seeking that order, when she said Maffei went to her home on James Court about 3 p.m.

Her mother was babysitting, and Hipon said he just grabbed the kids, one under each arm.

Police then believe Maffei took off in a rented white Ford Fusion to the Bellena Isle Marina in Alameda, where he later allegedly stole a yacht from Alameda and sailed away. Investigators say that Maffei had been at the harbor two weeks before, and had asked about buying a boat.

Early Friday morning, a fisherman tipped police after seeing Maffei and his kids off Pillar Point by the San Mateo County coast.

  The Coast Guard, the FBI and South San Francisco police were dispatched to retrieve the children, and were finally able to meet up with them on the Peninsula coast after dark,

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