Parents Beg to Reconnect with Kidnapped Children - NBC Bay Area

Parents Beg to Reconnect with Kidnapped Children

Two kidnapped youngsters grew up here in the Bay Area

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Parents Beg to Reconnect with Kidnapped Children
    They had their children taken away from them 20 years ago. Now they hope to finally reconnect.

    The parents of two children who were kidnapped in Tennessee 20 years ago and found in San Jose on Monday pleaded with their now-adult children to get in touch with them or any other member of their family.
     
    Mark and Debbie Baskin showed pictures of their extended family and their youngest two children in an attempt to encourage contact with their eldest son and daughter, who they have not seen in two decades.

    "We are all praying that you will want to talk to us," Mark Baskin said.

    Their daughter, now 27, was living with her grandfather in San Jose at the time of his arrest earlier this week. Police said she was at home when they arrived and was "very upset."

    Investigators have not talked with Bobby, and neither of the children has talked to Debbie and Mark Baskin.

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    Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Dan described Christi as overwhelmed.

    "We're hopeful that they will listen to their parents' plea," he said.

    Christi and Bobby Baskin, who are now known by their aliases Jennifer and Jonathan Bunting, were 8 years old and 7 years old, respectively, when their maternal grandparents took them from Tennessee to  live in San Jose, according to investigators.

    Marvin Maple and his wife Sandra in 1988 accused their daughter Debbie and son-in-law Mark of abusing the children.

    The Maples were awarded temporary custody of Bobby and Christie while the situation was sorted out, but the investigation did not turn up  evidence of abuse, according to Goodwin.

    A few weeks before a court date to turn the children back over to  their parents, the Maples allegedly put their house on the market and fled  Tennessee with Bobby and Christi on March 1, 1989.

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    "When they found out the legal system was going to give (the children) back, they decided to steal their own grandchildren," Goodwin said.

    A warrant was issued for Maple, who took on the name John Bunting, and his wife Sandra. Christi and Bobby became Jennifer and Jonathan Bunting.

    Rutherford County sheriff's investigators collected evidence and involved the FBI in the search for the children. Segments on "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries" turned up few leads, Goodwin said.

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    Then, the July 2007 creation of a cold case investigations unit at the sheriff's office brought new life to the case. It was reopened in the  fall of 2007.

    The Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a call late last year that Bobby and Christi were seen with their grandfather in San Diego, Goodwin said. Sandra Maple had died in 2005, investigators said.

    Pitching the story to a San Diego paper in January resulted in a front-page article about the kidnapping.

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    Bobby and his grandfather read the article online and told people they know the article made them angry, Goodwin said.

    Rutherford County investigators, who had received an anonymous tip from someone in San Jose who "put two and two together," contacted San Jose police Monday, Goodwin said.

    The anonymous caller, who San Jose police Chief Rob Davis called a "hero," told investigators the kidnapper is named John, drives a green van and frequents a cafe on the corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Bernal Road  in South San Jose.

    Further investigation led San Jose police to a condominium in the 7000 block of Banff Spring Court. Maple was arrested from his home, where  Christi also lives. Bobby, now married, also lives in the area.


    During interviews, Maple admitted his identity. On Thursday, he waived extradition back to Tennessee.

    During a news conference at the San Jose Police Department, Debbie and Mark used the cameras and reporters crowded around them to plead  with their children.

    "We mainly want to let our children know that we love them," Debbie Baskin said.

    Mark Baskin showed a picture of his two younger sons and read messages each had written for their long-lost brother and sister to hear.

    Bobby and Christi's brother Michael, who was 5 years old when the two were kidnapped, sent with his parents a Spiderman figure Bobby had given  him when the two were children.

    "It helped me remember you," Michael's message read. "I hope you will be able to see me."

    An investigation into the kidnapping case will continue in Tennessee, and investigators were wary of giving too many details about the  case in fear of tainting a possible trial.

    If convicted of the felony charges he faces, Maple would be sentenced according to 1989 guidelines, Goodwin said.