Parents hope to reunite with kidnapped kids

February 6, 2009 5:25:20 PM PST
The parents in a 20-year-old kidnapping case made an emotional plea Friday to their children now living in San Jose. They desperately want to be a family again and they're hoping their children will meet with them.

When the grandparents took the Baskin children in 1989, they were only seven and eight years old. Their real parents are afraid they've been told numerous lies over the years about abuse and neglect which investigators say simply aren't true.

Click here to watch the raw video of the Baskins speaking at the police press conference.

Mark and Debbie Baskin came to the news conference holding hands, with family photos of happier times and letters of love from a little boy who was just five when his brother and sister disappeared.

"I also hope that you will be willing to see me. I want to talk to you and see you so badly. I love you brother."

Christi and Bobby Baskin were taken from their Tennessee home in 1989 and lived a secret life in San Jose with their grandparents growing up as Jennifer and Jonathan Bunting.

Jennifer was still living with her grandfather in a San Jose townhouse when he was arrested on Monday. Police say Marvin Maple was flown back to Tennessee Friday to face felony charges, and Jennifer is distraught.

"When we spoke to her on the phone, I think it's safe to say she's very upset. This is an emotional bomb in her life. All of a sudden the man who she calls her father has been arrested for something that happened so long ago," said Sgt. Dan Goodwin with the Tennessee cold case unit.

The Baskins learned their children were alive after an anonymous tip alerted police there may be a local connection to the 20-year-old kidnapping case.

"That person is a hero in this case. That person was the missing link that put two and two together and was willing to come forward and had the courage to do that," said San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis.

Now, a mother and father are hoping their grown children take the next step and make the family whole again.

"What we want to say to Christi and Bobby is that this is the missing piece, and this is the puzzle. This is your family. This is a picture from your grandmother's 75th birthday party that you weren't there. These are your aunts, these are your uncles, these are your cousins. And we are all praying that you will want to talk to us. We hope you are well. We prayed for you for 20 years and we're not going to give up now," said mother Debbie Baskin.

The Baskins spoke for nearly seven minutes at the news conference, and just in case Jennifer and Jonathan see this story, we are streaming their parents' entire plea here.

For more on this story, including the police's theory on how Maple managed to elude police for so long, read The Back Story.