From the archives
A man who authorities say abducted two of his grandchildren from Tennessee almost 20 years ago was arrested Monday night in San Jose and the children have been found.
Investigators were tipped off to the whereabouts of Marvin L. Maple, 72, after he read a San Diego Union-Tribune story online about the search for him, said cold case Detective Lt. Bill Sharp of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
The article angered Maple, and he talked about the kidnapping to a friend while they were drinking at a bar, Sharp said.
That friend told a woman who also knew Maple, and authorities were contacted.
“Within two hours of talking with her, San Jose police had Maple in handcuffs,” said Rutherford County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Goodwin.
Maple was taken into custody at his home. The grandchildren, Christi and Bobby Baskin, now 28 and 27 years old respectively, were also located in San Jose, Sharp said.
Maple is being held without bail, Goodwin said.
Maple and his wife, Sandra, disappeared with the children on March 1, 1989, the day they were ordered to return them to their parents. They had been granted temporary custody of their grandchildren after they accused the parents of physically and sexually abusing the children.
Authorities investigating the allegations found several inconsistencies in the children’s and grandparents’ stories. The grandparents’ allegations became more bizarre and included talk of satanic worship and cults, and their list of alleged perpetrators grew to include social workers, attorneys and mental health officials, Sharp said.
After a lengthy investigation, no evidence was found to support the claims.
Mark and Debbie Baskin, who now live in Vidalia, Ga., where he is a minister and a school teacher, never saw their children – or Debbie Baskin’s parents – again.
Police had several sightings of the Maples and the Baskins over the years, mostly in California. It is believed that at one time the family lived in San Diego, Sharp said.
While on the lam, Maple went by the name John Bunting and the Baskin children were known as Jennifer and Jonathan Bunting, Sharp said. Christi Baskin told police that Maple’s wife died about two years ago, Sharp said.
Sharp and Goodwin, who have been working on the case for more than a year, traveled to San Jose on Tuesday night to interview Maple and his grandchildren.
They hope to return to Murfreesboro, Tenn., with Maple, but have to wait to see if he will fight extradition.
The officers took up the cold case because the unsolved disappearance of the children resonated within the department.
“As a parent, I could think of nothing worse than losing a child,” Sharp said.
Mark Baskin said he and his wife and family were overwhelmed that what they had been hoping and praying for for two decades finally came true.
The couple have two younger children – Michael, 25, and Paul, 16, who is adopted.
Mark Baskin said he saw pictures of his now-adult children and he thinks they are beautiful. “She looks like a movie star and he is as handsome as it gets,” he said.
Still, they don’t know when a reunion will happen and are apprehensive about seeing them.
“They have been totally brainwashed for 20 years, and it will take a while to erase that,” Baskin said. “We don’t know if they will even recognize us as their parents.”
Sharp said Christi Baskin was understandably reluctant to believe that the man she knows only as “Daddy” is facing criminal charges.
“We hope they can believe the truth. That’s weighing on us right now,” Baskin said.