MOUNT VERNON, GA (WTOC) - Neighbors and co-workers of a Vidalia couple still can't believe the whirlwind of national news.
Mark and Debbie Baskin found out this week their oldest two children had been located after being kidnapped by Debbie's parents 20 years ago. Her father, Marvin Maple, was in court Thursday for kidnapping his two grandchildren, then 8-year-old Christi Baskin and 7-year-old Bobby. Maple's wife died several years ago.
Back in 1989, Maple and his wife were involved in a bitter custody battle with the Baskins. They accused the parents of sexual abuse. It all happened when the Baskins lived in Tennessee. Three years ago, the couple moved to Vidalia and Mark teaches band at Montgomery County High.
In Mount Vernon, band students drew posters to welcome teacher Mark Baskin home. Many were stunned when they found out he and his wife had rushed cross country this week to meet a son and daughter kidnapped 20 years ago.
"At first I didn't believe it because, come one, it's Mr. Baskins," Jackie Kucera, an 11th grade band member said with a laugh.
Since arriving in Mount Vernon three years ago, few people knew the Baskins' struggle to find children kidnapped by grandparents so long ago.
"I guess you learn how to exist with that and he didn't ever discuss it with me and I don't know that he discussed it a whole lot with anybody," confided principal Luke Smith.
Smith said the movie-like developments have amazed many.
"I can't imagine anybody doing any better than he has with this. He's a super guy," he added.
Principal Smith said Baskin's original plan was to return from California over the weekend and be at school on Monday. But he almost expects a call before then asking for more time. He said he can't imagine anyone that would blame him.
"Even if he took the rest of the year off", senior Kaci Rudd began. "I hope he wouldn't but even if he did."
And what would students tell the grown children who may know nothing about their parents?
"Listen to what they have to say. Your grandparents may have said things but that doesn't make them true. Give them a chance," Kucera pled.
The students say they may never look at their band teacher the same way again.