REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) – A California man accused of kidnapping his two children and taking them on a stolen yacht for three days said Tuesday that he knew he had “gone crazy” but never endangered them.
During a jailhouse interview, Christopher Maffei told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/U7SgGh) that he stole a 41-foot sailing yacht from an Alameda marina on Sept. 4, but as he passed the Golden Gate Bridge, he began to have some doubts about taking his kids without a set destination.
“I felt I needed to go back,” Maffei said. “I knew I’d gone crazy by stealing the boat, but not about taking my kids.”
The 43-year-old Maffei is accused of forcibly taking his 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son from their grandmother while the children’s mother was seeking a restraining order against him.
He surrendered after authorities caught up with him sailing near Monterey and towed him back to shore on Sept 7. Maffei told the newspaper that his children were never in danger while on the boat, stating that they had a grand time.
“They were safe, they were warm,” Maffei said.
On Monday, Maffei told a San Mateo County judge that he was trying to protect his kids from an abusive home. He faces numerous charges, including kidnapping, child endangerment and parental abduction.
He has not entered a plea and is due back in court on Sept. 17. During his jail interview Tuesday, Maffei reiterated he felt that his children were not safe at their mother’s home.
“I don’t care what happens to me – could you write that down?” Maffei said. “I don’t care what happens to me, I care about what happens to my children.”
Their mother, Jennifer Hipon, 37, has said Maffei’s claims are unfounded and noted that he has never reported his allegations to authorities.
After Maffei ran off with the children, Hipon went to court and was granted a temporary restraining order and a court order with full custody and no visitation rights for Maffei.
A hearing on the restraining order against Maffei is scheduled for Sept. 21.