After 20 years apart, Debra Murphy and her brother, Howard Bingham, have found two of the brothers they searched so long to find.

Recently, Murphy came to Blackfoot in search of two brothers who had been adopted by a Blackfoot family about 20 years ago.What the state could not or would not do, a front page newspaper article helped Murphy and Bingham accomplish by bringing some of their natural family back together again.

Their natural family went by the last name of Ketchum, and they came from an alcoholic home. Murphy, Bingham, three of their brothers and a sister lived in foster homes for a few years before they were adopted from Sandpoint. The family was separated in 1969.

Out of seven children in the Ketchum family, including five boys and two girls, six were adopted by LDS families.

One of the brothers, Robert, died when he was 20. Robert had a rare disease and was under the state of Idaho's care at the Idaho State School and Hospital, Nampa, when he died. He was never adopted.

Debra and Howard were adopted by the same family in Rigby. Debra, 31, left Rigby in 1977 and now lives in Albany, Ore. Howard, 32, has lived in the Rigby-Idaho Falls area since he was adopted. He now lives in Idaho Falls.

Wayne and brother Leslie were adopted by Ray and Phyllis Pearson, former Blackfoot residents now living in Sunrise, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. Wayne Pearson, 28, is a truck driver for D&D Trucking in Blackfoot. Leslie Pearson, 29, lives in Florida with his adopted parents.

Now that Debra and Howard have located Wayne and Leslie, they are trying to arrange a face-to-face reunion with Leslie, and they are still searching for a brother, Thomas Allen, born May 8, 1964, and a sister, Janice Marie, born Jan. 27, 1966, who may be in the Payette area.

Debra was the instigator of the search, according to Howard. She's been looking for her siblings for the past five years.

Wayne said he had also been looking for his brothers and sisters, "but not nearly as hard as Debra was."

When Debra, Wayne and Howard finally got together at the home of Delrey Pearson, Wayne's stepbrother, in Blackfoot for a private reunion, the emotions were intense as Debra talked to Leslie on the telephone.

"It seemed like a part of my past had been unburied," Wayne said. "It released a lot of anger from me. It helped in finding out who I am. Up until now, I didn't know what race I was or anything."