Custody fight crosses ocean; Balto. County seeks man accused of taking girls from Netherlands


Monique Fasel says that when her two daughters left their home in the Netherlands last month, her estranged husband told her he was taking the girls on a vacation to the theater in London, Legoland in Denmark and to camp out in Finland.

But Christopher Yavelow didn't say he also was taking them on a boat to the United States, in apparent violation of a Dutch custody order requiring him to bring the girls home two weeks ago.

Yesterday, a warrant for the husband's arrest on charges of parental child abduction was issued in Baltimore County, where he and the girls, Celina Yavelow, 13, and Stephanie Yavelow, 10, were seen last week in the Towson area.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge John O. Hennegan also signed an order honoring the Dutch court order granting Fasel custody -- paving the legal way for her daughters' return and her husband's arrest.

Fasel appeared yesterday in the Baltimore County courthouse, looking tired and often breaking down in tears as she told the story of her daughters' disappearance.

She said she believes they left Europe aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 during the last week in August, at about the time they called to say they were eating clotted cream in Plymouth, a port on the southwest coast of England.

Fasel's husband, a composer, was seen last week by his parents in Baltimore County, according to Fasel and her Towson lawyer, Susan Elgin.

A private detective Fasel hired also saw Yavelow's rental car at the home of a friend east of Towson, Elgin said.

Unusual situation

Howard Merker, deputy state's attorney, said he doesn't recall Baltimore County courts or prosecutors ever being asked to enforce a custody order from a foreign country, but said, "it would carry the same force as a Baltimore County order."

He said his office also has agreed to pay to extradite Yavelow to Maryland if he is found out of state.

Yesterday, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Cpl. Vickie Warehime said detectives were hunting down leads and attempting to locate Yavelow.

Relative acknowledges visit

Yavelow's father, Lincoln Johnson, acknowledged that he saw his son and granddaughters in recent days and described them in "excellent" health.

When asked where his son went after last week's visit, Johnson, a retired Goucher College art history professor and former Sun art critic, said, "I have no idea. He has many acquaintances in many places."

Yesterday, Fasel got police to list her husband's and daughters' names on the National Crime Index Computer and distributed fliers with the girls' photos and their father's name at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Yavelow, 49, grew up in Towson and is a Harvard-educated composer with an expertise in creating music from computers. He is the author of "MacWorld Music and Sound Bible," a book about composing computer music.

He lives in Zandvoort, Netherlands. He and his wife separated there in January after 17 years of marriage, said Fasel, who is a librarian at the University of Amsterdam.

Fasel said that since Yavelow came to this country with his daughters, she has spoken with the girls three times when they called her. She said they sounded well, but confused as to their whereabouts and their future.

Fasel said she received an e-mail from Yavelow on Thursday in which he wrote, "I want you to know that our children are safe and fine. You have nothing to worry about."

According to Fasel, he indicated that he left the Netherlands to fight for custody of their children and added, "We are not receiving justice in the Netherlands. The laws of the Netherlands are primitive."

In Baltimore County, Hennegan's order gives Yavelow 48 hours to appear at a hearing after the children are returned to their mother.

Pub Date: 9/14/99

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