Dr. Federico G. Arthes, a retired internist and the father of a boy who was abducted in a notorious kidnapping case in 1976, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at Phoebe Berks Skilled Nursing Home in Wernersville, Pa. The former Eastern Shore resident was 77.
Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, he earned a medical degree from San Carlos University there. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Emory University in Atlanta for a fellowship in preventative medicine. He later received a master's degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University, where he was trained as an epidemiologist.
Dr. Arthes was a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1966 to 1978, at which time he resided near Towson High School. He was a staff member of the university health service and instructor in the departments of medicine and epidemiology.
Dr. Arthes was the subject of numerous newspaper articles after the March 1976 abduction of his 10-year-old son, Guillermo Federico Arthes, who was known as Billy.
Police rescued the child after a woman living in Virginia, Jeanne Brandimarte, alerted Baltimore County police officials after she saw the abductor's photo on a Baltimore television news broadcast she happened to be watching.
The kidnapper, Arthur F. Goode, was executed in Florida in 1984 for the abduction and murder of a 9-year-old boy from that state. Goode also had killed an 11-year-old boy from Tysons Corner, Va. The Arthes kidnapping case was never tried.
When Dr. Arthes and his son were reunited after a major police investigation, newspaper accounts detailed how Dr. Arthes hugged Capt. Raymond Donovan, a Baltimore County police official who had searched for his son.
Dr. Arthes was quoted as saying, "God bless you, God bless you."
The Evening Sun article went on to report, "And Captain Donovan cried."
"He was a genuine man who had little time and patience for pretense," said son-in-law Richard Wierzbicki of Austin, Texas. "Being true to his nature, he wore his emotions on his sleeve."
A year later, newspaper stories detailed how Dr. Arthes initiated his own study with the help of the Hopkins child psychiatry department and several Baltimore County agencies. He spoke to medical professionals at the Maryland Children's Aid and Family Services Society on the need for professional methods of dealing with issues in crimes related to children.
"It is my way of paying off my debt to society," he told a reporter at that speech. "I came out of this a winner. I got my child back in one piece. The least I can do is help some other people."
Dr. Arthes later served as a colonel in the Air Force. He left Baltimore and set up a family medical practice in Berlin in Worcester County in 1981. He retired there in 2002.
"My father was a compassionate man. His interest in medicine was always to help other people," said daughter Cynthia Wierzbicki of Austin.
Dr. Arthes was also medical director for Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Wicomico Nursing Home in Salisbury.
In 2002, he moved to Wyomissing, Pa.
He was an honorary life member and former officer of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. He was a world traveler and enjoyed classical music.
Services were held yesterday in West Reading, Pa.
In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife of 14 years, the former Mary Dillon; another daughter, Annina M. Griggs of Lutherville; two stepsons, Michael G. DeAntonio of Fleetwood, Pa., and James M. DeAntonio of West Reading, Pa.; two stepdaughters, Diana L. Frick of Cambridge and Colleen M. Schmura of Mohnton, Pa.; and 17 grandchildren.