Authorities track man, daughters in moves across U.S.

September 28, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Since a warrant was issued for the arrest of Christopher Yavelow two weeks ago on charges of abducting his children in violation of a Dutch custody order, police have tracked the Harvard-educated composer through five states but have yet to catch up with him.

In hopes that publicity will help police and the FBI locate him, Baltimore County police revealed yesterday the first news of Yavelow's whereabouts since he was seen in the Towson and Timonium areas visiting his parents and a friend three weeks ago.

Detective Janet Ensor said that since leaving Baltimore County, Yavelow and his daughters, Celina Yavelow, 13, and Stephanie Yavelow, 10, have traveled through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Florida and Alabama.

He also has called a lawyer in Idaho, seeking legal advice. Police say he was last tracked to the Gulf Coast area of Alabama.

"Our main concern is the return of the children," Ensor said. "That's the No. 1 priority. If he wants to leave the children in a safe place, we can deal with the warrant at another time."

She said no one has heard from the children since their mother, Monique Fasel, listened to their voices on her answering machine in the Netherlands on Sept. 9.

Fasel, who lives near Amsterdam, traveled to the United States and has been trying to track down her husband with the help of a private detective, county police, the FBI and private lawyers.

A man claiming to be Yavelow called a reporter late last night from an unknown location and said the children are safe.

"They want to be with me," he said. "They are American citizens, they want to go to American schools and have American friends. They do not want to be with their mother."

He said the police and FBI manhunt "is based on false documents."

Fasel, who has legal custody of her daughters from a Dutch court, said her husband took them on a court-approved vacation in August but failed to return them at the end of the month.

Police believe that Yavelow took the girls from England to Maine on the Queen Elizabeth II, then to Boston and to Baltimore County.

A county Circuit Court judge signed an order Sept. 13 honoring the Dutch custody order.

In addition to a warrant for Yavelow's arrest from Baltimore County, the FBI has issued a federal warrant charging him with parental child abduction.

Yesterday, Fasel said she is worried for her daughters' safety but said "I cannot fathom" that her estranged husband would hurt them.

She said she is worried that her husband will continue to elude police and the FBI.

"What I'm afraid of is, if this doesn't work, then nothing will work," she said.

Yavelow's mother, Laura Burggraf, 83, said yesterday from her Timonium home that she last spoke with her son Thursday when he called from an unidentified place. "He sounded fine," Burggraf said. "He's a born-again Christian lately. He likes to be with church people, and he and the children had gone to church on Sunday, and these people had been very nice to him and found him a nice place to stay."

The warrants for his arrest scare him, Burggraf said.

Yavelow, 49, grew up in Towson and wrote "Macworld Music and Sound Bible," a book about composing computer music.

His residence is in the Netherlands in the same town outside Amsterdam as his estranged wife, a librarian at the University of Amsterdam, and their daughters. Fasel said they separated in January after 17 years of marriage.

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