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Boston Globe - 04/24/98

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Lisa Martin said the family is holding up well. "It's difficult but we're fine", she said.

Last night, the family returned to the home of relatives in Framingham. Fagan's lawyer, Richard Egbert, said his client is expected to return to Palm Beach soon.

Nearby, the sisters' cousin spoke publicity for the first time, recalling family weddings and childhood romps she once shared with the girls before the disappearance.

Elizabeth – who was 6 when her cousins vanished and who asked that her last name not be used - said she still thumbs through family photo albums in which they are "just so delighted, and smiling".

Now, her cousins seem determined to distance themselves from family, and it "seems like the perception is 'us against them,'" she said.

"Our only wish is that they get to know their mother, " said Elizabeth, who is Barbara Kurth's niece. "It's natural for them to stand by their father. Their whole world has been turned upside down.

"Fagan took his young daughters on a weekend visitation and never returned. Since his arrest, he has said he fled with the children, then 2 and 5, to protect them from Kurth, who said was an unfit mother with a drinking problem.

Kurth, 48, has said she suffered from narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder that caused her to pass out. Relatives and court records confirm she was admitted by a psychiatrist to the Leonard Morse Hospital in 1977.

Peter Kurth, her brother, said she was admitted for an addiction to amphetamines prescribed to treat her sleep disorder.

"My impression at the time was she needed, and got, a nice break from the situation with Stephen, as well," he said.

Court papers from the divorce and custody fights reveal how unstable their relationship was.

In August 1978, after Kurth has obtained custody of the girls, Fagan apparently took the battle into his own hands, records show. He obtained a temporary court order. Then he and Barbara Moore, his girlfriend, staked out his ex-wife's home near North Adams home, according to a deposition by Moore.

Fagan and Moore watched and waited as Kurth pushed a baby stroller down the sidewalk, Moore said. Then Fagan approached Kurth.

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