Sisters paint pretty picture of father

BOSTON (AP) — Two young women whose father allegedly kidnapped them from their mother 19 years ago stood by him Monday, portraying him as a loving dad who did what he had to do to protect his daughters.
“I firmly believe what happened with my sister and I some 19 years ago happened for a good reason — my dad wanted us to be safe and to grow up happy, healthy and strong,” Lisa Martin, 21, said at a news conference with her sister, Rachael, 23.
“We’d like to say, Daddy, we love you,'” she said.
Both sisters spoke confidently without losing their composure. They refused to answer any questions.
Neither of the sisters mentioned their mother, Barbara Kurth, with whom they have not been reunited. Over the years, their father had told them their mother had died in a car wreck.
Stephen Fagan, who took the alias Dr. William Martin, has said he took them in 1979 because their mother was neglecting them. Lisa — then called Wendy — was 2; Rachael was 5. The couple had divorced the previous year.
If the situation were to occur today, Lisa said, she would want her father to do the same thing.
Fagan has said his former wife was an alcoholic. Her lawyers said she suffered from narcolepsy, an illness that causes sudden, deep sleep. She has denied neglecting the children.
Ms. Kurth, now 48, is a cellular biologist at the University of Virginia.
Fagan, 56, was arrested April 16 on kidnapping charges. He allegedly took the girls from Massachusetts and began a new life in Florida. His current wife is a prosperous commercial land developer, and Fagan was arrested at the $1.4 million Palm Beach mansion where he lived.
His daughters, however, described a more modest existence: an old car with no radio and no air-conditioning; the early morning wake-ups for swim practice. They spent most of their lives living in a small apartment, Rachael said.
“The media has portrayed my father as everything from a gold digging playboy to a thief. I am here to tell you that is simply not true,” Rachael said.
The sisters portrayed him as their father, their mother and their best friend. Their father cooked their meals, washed their laundry, cheered them at swim meets and chauffeured them to and from school in his 10-year-old orange Datsun, they said.
Fagan is free on $2.5 million bail. He was captured after authorities got a telephone tip on his whereabouts several months ago.
Ms. Kurth declined to comment Monday. But her attorney, Jacob Atwood, said: “They have never heard the other side’ of the story. In time, we all hope that Wendy and Rachael will come to know the truth that has been hidden from them for the past two decades.”