Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

What to Do If Your Spouse “Snatches” Your Child

She returned to her church nursery at a little past noon, as she did every Sunday, to pick up her little boy. However, the look on the attendant’s face told her immediately that something was wrong.


“But, your husband came in just after you dropped him off (4 hours earlier) and picked your boy up, I assumed it was okay”, she said pleadingly.


Rather than being okay, it was a mother’s worst nightmare. And, it was mine. My 2-year old had been spirited away by a husband who, just two days earlier, had telephoned to say that business would keep him out of town through the entire weekend.


It was November 17, 1985. Things had not been going well for us as a couple for months and “X” was away on business most of time. But, returning unannounced and snatching Frank portended of something much worse than just a bumpy marriage.


I went straight to the parish office, not for comfort, but because it was the most immediate place I could go for the resources I would need. I suspected that X intended to take Frank to California, where X often traveled, had several friends and, as I would learn later, one intimate acquaintance.


Ed Salmon, then our rector at St. Michael’s and St George’s Episcopal Church, grasped the situation immediately. We had to learn the flight X planned to take, either to prevent him from boarding…but with a 4 hour jump that seemed unlikely…or to be sure we could have someone keep track of him when he landed.


Ed remembered that the mayor of Clayton, then Hugh Scott, had been at church that day. We were able to locate him just as he was leaving. In no time, the mayor directed the Clayton Police to obtain the needed flight information. In less than an hour, we learned that X and Frank were already in the air on a flight bound for Los Angeles.


Now we had to find someone to be there when the flight arrived to keep tabs on X and Frank while we completed the necessary legal steps to get Frank back in my care. X would have to be trailed surreptitiously and likely over a period of days.


I selected Mark McClaine from the Los Angeles Yellow Pages private investigator section because his advertisement said he specialized in white collar crime. I assumed this meant he was more sophisticated than the average gumshoe, and I was surprised to find him in his office on Sunday morning (L.A. time) when I called.


Armed only with a mother’s desperation, a flight number and a physical description of X and Frank, Mr. McClaine dispatched himself to LAX, one of the world’s busiest airports in search of a man with a little boy. Since it was before 9/11, anyone could go straight to an arrival gate, and McClaine was right there when X and Frank walked off the plane.


Miraculously, he trailed the two as they made their way through baggage claim, the rental car station and then the maze of LA’s freeways until X and Frank arrived at a Malibu apartment that McClain later told me was rented by a single female who would ultimately become X’s second wife.


And it’s there that Mr. McClaine would have to wait, keeping track of X and Frank, until I could get my legal ducks in order and myself out to Los Angeles.


Next week, I will share with you what it took to get back my son and how a Missouri parental kidnapping law passed since then might have affected my case.