Behind most men -- including those touched by scandal -- there's a loyal woman, and for a while it appeared as if the woman behind arms merchant Frank Terpil was going to be left out in the cold. Terpil's girlfriend, Ruth Boyd, stayed behind in Terpil's luxurious Japanese-style home in McLean after Terpil left Washington two months ago. He apparently fled the country to avoid a New York trial on charges of illegally selling 10,000 machine guns to undercover agents. After that trial, Terpil was to be tried in Washington on charges of conspiracy in connection with the operation of a secret training school for terrorists in Libya.

For about a week Boyd told friends she was worried about Terpil. Then, in late September, she quit her job behind the perfume counter at Bloomingdale's at Tysons Corner and told friends she was flying to Amsterdam en route to a rendezvous with Terpil. Meanwhile, Terpil left behind a host of legal problems, including an IRS demand for $3 million in taxes, interest and penalties for allegedly failing to pay adequate income tax three years ago. He also "more or less left a whole bunch of attorneys flat," said his New York lawyer, Paul Bergman.

Where's the mystery man? Last definitive word came from his 20-year-old son, Keith, who testified in a New York court that his father called him last month, probably from Libya, to say, "If they want me, they're going to have to go through Qaddafi to get me."