Longform

Family Secrets

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Later, Ken Winsberg wrote to a judge that Sally didn't know a Jerry Hall, and "for all she knows [she] could be the former girlfriend of Mick Jagger."

A sheath of court documents indicates that Danny had been paying Sally's rent at a Phoenix apartment for months, and Sally later testified that he'd moved her over there long before filing for divorce.

Sally never responded to the petition, she said later, because she hadn't known about it. Certainly, she didn't know that Danny was about to take control of about every community asset they'd ever owned as a couple.

Danny filed for a default decree soon after Sally missed the deadline to respond to his original petition. He wrote on the application that he'd hand-deliver the default notice to Sally at an address on East Fillmore Street.

It was the same address that he and Sally had moved from a decade earlier, part of the Carbajals' Fillmore compound.

"And who lived at Fillmore at that time?" Ken Winsberg asked Danny last November.

"No one," Danny admitted.

"So the address you used was the place on Fillmore where you knew nobody was living?"

"Yes."

In late September 2003, Danny and a woman again asked a teller at the BankOne on East Thomas Road for assistance.

"Danny walked up, and he wanted to remove his wife from his checking account," teller Burdia Center said later in a deposition. "I asked Danny how was he doing because I knew him from being Danny Carbajal, and he said fine. And I asked his wife, does she have an ID? She presented her ID."

Center said Danny's wife surprised him "because he's an older-looking guy, and she was a young-looking lady. . . . And what went through my mind was that she's very pretty to be with him."

During that deposition, Winsberg showed her photographs of Sally and Josephine Carbajal, just as he had to the earlier teller.

Center immediately pointed to Josephine as the "young-looking" woman who had signed Sally's name to the checking account removal form.

In her deposition, also last November, 35-year-old Josephine Carbajal swore that she'd never signed her mother's name to anything, at the bank or anyplace else.

But on October 3, 2003 -- a week after her alleged encounter at the bank with Burdia Center -- Josephine applied at a state Motor Vehicles office for an identification card as her mother.

The best evidence of that is a photograph that agency officials took that day of her, next to which police suspect she forged Sally's name.

Josephine tried to explain it away in her deposition, saying, "My mom told me there was some confusion at Motor Vehicle Division. And she told me she'd take care of it. She said that's a common mistake. They make mistakes between us and my sister, too."

On December 5, 2003, a county court commissioner signed Danny Carbajal's default decree against Sally. Danny asked the court to send a copy to her at his condo, where he knew she wouldn't get it.

That December 9, just four days after the divorce was final, someone claiming to be Sally Carbajal signed away her rights to the six Phoenix properties that the split-up couple still owned.

That day, BankOne teller Maria Sanchez affixed her notary stamp to the quitclaim deeds that Danny supposedly had drawn up back in 1999, but hadn't mentioned as community property in his divorce petition.

Sanchez subsequently left BankOne, and lawyers couldn't locate her for a deposition in the Carbajal divorce case.

She continued to lie low even after Sally filed a complaint against her with the Arizona Secretary of State. Sally claimed that Sanchez knew that the deeds were forgeries, and that the ex-teller knew Danny personally.

The Secretary of State revoked Sanchez's notary license last November, after she failed to respond to Sally's complaint.


During the first months of 2004, Sally Carbajal was newly divorced. And though she still didnt know it, most of her marital assets were gone.

But there was a ray of hope in her life.

Sally had started to date a guy in his early 50s named Gerry Best, a cabby who usually worked the central Phoenix area. He'd met Sally as a fare, as she often called for a taxi because she'd lost her driver's license.

"Decent guy," Sally's friend Tammy Brant said of Best. "Treated her real good, real good, and made her feel better about herself."

Sally and Gerry moved in together, and remained a couple until someone murdered them earlier this year.

On February 25, 2004, Sally filed for divorce from Danny in Maricopa County Superior Court. Like Danny, she filled out the paperwork by herself.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin