Longform

"I WAS JUNE CLEAVER"

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Although he didn't know their names, Dan recognized both men. They'd visited him in the elegant Arcadia district of Scottsdale several days before, feigning interest in buying his house. He was suspicious then, Dan says, because Vlasic's cheap clothes were "triple polyester, enough to cause cancer."

But now, as they pointed guns at him, Dan realized the polyester duo had been checking him out. When he recognized them, he says, they looked terrified. "I knew I was dealing with Heckle and Jeckle," he says. "These guys were nothing. They were amateurs. They would never shoot me." In the scuffle that ensued, Dan knocked Beaux Marks into a cholla cactus. Eventually, however, they subdued him. His legs and hands were cuffed and he was pushed into the back seat of a rented Eagle Premier. A third man drove Dan's Cadillac to an airport parking lot, wiped all the fingerprints off the car and abandoned it with the keys locked inside.

Dan talked the whole way to Mexico, Marks later told police, alternately offering the two men money to let him go and threatening them by saying he'd killed a man before and they were making a big mistake. It was a long ride. Dan denies saying he'd killed a man. "Do you think I am crazy?" he asks. But he admits trying to buy "Heckle and Jeckle" over to his side. When he got too obnoxious, he said, they threatened to subdue him with a stun gun. Just before they reached the Mexican border, according to police, Marks stopped in the desert and hid the .357 Magnum they'd taken from Dan. They also hid their own guns.

When they reached Nogales,the kidnapers handed Dan and the Mexican warrant over to the federales, who were expecting him. Later, Marks would admit to police he'd been paid by Betty Faull to deliver Dan to the Mexican authorities.

That is the reason Betty Faull, Elan Rivera, Beaux Marks, and Chris Vlasic were charged in United States District Court in Phoenix in October with conspiracy to kidnap Dan and Justin, kidnaping and being accessories after the fact. Dan knew at the time of the abduction who was behind it. He bumped into Elan in the Nogales police station where he was being booked by the federales.

DAN'S FAMILY BAILED HIM out a few days later. Back in Scottsdale, he made a promise he would later regret bitterly. He promised his lawyer Victoria Kjos he'd "work within the system." He would not try to snatch Justin back by storming down to Mexico with his piece and several armed cousins. But such restraint hasn't done him a damn bit of good, he says. If he had taken matters in his own hands, he could have retrieved Justin within days. Now, more than a year has gone by, Justin has turned four and no one knows where he and his mother are hiding out. "What is going through his little head?" Dan says. "I ask myself that every day."

Looking at Dan, it's hard to place him squarely on the side of law and order. "My family was involved in organized crime," he says, although he denies a connection of his own. His great-uncle rode with Pancho Villa and owned bordellos in Bisbee. A cousin is serving time for murder. His father sold real estate in Scottsdale and was a friend of the late land swindler Ned Warren, whom Dan still defends. When Dan was a kid, his family moved from the Golden Gate barrio of South Phoenix to a $10,500 red-brick Hallcraft home near a cotton field in Scottsdale. His mother, who still lives with him today, is an x-ray therapist. Scottsdale was not a terrific place for a Hispanic kid in the early Sixties. "We were probably the only Hispanic family in the whole area," he says. "My parents would go to PTA meetings and hear all these wonderful, bright Caucasians discuss how to keep the Mexicans and Indians out of the school."

Dan went to three high schools before he finally graduated from Scottsdale High. He says he was far more interested in helping his dad in real estate and working in his own shop, Coachcraft Custom Detail. He and his friends detailed cars.

Unfortunately, he became interested in other business ventures. Like giving money to drug dealers to invest in heroin. "You could double your money in a week," he says, with characteristic candor.

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Terry Greene