Longform

"I WAS JUNE CLEAVER"

Page 5 of 7

One of Dan's favorite photographs, the one that sits on his living room mantle, is of Justin and Dan dressed in matching tuxedos for a performance.

A few days after Dan brought Justin back to Scottsdale in March 1989, Betty Faull was asked in a deposition what, exactly, she knew about the three child-snatchings of Justin Rivera. She took the Fifth Amendment 71 times.

Four months later, the cops say, she masterminded and paid for Dan Rivera's abduction to Mexico.

SCOTTSDALE POLICE DETECTIVE Tom Van Meter handled Dan's case. His investigation was swift and immediate. He found Dan's black Cadillac in the airport parking lot. He found Dan's .357 Magnum in Faull's garage. He found phone bills linking Faull and the abductors with Elan. He got Vlasic to describe the fight in the driveway, admit taking Dan to Mexico and implicate his partner Beaux Marks. He also got Vlasic and Marks to admit they'd seen Betty Faull with Elan and Justin in Nogales when they delivered Dan to the federales.

He got Beaux Marks to admit he knew the Mexican warrant Faull had told him to serve on Dan was no good in the United States. He also got Marks to admit that yet another local private investigator named Carol Curtis was hired by Faull, and that Curtis warned Marks to lie about the abduction. And he got Marks to admit that he served as a postkidnaping bodyguard, protecting Elan, Justin, and Betty Faull as they traveled with Carol Curtis from Mexico to British Columbia.

Van Meter discovered that Faull had paid $20,000 to Ed Maciag, another local private eye. He discovered Maciag had hired Marks for $10,000 to do the dirty work.

But when Van Meter interviewed Betty Faull on July 31, 1989, she denied knowledge of the kidnaping. She said Dan had tried to kill Elan. She said she didn't know where her daughter was. Or her grandchild.

"This is embarrassing, but I've been having some trouble with diarrhea, I'm going to have to get off the phone here," she told Van Meter. She promised to call back the next day. She has not talked to the detective since.

DAN IS NOT COMFORTED by the fact that Chris Vlasic and Beaux Marks were arrested by federal authorities late last month. Nor is he cheered that Faull turned herself in a few days later. What he wants is to have his son back, and Elan, also charged in the kidnaping, is still hiding out in Mexico. The three accused criminals pleaded innocent to charges of conspiracy to commit kidnaping, kidnaping and accessory after the fact. Vlasic was released on his own recognizance. Marks posted $25,000 bail and was released after a night in jail. Betty Faull was released after posting $80,000 bail, and spent no time in jail. Maciag was not charged with any crimes, and is believed to be cooperating with the prosecution. Maciag, Curtis, and Marks did not return repeated telephone calls. Vlasic and Faull refused comment.

"They should have put her in chains," Dan says of Betty Faull. "You can bet that it would have taken about four seconds for the cops to arrest me if I attacked Betty Faull with a baseball bat, cuffed her hands and legs and took her down to Mexico."

What bothers him is that he still doesn't have his son. What bothers him is that he resisted his instinct to settle things privately and instead cooperated with the law, only to have the law drag on for what to Dan has seemed an eternity.

Van Meter, for instance, completed his investigation a short six weeks after the kidnaping and handed the report over to assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Connelly, assigned to prosecute the case. Connelly let the report sit on his desk for nearly a year. He said he was working on the case behind the scenes, trying to negotiate a "deal" to return Justin back to Dan. But perhaps Connelly had more pressing "deals" to work out: He resigned unexpectedly from the U.S. Attorney's Office this summer shortly before his part in a federal contracting scandal became public.

Dan's hopes revived when his case was turned over to assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Husk in late summer. "He's Hispanic," Dan says happily. "He speaks to me in Spanish! Can you imagine my relief after this person Connelly?"

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Terry Greene