Longform

"I WAS JUNE CLEAVER"

Page 6 of 7

Husk presented the Rivera kidnaping to a federal grand jury in October. The jury handed down the indictment that led to the arrest of Marks, Vlasic, and Faull.

The indictment spells out Van Meter's investigation, detailing how Faull engineered and paid for the kidnaping. The indictment also says that Faull wanted drugs planted on Dan prior to his being turned over to the Mexican authorities.

HAD DAN ATTENDED Betty Faull's arraignment in his usual flashy clothes and gold jewelry, he would have contrasted sharply with her friends from Scottsdale, mostly retirees in their sixties.

Three suntanned, style-conscious women arrived early and sat in the front row, each wearing costume-jewelry earrings to match her bright outfit. One woman in pink stared and stared at the chemically frizzed hair of a court clerk. "I can't imagine any white woman wanting to wear her hair like that, I think it's so ugly," she whispered to her friends.

Then Betty Faull walked in the courtroom with her lawyer Mel McDonald. Even with her face puffy from crying, she was pretty, and looked younger than her 59 years. She wore a proper black suit and a blue silk blouse.

Faull hugged her three friends in the front row, alternately trying to look brave and weeping uncontrollably. It was the first time Betty Faull had ever been accused of a crime. When the magistrate told her she might go to prison for life if convicted, and might have to pay $750,000 in restitution, she sobbed inconsolably and shook so hard she had to lean on McDonald. Her friends were eager to defend her.

Dick Zeman said, "I've known Betty for years and years. She's done just what any grandmother would do. She's a wonderful person. And it was terrible the way that man beat her daughter."

Betty Hayes has known Faull since 1972. "She always thinks of everybody else," she said. "She took care of her husband. He didn't want to go to a nursing home, so she took care of him. He didn't want her to have a maid, so she cleaned the house herself." Another friend said Faull was frightened for Justin because the toddler had learned how to "sniff from a straw" and because Dan had Uzis lying around the house. "What kind of an environment is that?" Her lawyer Mel McDonald said Faull is innocent. "She is one of the most loving, caring people that anyone could ever know," he said.

The lawyer is upset with prosecutor Husk, who refused to meet with him before going to the grand jury. McDonald claimed he had evidence that would exonerate Faull. "They indicted her without knowing the full story," McDonald said. Gary Husk retorted, "The government doesn't make a practice of negotiating when a child has been missing for over a year."

Husk has no pity for Faull. In court he warned the tearful grandmother that if she knew where Elan and Justin were hiding out, she'd be obligated to tell authorities.

Faull, through McDonald, told the court that Elan and Justin were somewhere in Mexico. That is all Faull knows, McDonald said.

DAN RIVERA HAS BEEN TOLD that Faull's trial might not take place for a year. That means he may not see Justin until the boy is five. Or six. Dan spends a lot of time rolling the same questions around his head. Will Faull betray Elan to save her own skin? Will Elan kill herself and Justin rather than turn herself in? Is Justin even alive?

Dan often sits on the circular gray couch in his living room, playing the same cassette over and over. It is a tape he made after the judge gave him custody of Justin.

"So what does your mother say?" Dan asks the boy.
"She says . . . " Justin starts in a weary little voice that trails off until his father asks him the question again. "She says not to love Daddy."

What Dan realizes only too painfully is that Justin is the most defenseless, innocent victim of all. "The most important thing right now is to get him back. The last time he saw me, men were pointing guns at me. What could be going through his mind?"

Dan flicks off the tape player. "I want my son back," he says.

He calls her "the snake from hell" and "the crazy animal." She calls him "a pig who wallowed with pigs."

"Can you imagine what kind of a dog Justin's mother is if the judge took the child away from her and gave him to me?"

Dan reached for his holstered gun, but the lapel of his Armani jacket got in the way.

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Terry Greene