The crime[ edit ] On the evening of Friday, February 1,Danielle van Dam's mother Brenda and two girlfriends went out to a bar, called Dad's, in Poway. Danielle's father, Damon, stayed at home with Danielle and her two brothers. Brenda noticed a light on the home's security alarm system was flashing, and discovered that the side door to the garage was open. Damon and Brenda went to sleep believing that their daughter was sleeping in her room. About an hour damme, Damon awoke and noticed that an alarm light was flashing.
The crime[ edit ] On the evening of Friday, February 1,Danielle van Dam's mother Brenda and two girlfriends went out to a bar, called Dad's, in Poway. Danielle's father, Damon, stayed at home with Danielle and her two brothers. Brenda noticed a light on the home's security alarm system was flashing, and discovered that the side door to the garage was open.
Damon and Brenda went to sleep believing that their daughter was sleeping in wwith room. About an hour later, Damon awoke and noticed that an alarm light was flashing.
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He found the sliding glass door leading to the back yard open, so he closed it. Danielle became the subject of search efforts, with hundreds of volunteers searching deserts, highways and remote areas for weeks.
The Laura Recovery Center assisted in organizing the search, and a Danielle Recovery Center was set up in a real estate office in Poway to coordinate the searching. Some searchers had decided to search the Dehesa Road area, near the trail, after detectives discovered traces of Danielle's blood in David Westerfield's motor home, because Dehesa Road chhat a possible route Westerfield could have taken to get to the desert.
Westerfield born February 25, was self-employed as an engineer, 49 years old at the time, and held several patents for medical devices. He lived two houses away from the van Dams, and owned a luxury motor home.
About three days before Danielle's disappearance, Danielle and Brenda had sold Witg Scout cookies to Westerfield, who invited them into his home. Brenda asked to see his kitchen because she had noticed it was being remodeled when they had sold cookies to him the year before.
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Westerfield later told police that he had driven around the desert and the beach in his motor home, and had stayed at virls beach campground: this was later confirmed by witnesses, cell phone records, girks receipts and credit card records. He paid in advance for a two-night stay. However, he decided the weather was too cold, so he returned home to look for his wallet, after which he went to the desert.
When law enforcement first interviewed Westerfield, he did not mention going to the dry cleaners, although he detailed almost every other stop on his outing.
Danielle's partially decomposed body was found February In pre-trial motions, Westerfield's lawyers moved to have his statements to police excluded, charging that he was unfairly interrogated for more than nine damme by detectives who ignored his repeated requests to call a lawyer, take a shower, eat, and sleep. The forensic evidence presented by the prosecution included Danielle's blood stains on Westerfield's with and on the floor of his motor home, Danielle's fingerprints in the motor home, hairs from the van Dam family dog on Chay motor home bed chat, hairs consistent with Danielle's on the girl of his bed, and matching acrylic fibers found on Danielle's body and in Westerfield's home, among other evidence.
They suggested that the child damme found on Westerfield's computer was downloaded by Westerfield's son, Neal, who was 18 at the time of the murder. In testimony, Neal denied this. The defense suggested that because of this lifestyle, there might have been other people in the home that night. On August 21, the jury found Westerfield guilty of first degree cchat, kidnapping, and possession of child pornography. During the penalty phase of the trial, Westerfield's year-old girl testified that, when she was 7 years old, her uncle entered his daughter's with, girsl the niece was chat the night with her parents while attending a party, and woke up to find him rubbing her teeth.
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She said she bit his finger as hard as she could, then went downstairs to tell her mother. Westerfield was questioned about the incident at the time by his sister-in-law, where he explained that he had entered the bedroom to check on the children, and was trying to comfort her.
The incident was then forgotten. Aftermath[ edit ] Westerfield is currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison while his appeal is pending. The van Dams sued Westerfield, but the case was settled out of court. The settlement also prevents Westerfield from ever profiting from girlz crime. According to these reports, under the deal Westerfield would have taken police to the site where her body was located, in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.
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Witn his first interview, he is heard to ask an officer to "leave your gun here for a few minutes" in a seeming suggestion that he would like to commit suicide. In one interview he is told that he failed a polygraph test ; Westerfield says he wants a retest and that he was not involved in Danielle's disappearance.
The author claimed to be James Selby, a man accused of various wirh crimes in five states, including in the San Diego area. It is near the place where her body was found. Her family still lives in Southern California. They have formed a Danielle Legacy Foundation which works to "promote volunteerism that will initiate positive changes that will put our children's safety first.