Skip to comments.‘It Isn’t Over Yet’:SDPD Chief Bejarano talks about latest developments in van Dam Case
Posted on 03/01/2002 7:36:24 AM PST by FresnoDAEdited on 09/03/2002 4:50:01 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
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Statement by Brenda & Damon van Dam
With today's confirmation that our beloved Danielle will never again be physically present in our lives, we are experiencing the depths of sadness, loss and grief which only parents who have lost children under similar circumstances can fully comprehend.
These emotions are being tempered by an overwhelming sense of gratitude and closure. There is not a more anxious feeling for parents than to not know where our children are. While the past seven years we've had the peace and confidence of always knowing where Danielle was and that she was safe, someone took that away from us almost four weeks ago. But now with love for an innocent child -- and for one another -- the community has brought her back to us, and for that gift we offer our most sincere and heartfelt thanks. Even though the final outcome is horrible, we could not have imagined the rest of our lives without this closure.
Love has conquered evil in our community. This is Danielle's legacy and we couldn't be more proud. As we were praying this morning with the incredible volunteer searchers who actually found our daughter, our personal prayer was that God would share our little angel with everyone who helped to find her.
Thousands of people have stepped forward in extraordinary ways since Danielle was abducted. The entire search effort was started by the Laura Recovery Center Foundation and later carried out by our local organization, the Danielle Search Center. More than 2,500 people generously donated their time and energy to the search, and countless more helped behind the scenes.
We also want to thank the San Diego Police Department for the thorough and caring approach they have given to Danielle's abduction and murder. They are among the finest individuals we've ever known.
Danielle was a very special, beautiful, loving little girl. We miss her desperately but find comfort in knowing that she is now safe again and at peace. For Danielle, our family, friends and neighbors, we thank you for unifying us into such a giving community. We will be forever grateful to all of you."
Damon as usual has no expression: a moral flatliner, he only shows emotion when tied in restraints by multiple masters with whips.
Late Thursday afternoon, San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst confirmed that the small corpse found alongside a rural East County road was that of the 7-year-old, who vanished at the beginning of last month.
Relying largely on dental records, Medical Examiner Dr. Brian Blackbourne confirmed the suspicions of detectives that the remains were those of the little girl.
"Dr. Blackbourne reports that he has confirmed that the body of a little girl discovered Wednesday is, in fact, the body of Danielle van Dam," Pfingst said.
Brenda and Damon van Dam issued a statement expressing their grief and thanking those who participated in searching for her.
"With today's confirmation that our beloved Danielle will never again be physically present in our lives, we are experiencing the depths of sadness, loss and grief, which only parents who have lost children under similar circumstances can fully comprehend.
"Danielle was a very special, beautiful, loving little girl. We miss her desperately but find comfort in knowing that she is now safe again and at peace."
For Danielle, our family, friends and neighbors, we thank you for unifying us into such a giving community./We will be forever grateful to all of you."
Citizen volunteers Wednesday afternoon came across Danielle's remains under a clutch of oak trees next to Dehesa Road, which winds through a sparsely developed inland valley east of El Cajon.
Pfingst and San Diego police Chief David Bejarano thanked the legions of civilians who gave up their spare time over the last four weeks to scour much of San Diego County and its environs in hopes of locating Danielle.
They also acknowledged that the discovery of her body -- a feat Pfingst likened to finding the proverbial "needle in a haystack" -- is a serious boon to their case against the man accused of abducting and killing her.
Sabre Springs design engineer David A. Westerfield, 50, was arrested a week ago and not guilty earlier this week to charges of kidnapping and murder.
Westerfield, a twice-divorced father of two who lives two doors down from the van Dams, could face the death penalty if convicted. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for March 11.
Something is still terribly wrong with the circumstances around this case. I feel that there was more of a relationship between Brenda and David than we are led to believe right now. How could a "casual" friend go into a dark home with father and 2 other kids in it, find her exact bedroom grab her and get out again without detection by anyone, or the dog. He must have been in that house before to know his way around. Did dad maybe slip out for a while after the kids went to bed and Westerfield saw? Too many questions to list them all here now.
Two people searching for the missing girl found the body behind some foliage, near a trail and among scattered rocks next to a golf course. Damon and Brenda van Dam had spearheaded one of the largest volunteer searches in state history, with hundreds of people combing nearby deserts and highways.
Meanwhile, the chief suspect in case, neighbor David Westerfield, is in custody waiting to see whether San Diego County prosecutors will seek the death penalty in Danielle's disappearance and slaying. Westerfield, who is being held without bond, has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnapping charges and has also been charged with possession of child pornography.
If convicted, Westerfield, 50, could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Danielle was last seen Feb. 1 when her father put her to bed at around 10 p.m. After she disappeared, investigators focused primarily on Westerfield, who lives two doors down from the van Dam family's suburban San Diego home.
Police say Westerfield took his motor home to an area in the desert outside San Diego for the weekend on the same morning the child was reported missing.
Investigators say DNA evidence links Westerfield to van Dam's kidnapping and slaying: her blood was found on an article of Westerfield's clothing and in his motor home.
Police also searched Westerfield's home has been searched multiple times, impounded his Toyota sport utility vehicle and motor home, and had him provide a DNA sample for analysis. Investigators who searched the mobile home said the smell of bleach was overwhelming.
Investigators also hauled at least 13 bags of evidence from Westerfield's home, including, they said, materials that appeared to be child pornography.
All I ask for is the truth.
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