Skip to comments.Murder Charge Likely In Missing-Girl Investigation (Danielle van Dam)
Posted on 02/25/2002 7:35:42 AM PST by FresnoDA
Murder charge likely in missing-girl investigation
( 02-25-2002 ) - It's been 24 days since Danielle van Dam has turned up missing. And now, a suspect is behind bars, but searchers are no closer to finding the little girl.
Hundreds of volunteers spent the weekend searching around Borrego Springs and Pine Valley. On Friday, the Van Dam's neighbor, David Westerfield, was arrested.
Lab tests found the child's blood on Westerfield's clothing and in his RV. He now faces kidnapping and burglary charges. The self-employed engineer will spend his 50th birthday in jail on Monday.
On Sunday night, a fundraiser was held in Rancho Bernardo. Diners who brought flyers into the Rancho Bernardo Souplantation had 20 percent of their bill donated to search efforts.
Suspect David Westerfield is set to appear in court this week. But local experts say, without a body, there is no evidence that Danielle has been killed. Many fear the 7-year-old will never be found.
The single most important factor in determining the homicide of a missing body case is the uncharacteristic or the uncanny disappearance, said Deputy District Attorney Dan Goldstein.
Goldstein was able to convince a jury last August to convict James Dailey of killing his wife Lupe, even though her body was never found.
We found out he had made threats, that he said he was going to kill Guadalupe and that nobody would ever find her body, said Goldstein.
Besides a motive, Goldstein said there was other circumstantial evidence that pointed to Dailey's guilt.
In the James Dailey case, he had a motive. There was an acrimonious divorce going on and he wanted custody of his kids. There were inconsistent statements, and an alibi that failed, said Goldstein.
When you see a prosecutor of a case where theres no body, they have strong circumstantial evidence and they have a motive, said Defense Attorney Kerry Steigerwalt.
Steigerwalt says a motive is necessary in a murder trial to convince a jury to convict if a body hasn't been found.
And if David Westerfield were to go to trial for the disappearance and murder of Danielle van Dam, Steigerwalt says right now there is no motive.
What is the motive here? Weve seen in the press there were all kinds of bags of pornography taken from the home. Is that a motive? said Steigerwalt. It sure seems to me we're lacking motive. I mean we can stretch, we can hypothesize, we can believe that it was this cause or that cause. But there's no real motive here.
Detectives handling this case admit no motive has been established yet. However, new evidence or information may turn up as court proceedings go ahead.
Doesn't seem like double jeopardy to me - murder would be a different charge, wouldn't it? Doesn't "double jeopardy" refer only to being charged/tried for the same crime a second time?
I thought they had to have a body to prosecute for murder? I guess I'm mistaken?
I understood for the same crime as well. I think the writer got it wrong.
We had a murder in which a man was convicted of murdering his wife even though they never found her body. I can't remember their last names, but I do know there was a TV movie made about it. The murder victim's name was Vonnie and for some reason I cannot for the life of me remember who played her sister in the TV movie....Blonde woman, had breast cancer, married to a cop....
Westerfield is definitely getting squeezed BIG TIME now by San Diego LE.
Must we presume that the investigation is over, and that Damon and Brenda VD are "off the hook"?
There are still many gaping questions, at least on the surface, with regards to their actions that evening. In fact, one might conclude that their actions were either reckless or contributing to the outcome of the little girls safety....
I agree, I am still praying that LE is taking a hard look at the van Dams.
You are correct, no body but he was convicted of her murder.
RUMOR has been for weeks now that he's been negotiating to get death off the table (not that it matters as here in CA seemingly no one really dies) in exchange for the location of the body.
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