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Murder Charge Likely In Missing-Girl Investigation (Danielle van Dam)
Union Tribune ^ | February 25, 2002 | J. Harry Jones

Posted on 02/25/2002 7:35:42 AM PST by FresnoDA

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How sad.....
1 posted on 02/25/2002 7:35:42 AM PST by FresnoDA
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To: FresnoDA
LEGAL EXPERTS DISCUSS VAN DAM CASE

( 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 there’s 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? We’ve 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.

2 posted on 02/25/2002 7:39:39 AM PST by FresnoDA
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To: FresnoDA
if Westerfield were to plead guilty immediately to the kidnapping and burglary charges, his attorney might be able to argue double jeopardy if a murder charge were brought later.

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?

3 posted on 02/25/2002 7:47:00 AM PST by LurkedLongEnough
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To: FresnoDA
How sad.....

Yes.

I thought they had to have a body to prosecute for murder? I guess I'm mistaken?

4 posted on 02/25/2002 7:48:21 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
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To: FresnoDA
Incredibly sad.
5 posted on 02/25/2002 7:48:49 AM PST by homeschool mama
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To: Travis McGee;BunnySlippers;Doughtyone;Hillary's Lovely Legs;one_particular_harbour;Mixer;spectre...
Ping...)))
6 posted on 02/25/2002 7:49:50 AM PST by FresnoDA
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To: LurkedLongEnough
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 understood for the same crime as well. I think the writer got it wrong.

7 posted on 02/25/2002 7:51:32 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
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To: homeschool mama
ImageMURDER CHARGES MAY BE FILED TODAY
A San Diego law enforcement source has told the Union Tribune that murder charges are likely to be filed against David Westerfield in the kidnapping of 7 year old Danielle van Dam. And the source says the murder charges, which would include special circumstances that qualifies the case for the death penalty, could be filed as early as today. Westerfield was arrested last Friday and charged with kidnapping after police said CSI teams found blood and DNA evidence in Westerfeld's clothing and motor home as well as in Danielle's bedroom. Meantime, search teams say they will continue their search for Danielle each day this week. Danielle was discovered missing from her bedroom on the morning of February 2nd.
8 posted on 02/25/2002 7:54:02 AM PST by FresnoDA
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To: MeeknMing
No, you don't need a body to prosecute someone for murder.

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....

9 posted on 02/25/2002 7:57:11 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: MeeknMing
I watched a show recently on Discovery Channel, and a Doctor/Dentist? killed his wife/girl friend, and took the body off the Virginia coast, dumped in the ocean inside of an ice chest/bait box.  Body was never recovered, but the guy was sentenced for murder anyway.  I am sure there are other cases as well.  Sorry for the lack of details, just giving you the scenario.

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....

10 posted on 02/25/2002 7:58:14 AM PST by FresnoDA
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To: LurkedLongEnough
Doesn't "double jeopardy" refer only to being charged/tried for the same crime a second time? I think you are correct, but you know lawyers--they could probably tie the case up in appeals and legal mumbo jumbo forever.
11 posted on 02/25/2002 7:59:27 AM PST by scholar
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To: FresnoDA
Maybe Westerfield would like to reveal where the body is, but something is keeping him from doing so. That something could be the condition of the body when he finished with it.
12 posted on 02/25/2002 8:00:59 AM PST by crypt2k
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To: FresnoDA

Danielle: Lost in the Hustle


13 posted on 02/25/2002 8:03:03 AM PST by crypt2k
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To: FresnoDA
There are still many gaping questions,...

I agree, I am still praying that LE is taking a hard look at the van Dams.

14 posted on 02/25/2002 8:04:17 AM PST by scholar
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To: FresnoDA
Could you be referring to Thomas Capono, the attorney in Delaware who murdered his girlfriend and he and his brother dumped the body in the Atlantic in an ice chest?

You are correct, no body but he was convicted of her murder.

15 posted on 02/25/2002 8:05:36 AM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs
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To: crypt2k
This was a crime of opportunity. Sadly the parents provided the opportunity.
16 posted on 02/25/2002 8:07:00 AM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs
You are correct, thank you for maintaining the FR memory division!! BTTT!
17 posted on 02/25/2002 8:10:08 AM PST by FresnoDA
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs
Could the blood itself satisfy the need for a "corpus"? I seem to remember a bone fragment has, before.
18 posted on 02/25/2002 8:11:40 AM PST by freedomlover
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To: FresnoDA
And why aren't the police beating the bejeezes out of this guy and getting some info as to where he dumped her body?
19 posted on 02/25/2002 8:11:54 AM PST by village idiot
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To: crypt2k
That something could be the condition of the body when he finished with it.

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.

20 posted on 02/25/2002 8:12:14 AM PST by newzjunkey
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