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To: FresnoDA

( 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
Did any of you hear John Walsh on CNN this morning?

P. Zahn asked him about the parents extra curricular activities and that it had been reported that Westerfield had danced with the Mrs. that night. Walsh told Zahn that, that was irrelevant! From what I saw it would appear that he strongly believes that this guy is guilty .

Why isn't anyone bringing up the fact that the parents had kept the house unlocked, kids unattended, while they were locked in the garage?

73 posted on 02/25/2002 10:22:27 AM PST by hsmomx3
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