Skip to comments.Westerfield On Trial (WEEK 1 Recap): Brenda Van Dam, Dad's Bar
Posted on 06/06/2002 10:15:36 PM PDT by FresnoDA
Westerfield, 50, is accused of abducting and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam and could face the death penalty if convicted. The child's mother reported her missing the morning of Feb. 2.
Brenda van Dam told prosecutor Jeff Dusek she disclosed to officers everything about her "open marriage" once they made it clear that it was important.
The mother said she didn't discuss her decision not to disclose information with her husband.
"I would have told (the police) anything they needed to get Danielle back," the mother said.Brenda van Dam said nothing else was taken the night Danielle was abducted.
"I wish they'd taken everything else but her," the mother said tearfully.
Earlier in the day, Brenda van Dam testified there were never any sex parties at her Sabre Springs home.
She later said that during a Halloween party last October, she and her husband had sex with a friend and her husband in the van Dam home.
Westerfield, a self-employed engineer, is accused of kidnapping the second- grader, killing her and dumping the body near rural Dehesa Road, where it was found more than three weeks after she disappeared.
Brenda van Dam broke down a minute into her testimony, when asked to name her children and give their ages, then later while testifying about a father-daughter dance Danielle was scheduled to attend with her father a week after she vanished.
Dusek asked the mother about the first of two "girls nights out" at Dad's Cafe in Poway with two girlfriends. Dusek asked if any men were invited to the Jan. 25 get-together at Dad's Cafe. Van dam said no.
"Was there a sex party at your house when you got home?" Dusek asked, hoping to pre-empt an anticipated defense attack on the mother during cross-examination.
"There's never been a sex party at my house," she responded matter-of-factly.
She also described previous contacts with the defendant -- she had said he bought her a drink at Dad's -- including a visit to his house with Danielle and her younger brother to sell Girl Scout cookies.
While the children were playing in his back yard, she said the twice-divorced Westerfield told her he was interested in her friend, Barbara Easton, who had caught his eye at Dad's.
On the second outing to Dad's, Easton walked right up to Westerfield and began talking to him, van Dam told the court.
Brenda denied dancing with the defendant on either occasion.
Earlier in the day, Medical Examiner Brian Blackbourne was asked about the cause and time of Danielle's death.
The girl's body was so decomposed when found by a volunteer searcher that it was impossible to establish a cause of death, Blackbourne had said Wednesday.
Thursday, he estimated her time of death at anywhere from 10 days to six weeks before the body was found Feb. 27.
Blackbourne also said it was possible that air temperature could be a variable in judging when she died. That led defense attorney Steven Feldman to suggest that especially hot days in late February could have accelerated the decomposition process.
In his opening statement Tuesday, Feldman told the jury that Westerfield could not possibly have dumped Danielle's body after Feb. 6, because he was under constant scrutiny by the police and the media.
"Is it your professional opinion (Danielle) could have been alive Feb. 6?" Feldman asked.
"Based on my observations? Yes," Blackbourne said.
"Feb. 17?" Feldman pressed.
"Possibly, yes," Blackbourne answered.
"Depending on the weather conditions, Feb. 22nd?" Feldman asked.
"That's pushing it for what I can accept," Blackbourne said.
He also testified he checked Danielle's body for signs of sexual assault but found none, primarily because of tissue damage from decomposition and animal activity.
Wednesday, the child's father admitted he lied to police about use of marijuana in the garage of his house the night of Feb. 1 -- hours before his daughter turned up missing.
He also told the court that on prior occasions he engaged in sex with both of Brenda's female friends.
A bartender at Dad's Cafe in Poway characterized Westerfield as a "people watcher," but termed a police report on the behavior of Brenda van Dam and two friends inaccurate.
Sean Brown said he was at work as a bar manager on the two nights that have come up in testimony in the case: Jan. 25 and Feb. 1.
It was Feb. 2 that the Sabre Springs 7-year-old was discovered missing.
Westerfield would talk to a regular customer, "hang out" and watch people as they drank and danced, Brown said. The bartender said he never saw the defendant dance or play pool.
Brown said Westerfield would drink 16-ounce rum-and-cokes.
"I believe David had a few drinks," Brown said of Feb. 1. "He was feeling good. He'd taken the edge off. I don't believe he was drunk."
He said the same about Brenda van Dam.
"I don't think she was drunk," Brown testified. "She was in good spirits but was in control of herself. She wasn't slurring."
Under cross-examination by co-defense counsel Robert Boyce, Brown said a police report containing his statements on the behavior of Brenda and her two friends was inaccurate.
Brown testified he warned prosecutor Jeff Dusek about the discrepancy during the lunch hour -- hours before he testified.
The statement from police indicated the women were "flirtatious toward males" and "partying hard."
Brown testified that the women were having fun as girlfriends do. He said he never saw them act inappropriately.
Brown was dismissed as a witness as the court day ended.
Damon van Dam told reporters Wednesday that his family's ordeal "could happen to anyone."
"We were just like everyone else out there watching this now," he said. "We were the exact same people you are. ...This is an awful, awful thing, and just everyone else needs to know that this can happen to you."
"I think everyone takes it for granted, their security," added his wife, Brenda. "I mean, you're in your home, you're in a safe neighborhood -- you feel safe."
I think the hard drug connection is coming....designer drugs and cocain. Feldman knows. It takes a lot of drugs to keep up that kind of sexual activity in your 40-50's.
Danielle was last seen wearing blue flowered pajamas with flowers
Her favorite colors are pink and purple
Danielle belongs to her local Brownie troop
Family friends have set up a website at: http://daniellemissing.tripod.com
San Diego police are scouring the Sabre Springs area for 7-year-old Danielle van Dam. Police say Danielle's parents, Damon and Brenda van Dam, reported her missing when they discovered Danielle was not in her room at about 9 a.m. Saturday, February 2, 2002.
Damon told police he put Danielle and her two brothers to bed at around 10:30 Friday night while Brenda was out celebrating with friends until about 2 a.m. Saturday, a send-off for a woman who was leaving the area, detectives said. When Brenda arrived home with four friends at about 2 am, police say they ate pizza with Damon and talked for about an hour. Shortly after the friends left, police say Damon and Brenda told them they noticed lights blinking on their burglar alarm panel andfound a sliding glass door and a side garage door open. Police say the alarm was not set , but the panel is a type that indicates when doors and windows are opened and shut at all times. The couple told police they closed the doors and went to bed, and did not check on the children .
Saturday morning, police say the couple told them a friend stopped by at about 9 am to see if Danielle could come out and play. Damon and Brenda told police that they thought Danielle was still sleeping and that Brenda went to wake Danielle. That is when police say the couple discovered Danielle was missing from her room and called 9-1-1.
Police began investigating immediately, using helicopters, horses and dogs to search the area canyons for Danielle, a second-grader at Creekside Elementary School in Sabre Springs. Officers also conducted door-to-door searches and provided the Border Patrol and Customs Service with photos of Danielle to keep watch for her at the border. Detectives additionally interviewed family members, neighbors, schoolmates and friends about the disappearance, hoping to develop leads, but had no luck.
Danielle was last seen wearing blue pajamas with flowers. She is white, 4 feet tall and weighs about 58 pounds. She has blue eyes and blond hair.
Police say at this point the parents are not considered suspects and have been extremely cooperative with investigators. Police are considering one of the van Dam's neighbors to be the prime suspect. Police have searched his home and impounded his vehicles. At the time of this writing, an arrest has not been made.
But Brenda told the 911 operator she had GREEN eyes. What mother doesn't know the color of her children's eyes???
Why didn't DVD glare at Westerfield? Was Brenda told to glare in order to make up for Damon not glaring during the pre4vious day's testimony? Or, does Damon know something that even Brenda may not know?
Van Dam has been recruiting more searchers among the estimated thousands of people who are visiting the desert during the holiday weekend. The number of volunteers ranges from 10 to 100 per day, Call said.
This story sounds more like a typical grieving father.....
VD disgust meter off the scope....
|Elizabeth Smart vanished early Wednesday when an intruder forced his way into the house an opened a window and took her.
|SALT LAKE CITY The father of Utah kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart is hospitalized after collapsing of exhaustion. Meanwhile the search for his daughter is now focused on a Canyon about eight miles from the family home.
The mere report of a man acting suspiciously was enough for authorities searching for 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart to block off a heavily wooded canyon and search through the night.
In addition, it's because of the sleazy sex life of the parents. There must be other 7 year old girls being abducted in the US. This case has everyone riveted because the parents are partly to blame. Perhaps they didn't do it (of that I'm not completely sure, though) but they let horny strangers in their
home house. I'm seeing this more and more as the trial continues.
We haven't even begun to be horrified!
Interesting question. I thought I heard Damon say that he was 36 and married 15 years. If true, he would have been 21 and she would have been 24. Hmmmm, kind of young for a guy.
Where and specifically how did they meet?
And then, at the end, she says she has to call the neighbor to come and get her kids because they're upset.
Which is it, Brenda? Did you already call, or do you need to call?
And the kids heard in the background don't sound upset at all.
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