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Westerfield On Trial (WEEK 1 Recap): Brenda Van Dam, Dad's Bar
KGTV 10 News-San Diego ^ | June 7, 2002 | KGTV

Posted on 06/06/2002 10:15:36 PM PDT by FresnoDA

Westerfield On Trial....WEEK 1 Recap....


Day 3: Brenda Van Dam, Dad's Bar

Mother Of Murdered Girl Breaks Down On Stand

Posted: 7:16 p.m. PDT June 6, 2002
Updated: 7:42 p.m. PDT June 6, 2002
SAN DIEGO -- No concerted effort was made between Brenda and Damon van Dam to withhold "lifestyle" information from police officers investigating the disappearance of their daughter, the mother testified Thursday.
Brenda van Dam was on the witness stand most of the third day of David Westerfield's kidnap and murder trial.

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.

Video Summary Of Day 3
VideoAttorney Milt Silverman's Analysis Of Day 3
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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. 7?"


"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.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: vandam; westerfield
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To: MizSterious
Some old quotes....seem rather hollow from what we know now.

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."

141 posted on 06/07/2002 3:50:36 PM PDT by John Jamieson
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To: RnMomof7
Wife won't let me devote next month to the search for dirty pictures!

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.

142 posted on 06/07/2002 3:54:38 PM PDT by John Jamieson
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Thanks for answering that question. Do you happen to know Brenda's maiden name?

No, I have no idea.
143 posted on 06/07/2002 3:58:09 PM PDT by sbnsd
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To: John Jamieson
John, early on there were reports of "traces" of cocaine. Some of those news items have been lost when the threadkillers went on a rampage, and the news agencies (except for the SD U-T) auto remove everything after 30 days or so. But also remember the reports of Damon vacuuming--denied in the PH, so we have to keep that in mind.
144 posted on 06/07/2002 3:58:32 PM PDT by MizSterious
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To: John Jamieson
She shows the wear
145 posted on 06/07/2002 4:01:09 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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To: sbnsd
Ok, Thanks
146 posted on 06/07/2002 4:36:09 PM PDT by BARLF
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To: FresnoDA; Mrs. Liberty; demsux; Jaded; skipjackcity; UCANSEE2; RnMomof7; spectre;BARLF; FriarTom...
This is the original post, from the February 9, 2002 broadcast of Americas Most Wanted.  As of March 4, 2002, it was still posted on the AMW website.


Additional Quirks:

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: 

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???

147 posted on 06/07/2002 5:06:38 PM PDT by MizSterious
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To: sbnsd
Cope, I believe.
148 posted on 06/07/2002 5:17:23 PM PDT by Jaded
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To: MizSterious
But Brenda told the 911 operator she had GREEN eyes. What mother doesn't know the color of her children's eyes???

To give her the benefit of the doubt, she also said Danielle was 6 feet tall with brown hair. She sounds like a completely different little girl. Brown hair, green eyed, 6 foot 7 year old girl. Based on BVD's 911 call, you'd never find Danielle. I'd attribute it to stress or not thinking about what she's saying.
149 posted on 06/07/2002 5:22:21 PM PDT by sbnsd
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To: sbnsd
Or some type of "self medication". Wonder what they were doing when they "went upstairs for a few minutes" that morning? Snorting or puffing in the bathroom?
150 posted on 06/07/2002 5:31:59 PM PDT by Politicalmom
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To: Politicalmom
Or some type of "self medication". Wonder what they were doing when they "went upstairs for a few minutes" that morning? Snorting or puffing in the bathroom?

Could be. I doubt the police who came to take her statement and description of her daughter asked, "Are you on drugs?" Whatever it was, she was WAAYY OFF on Danielle's description. Even after the 911 operator corrected the height, BvD agreed to the 4'8" height. In the missing ad, she was listed at 4'.
151 posted on 06/07/2002 5:37:23 PM PDT by sbnsd
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To: FresnoDA
Glaring intently at David Westerfield from the witness stand, van Dam spent

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?

152 posted on 06/07/2002 5:39:37 PM PDT by It's me
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To: MizSterious
Remember the stories of Damon VD, partying in the Desert...and how some of the rescuers said that all they were doing was riding around drinking beer?

Damon van Dam spent yesterday handing out fliers in Borrego Springs, Glamis and Ocotillo, said family spokeswoman Paula Call.

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....

Collapsing of Exhaustion Father of Kidnapped Victim Hospitalized

alt alt alt 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.

alt alt
alt About 1,200 volunteers on Thursday spread out across the city to try and find the girl taken at gunpoint in her pajamas from her Federal Heights home.

One of the volunteers reported seeing a man acting suspiciously at the top of Emigration Canyon on Thursday evening, setting off the search, which continued there Friday morning.

The girl's father, Ed Smart, was hospitalized Friday morning after collapsing from exhaustion. He had slept little in the more than 48 hours since his daughter's disappearance. The family did not say which hospital he was in.

The volunteer searcher in Emigration Canyon told Salt Lake City television station that he saw a man there wearing a white hat and white shirt, which fit the description of the kidnapper's clothing.

He said it appeared the man might be trying to wipe out footprints. He said he followed the man, lost sight of him and then heard gunshots. He didn't see the man again.

Salt Lake County sheriff's officers arrived within 20 minutes and closed off the canyon, said city police spokesman Fred Louis. A helicopter with infrared equipment and deputies searched through the night and into the morning.

There is at least one transient who lives in the rugged area of forest and sagebrush, sheriff's spokeswoman Peggy Faulkner said Friday. That may have been the man the searcher saw.

Police say if they find the transient they will question him to see if he fits the description of the abductor, but he is not considered a suspect.

Earlier, police had said that despite more than 1,000 tips, with calls arriving at police headquarters about one per minute, they were no closer to finding the girl.

The reward was initially $10,000, but donations from the community boosted the fund to $250,000.

Pictures of the missing girl were posted throughout the city and on the Internet and people started wearing light-blue ribbons, Elizabeth's favorite color, and hanging them from trees and car antennas.

Police said that on Wednesday between 1 and 2 a.m., an intruder forced open a window at Elizabeth's home and went into the bedroom where the teen-ager and her 9-year-old sister slept. Police said the gunman warned the younger girl her sister would be harmed if she told anyone.

Because of the gunman's threat, the younger girl waited several hours before alerting her parents, police said.

The kidnapper did not call Elizabeth by name and he did not appear to know his way around the house, the sister told police. No neighbors reported anything suspicious.

Copyright © 2002 KABC-TV and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2002

153 posted on 06/07/2002 5:41:57 PM PDT by FresnoDA
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To: sbnsd
DW= 6'2", brown hair, green eyes. WTF's up with that? Coinky-dinkle?
154 posted on 06/07/2002 5:45:47 PM PDT by Jaded
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To: Jaded;FresnoDA;MizSterious
What does Bill Libby look like?
155 posted on 06/07/2002 5:47:30 PM PDT by Jaded
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To: Jaded
The Westerfield case is a bigger news story, Evans said, "because there are a lot of spaces in between (the case) that aren't adding up."

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!

156 posted on 06/07/2002 5:50:28 PM PDT by It's me
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To: MizSterious
Is this not weird?
157 posted on 06/07/2002 5:54:19 PM PDT by BARLF
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To: MizSterious
Someone needs to tell O Reilly there is NOT a ton of evidence against DW
158 posted on 06/07/2002 5:57:51 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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To: John Jamieson
What were DVs doing before being married about 10 years ago?

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?

159 posted on 06/07/2002 6:09:26 PM PDT by It's me
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To: Southflanknorthpawsis
Doesn't BVD also say in the 911 call that she has called the neighbor to come get her kids?

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.

160 posted on 06/07/2002 6:10:34 PM PDT by pinz-n-needlez
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