Another innocent victim of the heinous crimes against humanity that are committed far too often. Danielle was a 7 year old girl from San Diego, CA who was abducted from her family's home late in February 2002, and turned up some two weeks later along side a road miles from her home. Her blood was found on the clothing of, and in the residence of David Westerfield, who is currently being held under the accusations of (1) possession of child pornography (2) kidnapping and (3) murder. Mr. Westerfield pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

Danielle's case struck me like none other. I woke up one morning to the news on CNN, fully expecting another wave of infromation on the War on Terrorism, but instead was mauled by the news that this innocent child has been kidnapped. The pictures flashed on the screen aroused emotions in me that seldom see the light of day. I felt torn in half. I prayed for this little girl - that she be returned safely to her parents.

When I heard the news that her body was found, and was in such a state of decomposition that the only way to identify her was with dental records, I felt all hope escape my body - all hope I ever harbored for humanity. I wanted to cry. I did cry. I cried for this little girl, and all the other senseless acts against the human race, by the human race. My sorrow turned to rage, and when I saw that bastard David Westerfield in the courtroom, safe behind his bulletproof glass encasement, pleading not-guilty, I wanted to kill. I felt the urge to willingly take the life of that cold, unworthy, waste of human potential.

I am in hope that the civil libertarians won't save that horrible man from the fate of which he is so deserving. He does not deserve life, and he does not deserve death. Danielle deserves life. Bring Danielle back to us. It is simply not fair. (Note: As a response to some people here who think I am implying that Westerfield's death will bring back Danielle, that is NOT what I am saying. There is no justice in this case. There can be none. How can any justice be served? If anyone has any bright ideas, let me know.)

Note: For information about Danielle and her family, please visit the offical website at Thank you.


Key players involved:

  • Danielle van Dam: 7 year old girl who was abducted and killed, her body would later be found in a progressed state of decomposition in the desert outside of San Diego

  • David Westerfield: Man accused of kidnapping and murdering Danielle van Dam; also in possession of child pornography.
  • Here is some information on the events, and impending lawsuit:

    Between the times of 10 PM 1 February 2002 and 9 AM 2 February 2002, Danielle was taken from her bedroom in the Sabre Springs area of San Diego, CA.

    3 February 2002: Media puts out the original story.

    4 February 2002: Police treat the disappearance as an abduction.

    5 February 2002: David Westerfield is questioned and his car is impounded.

    7 February 2002: Danielle's parents were taken to the area in the desert (by the police) where Westerfield was said to be camping on the night of Danielle's disappearance. Westerfield hires a lawyer.

    9-11 February 2002: Media becomes rather critical of the van Dam family, commenting on their "swinger" lifestyle.

    11 February 2002: Danielle's parents put out a reward offering of $25,000.

    12 February 2002: A local bail bondsman puts up a $50,000 reward for information regarding Danielle's abduction. The parents hire a PR firm to handle the media.

    13 February 2002: Westerfield becomes prime suspect, and his DNA is analyzed by the FBI.

    14 February 2002: Westerfield's home is searched, and some items are seized.

    16 February 2002: It is determined that Westerfield is a collector of child pornography.

    20 February 2002: Investigators look into similarities between Danielle's case and other unsolved disappearances in the area.

    21 February 2002: The search is expended into Mexico. Police take screen doors from Danielle's room, probably to look for fingerprints.

    22 February 2002: David Westerfield is arrested at 10:45 AM. Danielle's blood is found on Westerfield's clothing and in his motorhome.

    24 February 2002: Confirmation of the discovery of child pornography in Weserfield's home.

    25 February 2002: Speculation that Danielle is no longer alive and was killed by Westerfield.

    26 February 2002: David Westerfield is charged with murder, kidnapping, and child pornography. He pleads not guilty, and is held without bond.

    27 February 2002: A girl's body is found in the desert just outside of San Diego. There is a high probability that it is Danielle.

    28 February 2002: Autopsy confirms that the body found on the previous day was Danielle van Dam.

    8 March 2002: Defense requests a gag order to halt the damaging PR Westerfield is getting.

    9 March 2002: Superior Count Judge H. Ronald Domnitz issues gag order.

    12 March 2002: Investigators find 64,000 pornographic pictures of teenagers on Westerfield's computers, and 2,200 videos. Those which clearly involve minors is said to be about 100.

    In reply to Frisina’s post “Danielle van Dam” on March 12, 2002:

    Danielle wasn’t abducted late in February 2002, but at the beginning, as can be seen from the timeline at the bottom of that post.

    Her body didn’t turn up some two weeks later, but almost four weeks, again as can be seen from the timeline.

    Her blood wasn’t found in Westerfield’s residence: one drop was said to have been found in his motor home (it wasn’t properly documented), again as can be seen from the timeline. Also, there was one small stain which was said to be on his jacket at the dry-cleaners (it wasn’t seen by the dry-cleaners).

    He was accused of possessing child pornography, but wasn’t charged under a child porn statute.

    Although the trial hadn’t even begun, and Westerfield had pleaded “not guilty”, you wanted to kill him. How can we trust jury verdicts when people are so ready to presume guilt?

    Her body wasn’t found in the desert, it was merely a rural area (and wasn’t on his route).

    The police had already questioned him extensively on the 4th.

    Both of his vehicles (car and motor home) were impounded on the 5th: his car was later returned to him.

    I’m not aware of Danielle’s parents being taken to the desert by the police (or anyone else), whether on the 7th or any other day. However, Danielle’s father did go to the desert in the middle of the month, but that was without the police, and in fact was against police advice. (Interestingly, he passed within a short distance of the body dump site, and did so at about the time the body was dumped there if the entomology evidence is correct.)

    I’m also not aware of any claims Westerfield had been camping in the desert on the night of her disappearance, in fact that’s contrary to what he said and is not consistent with trial testimony either. But if it were true, then he couldn’t have kidnapped her, as the desert is well over 100 miles away. This is perhaps a reference to the discredited claim by the tow truck driver that he pulled Westerfield’s motor home out of the desert sand on the Saturday (it was actually the Sunday).

    He was the prime suspect from the 4th, as evidenced by the fact that the police got a search warrant for his premises that very night, and placed him under 24 hour surveillance at the same time.

    Similarly, they had already seized items from his home on the 5th.

    He was a collector of adult porn. Among his images were a few that were “questionable”: maybe they were child porn and maybe they weren’t. Some members of law enforcement declared they weren’t, but the judge wouldn’t allow the jury to hear that.

    He hasn’t been linked to any other disappearances.

    It was closet doors that the police took from Danielle’s room. They did find unknown fingerprints in her home, but once they had determined that these didn’t come from their only suspect, they apparently made no further attempt to identify them (so maybe they came from a known sex offender).

    64,000 is the total number of images of all types on his computers, including those images which were part of the Windows operating system and other programs (such as Word and Excel). Nudes comprised about 8,000 to 10,000 of these. 2,200 was the total number of videos (these were apparently all just clips). The number of nude or porn videos wasn’t given. About 85 of the still images, and 39 of the movies, were considered “questionable”. Most of the images were of adult women. The number of teens wasn’t given, but remember that porn featuring 18-year-olds is legal. Even if some were under 18, remember that Danielle was just 7, so that effectively removes porn as the motive for the kidnapping and murder. We weren’t told the number which clearly involved minors, but remember that images of minors, even unclothed minors, are not necessarily porn: pictures of Danielle’s first bath were shown in court, and she was presumably nude at the time, but no one claimed that these were child porn. “Questionable” means that either the images were porn and the girl featured may have been under 18 (or may not have been); or the girl was under 18 and the images may be considered suggestive (or may not be). So this was highly subjective. The images shown in court as evidence of child porn included ones of a teenage girl sunbathing in a bikini, photos which were apparently taken by her mother who denied they were pornographic - they were just ordinary family photos.

    What we can conclude from all the above is that none of the images were clearly child porn, otherwise he’d have been arrested on the 5th, he would have been charged under a child porn statute, and no members of law enforcement would have declared the images to not be child porn.

    We now know that no evidence was found that Westerfield had ever been in Danielle’s house or at the body dump site, and the entomology (insect) evidence excluded him as did the dog scent evidence. The small amount of evidence of her found in his environment can easily be innocently explained by them being neighbors and having visited him recently. So it is extremely unlikely that he was guilty of the crimes.

    You can find confirmation of most of the above facts in the book on the case, Rush to Judgement, also the Wikipedia article on David Westerfield.

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