Tags: Neighbor | Charged | With | Killing | Missing | San | Diego

Neighbor Charged With Killing Missing San Diego Girl

Monday, 25 February 2002 12:00 AM

San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst announced at a midday news conference that he decided to charge David Westerfield with murder because it had become apparent to investigators and prosecutors that the missing 7-year-old was most likely dead.

"Police and community volunteers have searched endlessly since Feb. 1 for Danielle without finding her," Pfingst told reporters Monday. "I must conclude that Danielle van Dam is no longer living and was killed by her abductor."

Westerfield, a neighbor of the Van Dam family in the subdivision of Sabre Springs, was arrested on kidnapping and burglary charges last Friday. He marked his 50th birthday Monday in a cell at the San Diego County Jail, where he was awaiting his scheduled arraignment on Tuesday.

The new charge includes the special circumstance of murder committed during a kidnapping, which could result in a death sentence or life in prison without parole if Westerfield is convicted.

Pfingst said he had not made a decision as to whether his office would seek the death penalty, leaving open the possibility that Westerfield could be offered a chance to avoid execution by leading police to Danielle's body.

Westerfield had been a suspect since early in the investigation. He was arrested after police received the results of DNA tests that police said matched reported blood evidence found on his clothing and in his motor home to samples from Danielle. The tests also indicated the presence of his DNA in Danielle's bedroom.

Westerfield had told police he had left for a brief camping trip in his motor home to the Imperial County desert on the morning of Feb. 1, the day Danielle was discovered missing. A subsequent search of his house turned up pornographic materials that police suspect involved underage subjects.

Danielle's parents have continued to hold out hope their daughter will be found alive. San Diego police had not publicly stated they had given up hope.

"I agree it's appropriate to add the murder charge at this point," said Police Chief David Bejarano. "I would love to see it proven otherwise, and that's why we ask that information continue to be brought to the attention of our department."

Law enforcement officers and scores of civilian volunteers have been out daily scouring the Sabre Springs area as well as the desert around the town of Glamis for any sign of Danielle. The searches were extended over the weekend to the Interstate 8 corridor in Cleveland National Forest between San Diego and Imperial County.

Pfingst said he hoped that the filing of the murder charge would not discourage the searchers.

"Any information regarding the disappearance of Danielle van Dam is critically important to law enforcement and, of course, to the Van Dam family," he said.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Pre-2008
San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst announced at a midday news conference that he decided to charge David Westerfield with murder because it had become apparent to investigators and prosecutors that the missing 7-year-old was most likely dead. Police and...
Neighbor,Charged,With,Killing,Missing,San,Diego,Girl
464
2002-00-25
Monday, 25 February 2002 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved