Danielle was born on September 22, 1994 in Texas. Her mother Brenda Van Dam is a stay-at-home mom and her father Damon Van Dam is  software engineer for Qualcomm. Her parents have been married for 13 years and she has two brothers Dylen and Derrick.

Danielle  lived in the Sabre Springs area during the night of February 1,2002. Her mother, Brenda, had planned a night out with some girlfriends while Damon van Dam agreed to stay home with Danielle and her two brothers. When Brenda van Dam's friends arrived at the family home, the adults drank beer and at one point, ducked into the garage to share a joint. Then Brenda and her friends set out for a local bar.

The last time Damon van Dam saw his  daughter, she was falling asleep in her four-poster bed with a toothy grin on her face and Mickey Mouse earrings dangling from her ears. As her father planted a goodnight kiss on her forehead that Friday, few places seemed safer than Danielle's lilac and pink bedroom in her family's upscale home in suburban San Diego.
Mr. Van Dam then fell asleep. When his wife returned from the bar at 2 a.m. with two female friends and two other men, she found the garage door ajar. She closed it and then woke up her husband, who greeted and talked with their guests for another hour. The couple never looked in on their daughter before turning in for the night. Damon van Dam woke once to check on the family dog. He found a sliding door ajar, closed it, and returned to bed.
The next morning, the family gathered in the kitchen for breakfast, but Danielle, who liked to sleep late, wasn't there. When her mother went to rouse her at 9 a.m., she found an empty bed.

Danielle was apparently taken out of the safety of her bed from her home by, at the time, an unknown suspect. The following morning a frantic search of the neighborhood was made but to no avail. In the following days a massive search effort was organized by the Laura Recovery Center in addition to the efforts of all branches of San Diego Law enforcement. Over 3,000 people volunteered to search for Danielle. Damon and Brenda van Dam made numerous tearful appeals for the return of their kidnapped daughter.
Then, the worst outcome was discovered. Danielle's naked, badly decomposed body was found by a roadside on February 27. She was found near a cluster of oak trees in a trash-strewn lot 20 feet from a busy street. The medical examiner concluded the body was too decomposed to determine how she died or whether she was raped. Something more disturbing to me is the fact that her teeth were down her throat when her body was found.

Five days before Danielle's body was discovered, police arrested David Westerfield on suspicion of kidnapping. He had been under scrutiny since the morning Danielle was reported missing. Then, his house was the only empty one in the van Dam's neighborhood.
Damon van Dam told police he barely knew Westerfield, a self-employed man twice divorced. But Brenda van Dam had encountered her neighbor on several occasions. Once she and her children knocked on his door to sell Girl Scout Cookies. They chatted while the kids raced around his house. At the preliminary hearing, Brenda van Dam described a conversation tinged with sexuality. He invited her to a bar, Dad's, where he had once seen her before and told her to bring female friends.

"He said to tell them I had a rich neighbor to introduce them to," she said. He also took her phone number, saying he  sometimes threw "adult parties" and would invite her and Damon. She said she found the term "adult parties" so strange that she called her husband when she got home to relate the encounter
Brenda van Dam also told police she had seen Westerfield at Dad's bar the night her daughter went missing. He bought drinks for her and her friends and she played pool and danced with some of his friends.

When Westerfield returned to his home the Monday after the abduction, police were waiting for him. Detectives approached him as he stepped onto his front porch. Westerfield immediately struck them as nervous.

Despite the cold February morning, Mr. Westerfield was sweating  under both armpits to the point the sweat ran out from his armpits several inches. Detective Keene said the alibi Westerfield gave did not make sense. He told police he took his recreational vehicle first to the desert, then the beach, then headed home only to turn toward the mountains and then back to the desert. In all, he ticked off 13 different destinations, Keene said.
Detectives also noticed small cuts on his hands and considered Westerfield's eager attitude alarming. "In my opinion, he was overly cooperative," Keene said.

Detectives got search warrants and scoured his home and RV. In his home computer files, they found 64,000 pornographic pictures, including "less than 100" images of young girls in sexual acts. One file contained a cartoon in which a terrified girl begged a man not to rape her. In his RV, crime scene investigators found blood, hair and a fingerprint matching Danielle's. Her blood was also found on a jacket Westerfield had taken to be dry cleaned.
David Westerfield was charged with kidnap and murder.

Westerfield maintains he had nothing to do with his young neighbor's disappearance. At the preliminary hearing, his public defender said he would wait until the trial to challenge the prosecution's blood and fingerprint evidence. Defense lawyer Steven Feldman has indicated he will attack the way officers carried out the investigation and the van Dam's lifestyle.
Cross-examining the van Dams during the preliminary hearing, Feldman repeatedly pressed them on their drug and alcohol consumption the night of the abduction. Brenda van Dam, who also used marijuana in the parking lot of the bar, admitted she got high that night and had on about 30 previous occasions. She also said she had three cranberry and vodka cocktails and a shot of tequila. She insisted, however, that she was clearheaded.

At the trial, Danielle's mother questioned her daughter's killer. "What were you thinking as you killed her? Did she not touch your heart one bit?". Mrs.Van Dam must have forgotten that maniacs don't think and rabid animals are cold hearted.

Westerfield was unable to make eye contact with Brenda van Dam, Danielle's mother, who called him an evil "monster" who deserved execution. "Our precious Danielle was taken by a monster thinking only of self-gratification," Brenda van Dam said. "You sat by smugly as thousands of people frantically searched for Danielle and her family," Brenda van Dam said. "It disgusts me that your sick fantasies and your pitiful needs made you feel you needed her more than her family."You do not deserve any leniency, any mercy, because you refused to give it to Danielle." She looked directly at Westerfield, who did not look back. He remained still.
Brenda van Dam spoke of Westerfield adult children as she directed her words at Westerfield. "You have a daughter of your own," she said. "You will miss all of the good times in her life. You have victimized your own children just because you wanted mine. Although your children may try to move and change their names, they will always live with the fact that their father is a cold-blooded killer."

"I hope that he suffers twice, three times, 10 times the pain and fear that he put my daughter through before he dies."

David Westerfield was sentence to die for Danielle's murder.
Danielle was 7 years old when she was killed. She was in second grade at Creekside Elementary School close to her home. She was a Brownie, had recently taken up piano, loved coloring, playing with dolls and drawing. Her favorite colors were pink and purple (I designed this site in her favorite colors)..
My poem for Danielle
I've never seen your face but I could pick you out of a crowd.
I've never been to the place but I know you're somewhere proud.

In life I never met you, in death I love you still.
In my heart you hold a place, no one else will ever feel.

I've never heard your name but my memory seems to recall.
I don't know you but somehow I know it all.

I know what happened and I feel the pain.
I do hate Westerfield, I know he's insane.

I said I love you and yes it is true.
You'll always be in my heart, I'll never forget you.

Your tragic situation brought tears all over the nation.
It will be hard to overcome it but we'll find a way.
GOD bless little Danielle who we loss that mournful day.
Email me  [email protected]
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