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Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

s vehicles impounded in abduction case

February 6, 2002

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— Police seized two vehicles and other property Tuesday belonging to a neighbor of a 7-year-old girl who has been missing since late last week.

Investigators for the second day in a row also searched the neighbor's house, which is less than 100 yards from the home where police said Danielle van Dam was abducted Friday night or early Saturday.

"We have been focusing on him, but I'm not going to characterize him as a prime suspect," said Lt. Jim Collins, the lead investigator.

The neighbor, whose name was not released, remains a suspect but has not been placed under arrest, Collins said.

The man led investigators to the desert east of San Diego where he said he spent the weekend. Police impounded both the recreational vehicle he drove to the desert and his sport utility vehicle.

Danielle, who has blue eyes and shoulder-length blonde hair, was last seen when her father put her to bed Friday night. Her parents said they discovered she was missing when her mother went to wake her up the next morning.

Police said Danielle's parents were not considered suspects.

"Please drop her off safe somewhere," Brenda van Dam said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. "Just drop her off and leave and let her come home to us. Our only concern is getting her back. We just want our baby back."

Authorities believe Danielle left her home between 10:30 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday, when her older and younger brothers woke up.

The girl's father, Damon van Dam, told investigators he woke up around 1:30 a.m. Saturday to let the dog out and noticed a burglar alarm light was blinking. He discovered a sliding glass door was open and he closed it. He said he did not check Danielle's room at that time.

Brenda van Dam, who came home from a bar around 2:30 a.m. and stayed up for an hour with her husband and friends, said she made sure the children's bedroom doors were closed to keep from disturbing them, but she said she didn't check on them.

The family moved three years ago from Florida to Sabre Springs, about 20 miles north of downtown San Diego. Their quiet neighborhood has immaculate subdivisions and a new elementary school.

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