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Archive for Saturday, February 23, 2002

Neighbor arrested in kidnapping

February 23, 2002

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— A neighbor of a 7-year-old girl abducted from her bedroom three weeks ago was arrested Friday after her blood was found on his clothing and in his motor home, police said. The girl was still missing.

David Westerfield, 49, was taken into custody for investigation of kidnapping in the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, who vanished in the middle of the night.

Police Chief David Bejarano said DNA tests confirmed the blood in his vehicle and on a piece of his clothing was the girl's.

"I can't stress enough how strong that link is," the chief said.

Westerfield's attorney, Steven Feldman, said he will likely ask a judge to impose a gag order on those involved in the case.

"We certainly intend to mount a vigorous defense, but we don't wish to try the case in the media," he said.

Danielle was reported missing from her second-story bedroom the morning of Feb. 2 when her parents went to check on her.

Bejarano would not offer any details about what may have happened to the girl.

"We are very happy that police have made an arrest... But the fact still remains that we don't have our daughter. We still need to find Danielle," the girl's mother, Brenda van Dam, said outside the family home.

Search leaders made a renewed plea for more volunteers during the weekend.

Police have questioned Westerfield several times in the case. His sport utility vehicle, motor home and other property has been impounded.

Police said Friday that child pornography was found in his home.

Westerfield was transferred to San Diego County jail after questioning. He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.

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