1 – The disappearance of Danielle Van Dam – February 2002

Let me recall the events for those not familiar with this criminal case:

San Diego California, February 1st 2002.

Danielle Van Dam is a lovely seven year old girl who lives with her family in the San Diego suburb of Sabre Springs, California. The parents are Damon and Brenda Van Dam, there are two other young boys, their sons, and a dog.

February 2nd 2002.

Around 9:30 am that morning, Brenda checks on Danielle and finds her daughter’s door open and an empty bed. Brenda and Damon begin to search for Danielle everywhere and finally, Brenda called 911.

Danielle Van Dam is gone, her naked, severely decomposed body will be found by a volunteer search team on February 27.

Meanwhile a neighbor, David Westerfield, has been questioned and is ultimately accused of the crime.

Media and trial reveal that Brenda and Damon Van Dam are swingers. The night of Danielle’s disappearance, Brenda Van Dam is at a local bar with her sexpals in search of partners to bring back home.

At trial, according to Damon, while his wife is gone, he plays videos games with his sons; what Danielle is doing during this time is unclear. Around 10 pm, he put the three kids to bed and goes to bed himself, watches TV.

The only official recollection of events is based on the declaration of Damon Van Dam, the single witness, who admitted on day 2 of the trial to having lied to police officers about what went on at the family’s home that night.

Criminal defense lawyer will show that Damon didn’t reveal to the police he had smoked marijuana, consumed alcohol and snuggled in bed with one of his wife’s sexpals, just a few hours before Danielle’s abduction; Damon didn’t consider those details relevant so he provided a expurgated version of the facts.

Trial will not show that Damon was even in the house after he put the children to bed. Both Brenda and Damon took and passed a lie detector test and despite their reluctance to relate details concerning the night of Danielle’s disappearance, police exonerated them of all suspicion after only 48 hours of investigation.

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