Skip to comments.THE OTHER VAN DAM STORY(New article from San Diego will have V.D. PR machine will be in overdrive!)
Posted on 05/01/2002 4:03:29 PM PDT by FresnoDA
Thomas K. Arnold
Talk show host Rick Roberts made headlines with his KFMB-AM radio show about Damon and Brenda van Dams allegedly swinging lifestyle. But he wasnt the only radio personalityor media outletto cast a critical eye on the backstory of the Danielle van Dam kidnapping case.
John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, whose John and Ken Show airs weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on Los Angeles station KFI-AM, devoted three shows to the case, even traveling to San Diego to broadcast from the van Dams Sabre Springs neighborhood. The week before that, they were the first to cast aspersions on the van Dams, a full day before the Roberts broadcast.
The Millennium Childrens Fund had just announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Danielle. Fund administrator Douglas Pierce had visited with the van Dams, and the next day he called a press conference in Los Angeles at which he voiced suspicions about the couples behavior. For an hour, Pierce blasted the van Dams for their apparent lack of emotion and general rudeness to him.
I dont know how much was true and how much was hysterical, but thats what made it fascinating. We tried to unravel it on the air, Kobylt says. In retrospect, I think he did peg their personalities very wellthe lack of emotion, the detachment, the obsession with the media messageand perhaps he got the vibe that they live a different life than most people.
As soon as Pierce finished on-air, John and Ken introduced their next guests: an angry Damon and Brenda van Dam, who lambasted Pierce as a nut case. We had scheduled them in advance, but when they heard Doug was on the show, they canceled, only to change their minds right before show time, Kobylt says.
After the interview, John and Ken picked apart the conversation and spoke critically about the van Dams lack of emotion and their defensiveness about questions pertaining to their own behavior and actions the last night Danielle was seen. The next day, the swinger story broke in The San Diego Union-Tribunefurthered that evening on San Diego radio by Rick Roberts.
Its a very dramatic story, says Kobylt. Everybody got obsessed with it pretty quickly... We have a pretty fair audience in San Diegoweve even made it into the top 10 on occasionand we started getting calls from people who live in the neighborhood and know the van Dams. As a result, it might as well have been in L.A. I tend to look at the whole [Southern California] area as the same, anyway.
(By press deadline, the van Dams could not be reached for comment by San Diego Magazine.)
Quoting the proverbial unnamed sources close to the probe, the Star reported that later-arrested suspect David Westerfield was aware of the van Dams sexual activities and had approached Brenda about hosting a sex-swap party in his house. The Star said Brenda had admitted to police that the couple belonged to a swingers club called Club CB and that sources say she flirted outrageously and danced with Westerfield the Friday night Danielle disappeared. He [Westerfield] knew that Brenda and her friends were sexually involved, and he wanted to be part of the action, but for whatever reason, he was not invited by Brenda to accompany her and her four friends back to her home that night for more partying and sex, the Star says it was told by a source.
|Carmen has known David Westerfield, the accused kidnapper and killer of Danielle van Dam, for over 20 years. He claims that rather than being a brutal psychopathic murderous pedophile, Davids actually a sweet puppy dog (ACCUSED of being a brutal psychopathic murderous pedophile).|
|Robert Shapiro, Fmr OJ Attorney||02/25/02||13:07|
|Danielle van Dams neighbor, David Westerfield, was charged with her murder, even before her body was found. Former O.J. Attorney Robert Shapiro joined the show to explain how this could be done. Also, how could a guy with so much evidence against him possibly defend himself? Rob knows a thing or two about that sorta thing.|
|van Dam neighborhood||02/15/02||16:13|
|Excerpts from the live broadcast on the street where Danielle van Dam was abducted 2 weeks earlier. John is accosted by members of the Psychic Friends Network, David Westerfield leads undercover cops to fried chicken, then slams the door in John and Kens face. Neither Mr. Westerfield nor Mr. Kobylt were arrested over the course of the broadcast.|
|Brenda and Damon van Dam||02/07/02||11:05|
|Brenda and Damon van Dam join the John & Ken show via telephone to discuss their efforts to find their missing 7-year-old daughter.|
The tragic story of Danielle van Dam, the 7-year-old San Diego girl whose recent kidnapping and murder attracted international attention, in part because of the seemingly random nature of the abduction, may yet yield some lessons that can prevent similar heartbreaking occurrences in the future.
Danielles father, Damon van Dam, tucked her in bed on the night of February 1 and then went to bed himself. Her mother, Brenda, was out with several girlfriends and did not return home until 2 a.m. Her father woke up in the middle of the night to find a sliding door open downstairs, but returned to bed without checking Danielles room.
In recent days, further details of the police investigation of the case have emerged during a preliminary court hearing to establish whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to continue holding in custody 50-year-old David Westerfield, neighbor of the van Dams. Mr. Westerfield quickly emerged as the chief suspect in the case, in large part because of his suspicious behavior in the days immediately following the childs disappearance. He was arrested on February 22 and is being held for the kidnapping and murder of Danielle. Police have found evidence of Danielles blood and her fingerprints in Westerfields motor home. That isnt all they found, however. A search of Westerfields residence yielded still more incriminating evidence. According to a March 13 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Authorities found computer images of child pornography, bestiality and animated cartoons of young girls being tied up and raped. Add possession of child pornography to the list of charges against him.
Such details present a picture of a rather sleazy neighbor. If Mr. Westerfield is ultimately convicted in this case it will become still more difficult to preserve the fiction, argued strenuously as fact by some, that pornography is a victimless crime. While it is true that not all users of pornography will go so far as to kill someone, several high-profile murderers of recent decadesTed Bundy comes to mindwere heavily involved in pornography. And, few people will defend child pornography, since it is clearly exploitative.
Another important lesson that this case can teach us about protecting children could easily be lost in the confusion surrounding the real nature of child abduction. The media often focus on abductions committed randomly by complete strangers, but in fact, only about one quarter of such cases involve a child being snatched by a stranger. According to 1997 statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, almost half of child abductions49%are committed by family members, mostly parents. Another 27% are committed by acquaintances. When it comes to violent crimes committed against juveniles, the vast majority65%are committed by acquaintances. The so-called stranger danger tends to be exaggerated.
Dr. Janice Crouse, BLIs senior fellow, said, This means that the choices parents make about who they and their children associate with can indeed make an enormous difference when it comes to protecting their children. The ancient admonition to choose your friends wisely remains good advice. Tragically, the van Dams may have learned this lesson too late. In this particular case, if reports about their swinger lifestyle and their participating in wife-swapping are trueand they have not denied itthe case may serve as a cautionary tale for other parents about the real reasons for living godly, upright and sober lives, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer. Such clean living is not only physically healthier, it also tends to protect both parents and children in other significant ways.
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE it was a total stranger who abducted seven-year-old Danielle van Dam from her San Diego home almost two weeks ago. Some thug could have picked her parents house at random and snuck in during the middle of the night, evading detection despite the home-security system. Somehow, the intruder could have found his way up to Danielles bedroom and removed her against her willagain, without being noticed.
Then again, maybe not.
The practical realities and crime statisticsless than 1 percent of the 800,000 children reported missing in the U.S. last year were abducted by someone unconnected to the familysuggest otherwise. Yet to judge by the initial coverage of Danielles disappearance on national TV, one would think her kidnapping had to be the exception to the rule.
The story, as first told on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Larry King Live, and America's Most Wanted, mirrored the account of Danielles parents, Brenda and Damon: Brenda was out partying that Friday night with friends at a San Diego nightspot. Damon put the kids to bed around 10. Brenda and her pals showed up around 2:30 and joined Damon for some pizza. The friends then left, and Brenda and Damon went to bed without first checking in on their daughter. They didnt discover that she was missing until 9 a.m. Saturday morning.
As usual, the story behind the story has been available mostly outside the establishment mediaon the Internet and talk radio.
Last Friday, San Diego talk-show host Rick Roberts presented his listeners with an alternative scenario for what might have happened. According to his "reliable" source "high in law enforcement," the van Dams are "swingers," and not in the dancing sense. They engage in "lots of wife-swapping," and reportedly did so in their garage the night Danielle disappeared. According to rumors circulating like mad on local talk shows and Internet bulletin boards, the van Dams lock their garage from the inside during their swingers parties to make sure Danielle and her two brothers dont stumble in on the festivities.
That would explain why the van Dams might have failed to notice an intruder breaking into their home and walking off with their child. It also provides a motive for neighbor David Westerfield, the only suspect thus far identified by San Diego police. According to the rumorswhich are, it should be noted, only thatWesterfield was a frustrated, would-be swinger who wanted to attend the van Dams soirees, but was denied admission for lack of a partner.
Theres more to the Westerfield angle: He saw Mrs. van Dam at the bar earlier in the evening, where, he claims, they danced (which she denies). He also high-tailed it out of San Diego and into the desert the next morning, which was enough to make police suspicious. So far, they have searched his home, where they found child pornography, and seized two of his vehicles, but they havent sought his arrest.
Its easy to speculate by connecting the dots: At the nightclub, Westerfield might have learned about the orgy planned later in the evening. Mindful that Danielles parents would be distracted, he could have used the opportunity to sneak into their home and take her, thereby satisfying his perverted sexual appetites and exacting revenge against the van Dams for not including him in theirs.
Its just a theory, and its rooted purely in conjecture, but its also the best lead available so far, which raises a worthwhile question: Why have so many in the press, the national TV media in particular, been reluctant to pursue it?
Surely its not just that the stories are unsubstantiated. That, after all, never kept the media from investigating claims of Nicole Brown Simpsons drug use, the basis of O.J. defenders absurd charge that drug lords were "the real killer."
Fraunces no doubt chose her words carefully. In the last 35 years, the term "lifestyle" has become not only the code word for any sort of sexual deviance, but also the quick way to claim a certain immunity from inconvenient questioning about it. This is the same logic Bill Clinton and his defenders used to rationalize perjury and lying to the American public, because it was "just about sex." For Gary Condit, it justified denying his affair to Washington police. His lifestyle took precedence over their duty to find Chandra Levy, dead or alive.
It may be, as Mrs. van Dam claims, that Danielles abduction has nothing to do with her parents sexual predilections, but at this point, theres no way for the van Dams to know that for sure. If they are lying about that Friday nights events, then their credibility on all matters must be called into doubt. And even if they are telling the truth about that night, but they hosted sex parties in their home on others, that could yield a long list of potential suspectspeople with unhealthy sexual behaviors who know the lay of the house.
The fetishization of "privacy" shouldnt keep the van Dams from being forthright, or preclude the press from doing its job. The life of a little girl is at stake.
Police say time elapsed with no news does not bode well
By Joe Hughes
February 13, 2002
San Diego police conceded yesterday that the odds of finding Danielle van Dam alive are diminishing and that an arrest in the case could be weeks away.
"We are not real hopeful on her condition," homicide Lt. Jim Duncan said.
Against that grim backdrop, searchers continued to scour areas around the Sabre Springs neighborhood where 7-year-old Danielle was reported missing 11 days ago.
Searchers combing a riverbed near Danielle's school, Creekside Elementary, found a blue backpack stuffed with old papers, a blue denim shirt and some underwear. They were collected in evidence bags by San Diego police.
Duncan, lead investigator on the case, said he had not been notified about the items. Asked about their potential significance, he said, "I would assume if somebody picked up something worthwhile to the investigation, I'd have heard about it."
Duncan said the investigation remains focused on David Westerfield, 49, a self-employed design engineer and a neighbor of the van Dams.
Westerfield has submitted a DNA sample for study, Duncan said. It has been sent to the FBI crime lab in Washington, D.C., and given the highest priority. Other evidence has been sent to a local crime lab.
Detectives brought in a bloodhound from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department yesterday to search Danielle's room for any sign Westerfield had been there. Police searched Westerfield's home and the girl's room with dogs last week.
Duncan said the bloodhound is better trained and has a more acute nose than dogs used previously. It has been used by the FBI in high-profile cases.
Danielle was last seen by her father, Damon van Dam, when he put her to bed about 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1. Her mother, Brenda van Dam, returned home with friends in the early-morning hours of Feb. 2. The couple discovered their daughter missing at 9 a.m.
People who were in the van Dam home Friday and Saturday have been cleared, Duncan said.
"We have no other potential suspects," he told the media yesterday.
"Progress is slow," said Duncan. "We do not appear to be close to an arrest."
Much rests with the examination of forensic evidence, a painstaking task that can take time.
Duncan said some material was taken from the motor home Westerfield took to the desert the weekend Danielle disappeared, even though Westerfield cleaned it before it could be examined, Duncan said.
He also said there has been no confession in the case.
As investigators concentrate on Westerfield, Danielle's parents continue to be questioned about their private lives on radio and television.
In CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday, the van Dams refused to discuss what King called spousal swapping. They said the focus should be on finding Danielle.
An investigator said police looked at swinger Web sites early in the case. One has shut down since Danielle disappeared.
Yesterday, Duncan said the couple's "lifestyle is not our focus. That is not the direction we are going to go; we want to solve this case."
In another development, Don Blakstad, a retired San Diego phone company owner, said he would offer $100,000 for Danielle's safe return. Blakstad said he hasn't spoken with the van Dams or the police about the reward.
He said he thought more money might convince someone who knows something about the case to come forward.
His attorney, Charlie Becker, said Blakstad has money to back a $100,000 check.
The latest offer follows $75,000 in rewards announced Monday.
You are correct Big John....the VD's and their PR machine believe (mistakenly) that the people of San Diego will by their Bravo Sierra caring routine...these people are deviants...bottom line....
The reason they are hanging around these people is strictly for fame...or then again, is it for another reason???
|Tameka Jones, right, and her husband Tieray Jones, left, arrive at a news conference Tuesday, April 30, 2002, in San Diego to appeal for the safe return of Jones' son two-year old Jahi Turner. Police believe that Turner was abducted Thursday afternoon from Balboa Park after his stepfather briefly left him unattended. Tieray Jones told police he left the boy alone in a playground for about 15 minutes while he went to get a soda from a vending machine about 150 yards away. When he returned, the boy was gone. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)|
|Tameka Jones, center, asks for the safe return of her two-year-old son, Jahi Turner, as her husband Tieray Jones, left, and Brenda van Dam, right, look on at news conference in San Diego, Tuesday, April 30, 2002. Police believe that Jahi Turner was abducted Thursday afternoon from Balboa Park when he was left unattended by the boy's step-father, Tieray Jones. Brenda van Dam is the mother of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam who was reported missing from her home in February and later found murdered. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
|Brenda van Dam, the mother of murdered 7-year-old Danielle, fought back tears March 14, 2002 as she described the frantic search for her missing daughter, but was defiant when grilled about her party lifestyle. Van Dam (C),who testified at a preliminary hearing in the high-profile child abduction and murder case, is seen with husband Damon van Dam(L) and friend Susan Wintersteen during an news conference at their San Diego home on Feb. 22. Photo by Fred Greaves/Reuters|
I have made no conclusion on who and how many are guilty in the Westerfield/VD case.
|Published on March 28, 2002
Are the van Dams Fit Parents?
. A search of Westerfields residence yielded still more incriminating evidence. According to a March 13 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Authorities
found computer images of child pornography, bestiality and animated cartoons of young girls being tied up and raped. Add possession of child pornography to the list of charges against him. Such details present a picture of a rather sleazy neighbor. If Mr. Westerfield is ultimately convicted in this case it will become still more difficult to preserve the fiction, argued strenuously as fact by some, that pornography is a victimless crime. While it is true that not all users of pornography will go so far as to kill someone, several high-profile murderers of recent decadesTed Bundy comes to mindwere heavily involved in pornography. (bogus??) And, few people will defend child pornography, since it is clearly exploitative.
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