Skip to comments.Mourners Gathering At Site Where Danielle's Body Was Found: (Post van Dam News Here)
Posted on 03/01/2002 4:04:47 PM PST by FresnoDA
By Seth Hettena
March 1, 2002
"The memory of her soul compelled me to come down here and say a last goodbye," Davis said Friday, cradling her 7-month-old daughter and wiping away tears. "To actually see the place where her innocent sweetness was lying under a tree." Davis, 26, added white flowers to a growing memorial of messages, bouquets, a pink teddy bear and a stuffed blue bunny that marks the place where authorities believe a neighbor dumped Danielle's body weeks ago.
Dental records confirmed Thursday that remains found by a rural roadside 25 miles east of San Diego were those of the little girl, who vanished from her bedroom Feb. 2.
The cause of death could not immediately be determined and may never be because of the body's state of decomposition, said Police Chief David Bejarano. Further tests were under way.
Danielle's parents, Brenda and Damon van Dam, said the unflagging efforts of more than 2,500 volunteers who searched a vast area stretching from the ocean to the desert left them with "an overwhelming sense of gratitude and closure."
"With love for an innocent child and for one another, the community has brought her back to us, and for that gift we offer our most sincere and heartfelt thanks," the van Dams said in a statement. "Even though the final outcome is horrible, we could not have imagined the rest of our lives without this closure."
A memorial service is expected later this month.
A neighbor, David Westerfield, 50, was charged Tuesday with murder, kidnapping and possession of child pornography. He has pleaded innocent and is being held without bond.
Authorities said they found traces of Danielle's blood in Westerfield's motor home and on an article of his clothing.
The self-employed engineer spent the weekend of Danielle's disappearance traveling in his motor home, stopping in the desert east of the city, authorities said.
A hunch led volunteers to the area the remote road was one Westerfield might have taken the weekend Danielle disappeared, said Bill Garcia, a private detective who coordinated searches.
Nearby residents said they were unsettled by the discovery of Danielle's body so close to home.
"It kind of sickens us," said Charles O'Neill, 28, who lives about a mile away. "We've been driving by this road every day for the past month and knowing she's that close is something we never would have imagined."
Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 2(1) (1994) 1-4
This film describes the techniques that comprise what is popularly called "DNA Typing or Fingerprinting." It discusses the role of DNA typing in criminal and civil investigation by focusing principally on two major criminal cases: the kidnap and rape of a nine year old child in San Diego, California and a double rape/murder of two teenage girls in England.
The film starts with a reenactment of the kidnapping of a young girl from her bedroom at night. She was then brutally raped and returned to her room. The girl's parents did not even know that anything had happened until the next morning when she complained of pain. A doctor's examination confirmed the nature and extent of the injuries. The girl subsequently underwent surgery to repair the damage.
Suspicion fell immediately upon the father, not because there was any evidence against him, but because he fit some "profile" of a child molester. The father had no criminal or child molestation history, and the girl insisted that a stranger took her and attacked her. Nonetheless, the Social Service department forbid the parents from seeing their daughter, removed her from the home, and had her placed in foster care. These authorities insisted to the girl that her father molested her, and, after more than one year, the girl finally changed her story and told her foster parents that her father was guilty.
The father's attorney asked to have all of the physical evidence re-examined and, to the amazement of the police, a semen stain was found on the girl's night shirt--more than two years after the incident! Enter Dr. Edward Blake, who undertook a DNA analysis of the semen stain and blood from the parent. The DNA analysis technique that was used is called "Polymerase Chain Reaction," or PCR. As is explained in the film, PCR can absolutely exclude someone from being the source of a tissue or body fluid sample, but cannot individualize that person. The results of the PCR analysis in this case proved conclusively that the girl's father could not have been the source of the semen stain. Subsequently, the criminal court dismissed the charges against the father and the juvenile court ordered the child returned to her parents.
At the same time, a private investigator hired by the father's attorney uncovered a series of child molestations that had occurred in the same neighborhood and fit the same pattern. The suspect in these cases was a convicted child molester but was completely overlooked by the police. He was then arrested, and his DNA was shown to correspond to that of the semen stain. This part of the film ends with a blistering indictment of the law enforcement and social service communities for extreme bias and prejudice as well as dereliction of duty.
The next segment of the film discusses the scientific issues surrounding DNA analysis. The history of DNA typing is traced back to the laboratories of Sir Alec Jeffries at Leichester University, where DNA typing was accidently discovered. Through a series of interviews with experts that includes Jeffries, FBI officials, and other scientists, the main issues concerning DNA are explored. The issues include those identified in a study recently released by the National Academy of Sciences such as the need for the standardization of methods of analysis and training of personnel, strict quality control procedures, the proper use of inferential statistics, and the proper presentation of DNA evidence in court. Concerns about judges and juries being overwhelmed with DNA evidence are also voiced by both attorneys and scientists. This segment of the film is an excellent introduction to some of the main issues in DNA typing and will provide excellent opportunities for classroom discussion.
The film then turns to two more criminal cases. These cases actually predate the first case and are the first instances where DNA typing was used successfully to solve a criminal case. Over a period of one year, two female teenagers were found in the woods in the same rural area of England. Both had been brutally beaten, stripped, and raped. There were no witnesses, very little physical evidence, and most importantly, no suspects. Small samples of body fluid that did not belong to the victims were present on both corpses. Because of the similarity of the circumstances, the police were convinced that both crimes were committed by the same person.
After much publicity and investigation, the trail became cold and public interest waned. Finally, the police got a break. A witness identified a man that was seen walking in the woods near the site of the first murder shortly after the body was found. He was arrested and confessed to the first murder after much questioning; however, he made no admissions to the second murder. Dr. Jeffries was called in to perform a DNA analysis on the suspect and on material retrieved from both victims. This time another type of analytical method was used-- "Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism," or RFLP. This technique takes much longer than PCR but has the advantage of giving much more certain results. In this case, it was shown unequivocally that the man being held was not involved in the murders. When asked why he confessed, he stated that the police put so much pressure on him that he finally relented just to get them off his back.
With the investigation trail now cold again, the authorities decided on an extraordinary maneuver. They surmised that the killer still lived in the area. The police asked all males between 13 and 55 who lived in the surrounding area to come in and voluntarily give a blood sample. These samples would then be tested using RFLP to determine if any were similar to the DNA pattern obtained from the evidentiary material. The authorities felt that either the guilty man would be caught by his DNA type or would make himself conspicuous by his failure to offer a sample.
A local baker tried many times to pay someone else to impersonate him and donate a blood sample. He finally badgered a coworker into performing this charade. He altered his own passport, substituting the other man's picture. The other man pulled off the caper successfully but then made the mistake of telling some friends what he had done. The secret was out. Finally, the baker turned himself in to the police. RFLP analysis showed that his DNA pattern was the same as that found in the evidentiary samples discovered on both victims, and he confessed.
Next is a brief discussion of some of the other uses of DNA typing. These include determination of paternity, personal identification, the use of inferential statistics, the development of population databases which are used to draw conclusions from DNA analysis, and the future of DNA typing.
The film concludes with a discussion of the sensitive issue of DNA databanking, wherein a portion of a population (or a whole population) would have their DNA typed and stored in a large data base. There are a number of issues that make this a sensitive subject. These include privacy, the future ability of scientists to determine personality characteristics from DNA, the cost associated with this type of project, and the problem that the markers used today would be different than those used in the future, thus making the data base obsolete. Once again, interviews are conducted with lawyers, law enforcement representatives, and scientists. All seem to agree only that the problems are difficult and will have to be decided by the public, not by lawyers or scientists.
This film provides an excellent introduction to DNA typing and its accompanying scientific, legal, and political issues. Enough of the science is presented so that the viewer can understand what is going on, why the conclusions from DNA typing are equivocal, and why DNA fingerprinting is not like real fingerprinting. The cases chosen for illustration may be unusual, but they are both real cases and provide dramatic evidence of the power of DNA typing and its role in identification--sometimes where no other method is available. The film would be a welcome addition to any introductory criminal justice class because it goes well beyond the scientific issues surrounding DNA. It provides a good discussion of social and criminal justice problems as well. The film would also be very valuable in an introductory criminal investigation and forensic science classes.
Jay Siegel, Ph.D.
Professor of Forensic Science
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
Nor can I. It's almost ghoulish.
I'm the opposite of being attracted to such things. I look the other way when I drive by an accident. I don't want a sad or vivid picture etched in my mind.
As far as little Danielle is concerned, I want to think of her precious little face and imagine her in the arms of Jesus. That's far more meaningful than looking at a spot of ground.
This is a frighteningly graphic account of a recent crime against a 6 year old child just coming to trial. Please let this account serve as white hot scorching reason, why ALL parties involved in the death of Danielle, must be brought to justice.
If as the evidence indicates, Westerfield is the sole perpetrator, then all of San Diego must rail against any form of plea bargain.
If (and that is a big if) any of the incredible stories circulating tonight have any basis in actuality, it is even more important that all other accomplices, or participants in the death of Danielle stand accountable for such actions.
Read on...but be warned, this is most disturbing.
Freeper "sneakypete" stated this in a most chilling way on a previous thread earlier today, CHILD RAPE is an abomination. No mercy can be shown to such perpetrators!!
Don't agree with you often "sneaky" but I applaud your comments on this matter.
After reading on, I am sure you will all agree he was very correct......
Gory details about the condition of the 6-year-old Aberdeen rape victim came out in testimony Monday in the 1998 rape and kidnapping trial of Shane Anthony Luce, 29, of Aberdeen.
Jurors were also shown pictures of the girl's bloody and bruised body.
"This girl was horribly torn open and needed to be fixed," Dr. Scott Berry testified Monday. He was the Aberdeen obstetrician who repaired the damage.
As three pictures of the girl taken that night were flashed on a TV monitor that only the jury and witness could see, many of the jurors became rigid, taking short, quick glances at the revealing photographs. One juror placed her hand over her mouth, as if in shock.
The girl was scraped and bruised all over her body. There was blood between her legs and running down her thighs.
Before surgery several foreign hairs and other debris - dirt and leaves - were removed from the girl's body. Pubic hairs were found in her vaginal vault. Some hairs were located in her anus, and a long hair was removed from her body.
Berry testified that extensive surgery was needed in both the anal and vaginal areas.
He said he couldn't recall seeing semen, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there. Because there was little or no semen, a blunt object may also have been used, Berry testified.
The girl's parents also testified Monday. Both described a trip to the Brown County Speedway on July 3, 1998. After the races and fireworks, the girl and her father headed home, while the mother and her son ran a few errands.
The girl went to bed shortly after returning home. By about 2:30 a.m., everyone else had gone to bed as well.
A noisy screen on the front door woke both parents about 5:30 a.m.
Sitting up in bed, the mother said she saw the girl at the front door. She said she remembers the girl saying something about a nightmare and a bad man. The 6-year-old wanted to take a bath and put on clean underwear, the mother said. The mother didn't know what the girl was talking about until she came into the parent's bedroom and turned the light on. "Suddenly everything made sense," the mother testified.
The child was immediately wrapped in a blanket and taken to the emergency room. On the way there, the mother testified that the girl told her that she, the mother, knew the man who did this. The girl asked who he was.
The woman testified she went to high school with Shane Luce. She also said she had seen the original suspect, Steven Tosh, when the family looked at the home they ended up buying. Tosh had previously lived there.
The mother said the girl has only a dim memory of that night.
The girl told a hospital nurse that the man said if she yelled he would kill her mom and dad, the nurse testified Monday. The girl was taken out of her bedroom to a vacant lot a short distance away and raped.
The father said lights were left on in the hallway and bathroom. There was also a night light and a string of Christmas lights in the children's bedroom to illuminate the area for bathroom trips. A motion detector was outside the home.
When the girl and her mother left for the hospital, the father grabbed his son, the phone and went outside and dialed 911.
He said he made a large swoop of the home, noticing the back door was open, beer cans were by the clothesline, and a hollyhock was broken underneath the kids' bedroom window.
Because so many lights were on inside, the father realized how clearly someone could see into the children's room. The blinds on the window had been partially raised so the cat could look out.
Tosh, the previous tenant, had many of the factors law officers were looking for in a suspect.
Detective Steve Pionk testified that Tosh was seen driving by the home before and after the kidnap and rape. Tosh had no alibi and originally lied to law enforcement during interviews, saying he was working or going to a bakery to buy doughnuts, according to Pionk.
After the incident, Tosh changed his appearance by cutting his hair and growing a beard, Pionk said.
Another man said he and Tosh were driving when Tosh spotted some younger girls and commented that they should kidnap and rape them, Pionk said.
Pionk also testified that Tosh agreed that it was possible for him to commit the crime because he knew the layout of the house.
Pionk said some evidence was discarded. That evidence included what police called some trash and a hair. The hair simply disappeared.
"It (trash) should have been kept for DNA purposes," Pionk said. "There were numerous individuals at the party" that was near the victim's home that night and early morning. The trash included beer cans.
The trial continues today at 9 a.m. in the third floor east courtroom at the Brown County Courthouse.
I've been very curious to know if they think the body was moved. After all, it wasn't discovered the first go-round.
If it was moved, this had to involve more than DW. He was under constant surveillance from the beginning.
Were the parents? Were their calls monitored? They should have been.
I remember when the father was exonerated. I thought there could be no end to my anger if I were him. How terrible for that family !!!!!
I never thought he was guilty in the first place.
It was the same with the Dale Akiki case. When I heard that he was accused of killing an elephant and a giraffe in front of the children, I thought I must be in the Twilight Zone.
So do I. I have to believe that with so many people feeling this doesn't pass the smell test, LE has to be suspicious as well. I hope they are probing and connecting the dots beyond Westerfield.
Please let that be so if there are others involved !!!!
Westerfield had child pornography in his possession. Are police investigating his contacts (via phone records, etc.) to see if he had connections with possible other suspects in the area?
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the maine; if a clode be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind, so therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Why bother with the tabaloids? We have threads on FR that outdo them.
Well,for one thing it helps to focus public attention on child molesting/kidnappying/murder. If this helps people become more aware of it and pay more attention to the security of their children,it's a good thing.