Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Mourners Gathering At Site Where Danielle's Body Was Found: (Post van Dam News Here)
Union Tribune ^ | March 1, 2002 | Seth Hettena

Posted on 03/01/2002 4:04:47 PM PST by FresnoDA

Mourners gather at site where Danielle's body was found




ASSOCIATED PRESS

March 1, 2002


Associated Press
Mourners place flowers and a stuffed animal Friday, on the site under an oak tree where 7-year-old Danielle van Dam's body was found along Dehesa Road.


Associated Press
Andy Black looks over a memorial for 7-year-old Danielle van Dam after placing flowers Friday on the site where her body was found.
EL CAJON – Laura Davis said she felt drawn to the quiet patch of shade under an oak tree where searchers this week found the body of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam.

"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."



TOPICS: Breaking News; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200 ... 651-660 next last

Successful searchers guided by 'angel'


UNION-TRIBUNE 
Shawna Miller just knows her sister, missing for 16 years and feared dead, helped guide her search team to Danielle van Dam's body.


By Susan Gembrowski and Brian E. Clark
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS

March 1, 2002

Shawna Miller just knows her sister, missing for 16 years and feared dead, helped guide her search team to Danielle van Dam's body.

"I truly believe she was my angel," said Miller, barely able to contain her tears yesterday.

Two men in Miller's group, Karsten Heimburger and Christopher Morgan, found the 7-year-old's body Wednesday in a spot thick with brush off Dehesa Road, east of El Cajon. The group had searched the area for nearly three hours, and some searchers had gone home.

For more than three weeks, thousands of volunteers organized by the Danielle Recovery Center in Poway had undertaken a heartbreaking mission, checking thousands of acres of brush and desert.

Miller has lived with the pain of a missing relative since Oct. 23, 1985, when her sister, Mary Colette Rawlinson, then 19, was last seen. Her sister disappeared during the three-year period in the mid-1980s when more than 40 prostitutes and drug abusers were murdered in the San Diego region. Police didn't seem interested in finding her, Miller said. Her sister's roommate was found decapitated nine months later.

Looking for Danielle was therapeutic, said Miller, a 28-year-old Crest resident. She had participated in three other searches in the Kitchen Creek area of East County.

"I found a little bit of peace," she said. "We were all very elated we found her, but at the same time we found a child no longer breathing."

On the day of the Dehesa Road search, when Miller had walked back to her car to recheck maps, the two members of her search team called her cell phone to say they had found a body. Heimburger also called 911, and the group waited for police, as they had been instructed to do.

Wednesday's search was the first time Heimburger and Morgan, friends since junior high, had looked for Danielle.

"I'm glad to be able to be considered a part of that wonderful crew," said Heimburger, 31, of University City. Morgan, 31, of Hillcrest, said: "I'm just overjoyed that the family had closure. That's the main focus. They don't know what happened, but they know where their baby girl is."

The searchers declined to talk about what they saw. Miller also wouldn't discuss what she said to Danielle's parents, Brenda and Damon van Dam.

"Out of respect for the family, and I don't want to compromise the case," Miller said.

The search team had dwindled to five people from 13 when the body was found at 2:05 p.m.

"Now, at the very least, the family can have some kind of closure," said Jill Ward, a volunteer and neighbor of the van Dams' who worked at the Danielle Recovery Center. "Of course we all wanted to find her alive. But now, as horrible as this ending is, they will be able to move on."

Ward, whose 9-year-old daughter attends Danielle's school and whose family lives two streets away, was one of a score of searchers who stopped by the recovery center on Poway Road yesterday.

They paid their respects, delivered flowers, dropped off bright yellow vests and consoled one another.

They were joined by Brenda and Damon van Dam and their two sons, Derrick, 9, and Dylan, 5, about 11 a.m. The family stayed for several hours, met with San Diego police officials and thanked searchers for their efforts before leaving without speaking to reporters.

The van Dams and volunteers were led in a prayer circle by the Rev. Joseph Acton of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Rancho Peñasquitos.

"Brenda told us that 'love conquers evil,' " Acton said, speaking in front of a tall poster board covered with more than 100 photos of Danielle. "And that her family's thanks went out to everyone who helped them in the search for their daughter."

Michael Lemire, who spent nearly three weeks in the search effort, said there were many tears in the prayer circle.

"A lot of emotions were loosed," said Lemire, a musician who lives near Mount Shasta.

He was performing in Alpine when he heard Danielle was missing and came to help. Fiona Oberrick, who helped direct the recovery center efforts, said she hoped she would never have to help look for a kidnapped child again.

"But I think everyone who participated would do it again in a heartbeat," she said. "The feelings are terribly bittersweet today, but we are all glad that we could help bring Danielle home to her family."

The van Dam family plans to hold a memorial service for Danielle, though no date has been chosen, said Diane Halfman, director of the recovery center.

They have asked that people send donations to a Danielle memorial fund at the Community Bible Church, 9919 Carroll Center Road, San Diego, CA 92126.

The recovery office will remain open for another week, Halfman said.

The searchers in Miller's group plan to keep in touch long after that, Miller said.

"The moment we found her, we became a family," she said.

Miller said she hopes the effort to find Danielle will be the model for other searches of missing children around the country.

"Organized searches do get results," she said. "Get out there and rattle every stone and look under every bush and you'll find what you're looking for. There is power in the masses."


1 posted on 03/01/2002 4:04:47 PM PST by FresnoDA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: golitely;spectre;Amore;Bigg Red;Travis McGee;BunnySlippers;Doughtyone;Hillary's Lovely Legs...
Ping....)))) Public pressure has increased awareness of this story. It may prove difficult for those involved to keep the lid on the many details.....IMHO
2 posted on 03/01/2002 4:07:08 PM PST by FresnoDA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
IN MEMORY OF DANIELLE VAN DAM

Video: Low / High
Get Media Player


( 03-01-2002 ) - Brenda and Damon van Dam released an official statement Thursday night:

"With today's confirmation that our beloved Danielle will never again be physically present in our lives, we are experiencing the depths of sadness, loss and grief which only parents who have lost children under similar circumstances can fully comprehend."

The family also says: "Love has conquered evil, in our community. This is Danielle's legacy and we couldn't be more proud. As we were praying, this morning, with the incredible volunteer searchers who actually found our daughter, our personal prayer was that god would share our little angel with everyone who helped to find her."

The statement ends with: "Danielle was a very special, beautiful, loving little girl. We miss her desperately but find comfort in knowing that she is now safe again and at peace. For Danielle, our family, friends and neighbors, we thank you for unifying us into such a giving community. We will be forever grateful to all of you."

Earlier Thursday, Danielle's parents were at the search center in Poway to thank the volunteers who worked so to find their daughter. It was their first public appearance since receiving word about the discovery in Dehesa Wednesday afternoon.

"It was hope for the best and expect the worst," said volunteer Jill Ward. "I'm kind of not surprised. After three weeks of searching for her and finding blood on Westerfield’s sweater and in his vehicle, it didn’t surprise me. But I still had hope."

The web site set up to help in the search for Danielle has been changed into a memorial page for the Sabre Springs girl, who was kidnapped from her home 27 days ago.

*The video accompanying this story, edited by Danielle’s aunt, is a photo essay of the 7-year-olds life, set to the song, “Angel,” by Sarah McLaughlin.

3 posted on 03/01/2002 4:09:45 PM PST by FresnoDA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
bump
4 posted on 03/01/2002 4:10:13 PM PST by homeschool mama
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
I would just like to take a moment to thank you, FresnoDA. You have worked tirelessly to keep us updated and provide a place to discuss this.

It is very appreciated !!!!!

5 posted on 03/01/2002 4:12:42 PM PST by Southflanknorthpawsis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
One of the tabloids is reporting today that Westerfield told police he and Brenda had been having an affair in his home and in his RV. Granted, this is a gossip sheet. But could they print something so cruel without a reliable source in the SDPD?
6 posted on 03/01/2002 4:15:40 PM PST by Palladin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: homeschool mama
God bless this little angel...and God help the BA$TARD that did this... Prison has a SPECIAL place for him...I pray that she didn't suffer.
7 posted on 03/01/2002 4:18:27 PM PST by jaz.357
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
"closure" I hate that word. It makes it sound like the worst is over & its not. Its just beginning.
8 posted on 03/01/2002 4:19:04 PM PST by Ditter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jaz.357
Prison has a SPECIAL place for him...

So does hell.

9 posted on 03/01/2002 4:19:34 PM PST by steveo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
May God bless little Danielle's friends, who will all be affected by this tragedy; may He punish her murderer on this earth; and may He torture, exceedingly, abundantly, forever, the person(s) who did this to an innocent child.
10 posted on 03/01/2002 4:33:42 PM PST by nicmarlo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Palladin
Personally, I'll not take the words of a pedophile and murderer as truth.
11 posted on 03/01/2002 4:35:17 PM PST by OldFriend
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: FresnoDA

Let's go FReepers!
It's FReepathon time!


Free Republic is funded solely by donations from readers.
Donations and official correspondence should be mailed to:
Free Republic, LLC, PO Box 9771, Fresno, CA 93794

Support Free Republic by secure credit card.

Send PayPal direct to JimRob@psnw.com

Donations are not tax deductible.



13 posted on 03/01/2002 4:42:52 PM PST by Jen
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
"a hunch led them to the area", said the private detective who coordinated search efforts.

A hunch, or perhaps a tip?

sw

14 posted on 03/01/2002 4:45:54 PM PST by spectre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: spectre
"hunch" do you have info to share with us? perhaps a little talking by a one Mr.DW
15 posted on 03/01/2002 4:52:03 PM PST by cherry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: spectre
My money's on "tip."
16 posted on 03/01/2002 4:53:35 PM PST by MizSterious
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: cherry
Perhaps...

sw

17 posted on 03/01/2002 4:54:24 PM PST by spectre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: golitely;spectre
It's too coincidental to be anything other than a tip. You don't go back a research the same site, unless, of course, you know something.
18 posted on 03/01/2002 4:55:43 PM PST by nicmarlo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
Has this been mentioned?
Love Conquers Evil
Epidsode 17, Season 2
First Aired April 7, 2000
TV Series: Good vs Evil
SciFi Channel

Ideal Date, a dating service, is much more than it seems. The service is run by Morlocks and they have big plans to get humans to make Faustian deals using their employees. Their other main targets are the men and women who work for the Corps.

19 posted on 03/01/2002 4:57:47 PM PST by bvw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: golitely
I think it was a tip from either DW or someone else that night. We still don't know how many players there are in this game...perhaps just DW....perhaps more. As the SDPD said, it's far from over.

sw

20 posted on 03/01/2002 4:58:25 PM PST by spectre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: golitely
ANYONE...I mean ANYONE involved in child pornography should be executed.

My husband asked me if theses are just rumors about the wife-swapping parents or if it is actually NEWS?? And I couldn't answer him........I didn't foloow the story from the beginning. Anyone????? HELP!!! Please!

21 posted on 03/01/2002 4:59:02 PM PST by Ann Archy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
You've done (and you're doing) a marvelous job posting this story. I live in San Diego and listen to and call Rick Roberts daily. Monday will be the huge news day, provided that lawyer Feldman is unsuccessful in his attempt to keep the police info under seal.
22 posted on 03/01/2002 4:59:12 PM PST by onyx
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
John and ken are about to discuss the Globe tabloid allegations on KFI am 640, mentioned by Travis on the other thread.

For those not in SoCal, you can listen on the net:

here

23 posted on 03/01/2002 5:02:19 PM PST by quimby
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: spectre
It was NOT a tip! Dehesa is the LOGICAL backroad to connect with I-8 from the Silver Strand to the desert. Sheeesh.

Furthermore, Westerfield was known to frequent Syquon Indian Casino on Dehesa Road close to the site where Danielle was dumped!

24 posted on 03/01/2002 5:02:30 PM PST by onyx
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
Or this?
[THE PROCESS: Church of the Final Judgment] taught that Love conquers Evil, and thereby eliminates conflict. The basis of their religion was the book of Matthew in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). They believe in a single unknowable God; God simply "is". Jesus Christ was seen as a Unifier; Satan as a separator, perhaps created by God to test mankind. They believe in the "Law of the Universe" which is "as you give, so shall you receive". All matter is seen as sacred, because it stems from God. In its earlier days, Ministers wore large surrounding black capes to promote their "mourning the death of the world unless we change" message.

25 posted on 03/01/2002 5:03:23 PM PST by bvw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: spectre
As the SDPD said, it's far from over.

Is it just me or do you feel a message in these words? If DW is their man, what isn't "over"? I doubt they mean the trial and such. Weird !!!!

26 posted on 03/01/2002 5:03:37 PM PST by Southflanknorthpawsis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: nicmarlo
I hear what you are saying.

sw

27 posted on 03/01/2002 5:03:53 PM PST by spectre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: onyx
That's what *I* thought too.
28 posted on 03/01/2002 5:04:04 PM PST by Freedom2specul8
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
This is the part of American society that makes me sick. This compulsive mourning. 99% of these people never met this kid and never heard of her until she was kidnapped. It's sad but people need to get a grip. A couple hundred kids have been abducted since this one disappeared, where are all their rent-a-mourners?

If you wanna feel sad, cool. Pray for the kid, sure. Cry, yeah but keep it private where crying belongs. But when people come from all over the place to dump flowers on where the body was found, that's sick and the people that do it need help, very expensive psychological help. There's plenty of sad things in life without joining some TV tragedy. You wanna buy flowers and share someone's pain, go to your nearest cancer ward, you might actually be able to HELP them.

29 posted on 03/01/2002 5:05:03 PM PST by discostu
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: quimby
I think of people reading tabloids from the newsstand and wonder..when and why in the world did they become mainstream? (3 headed purple alien monster born to great grandmother)
30 posted on 03/01/2002 5:05:37 PM PST by Freedom2specul8
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Ann Archy; FresnoDA
FresnoDA has a link to some of the sources of the story so far--Fresno, can you post some of them?
31 posted on 03/01/2002 5:06:50 PM PST by MizSterious
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: onyx
"It was NOT a tip"..

So you know this for a FACT? Or is it, just a hunch that it was NOT a tip?

sw

32 posted on 03/01/2002 5:07:08 PM PST by spectre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Palladin
But could they print something so cruel without a reliable source in the SDPD?

Sure they could. Do you need a reliable source to make something up?

33 posted on 03/01/2002 5:07:44 PM PST by Tennessee_Bob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ~Kim4VRWC's~
I think of people reading tabloids from the newsstand and wonder..when and why in the world did they become mainstream? (3 headed purple alien monster born to great grandmother)

It started when he "big media" stopped reporting stories that did'nt fit their pc agenda.

34 posted on 03/01/2002 5:08:35 PM PST by quimby
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: ~Kim4VRWC's~
Oh, Kim...here you are again!

I'm signing off before we have to make peace again...nighty nite!

sw

35 posted on 03/01/2002 5:09:19 PM PST by spectre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
all ths sadness about her FATE....what does this emotionally indulgent GATHERING do? What? Why not take all this misguided voyeuristic energy and DO SOMETHING ABOUT CRIME?
36 posted on 03/01/2002 5:09:32 PM PST by Vinomori
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
The cause of death could not immediately be determined – and may never be – because of the body's state of decomposition,...

That is a crock of @#$%, anyone who has remotely studied forensic medicine knows this is a lie.

37 posted on 03/01/2002 5:09:52 PM PST by scholar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
The van Dam statement says: "our personal prayer was that god would share our little angel with everyone who helped to find her.".

nfcn.

38 posted on 03/01/2002 5:10:13 PM PST by bvw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ~Kim4VRWC's~
From John and ken, "westerfield claims he and BVD had sex both in her home and his motor home." "Gay sex films in DW home were of gay sex at the VD home."
39 posted on 03/01/2002 5:13:08 PM PST by quimby
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: golitely
Thanks!! Please FresnoDA>
40 posted on 03/01/2002 5:13:38 PM PST by Ann Archy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: quimby
From John and ken, "This will complicate the DW prosecution." "An incredibly complex set of circumstances."
41 posted on 03/01/2002 5:16:47 PM PST by quimby
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: ALL
Oh great, now Freepers are quoting DJ's reading tabloids as serious news! What an embarassment.
42 posted on 03/01/2002 5:19:20 PM PST by Valpal1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: Valpal1
Y'know what? I think you're a troll. You come on these threads, and offer nothing but insults. If you really really hate these threads so much, why do you bother to click on them? It's so easy not to be embarassed, by just choosing other threads.
43 posted on 03/01/2002 5:24:45 PM PST by MizSterious
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: discostu
I agree. It's pretty sick for a bunch of strangers to go to a murder site with teddy bears and flowers.

Take your stuffed animals and flowers to the Children's Hospital. Hug a child, take them to the zoo, but don't hang out at a murder site. Sick, sick, sick.

44 posted on 03/01/2002 5:25:09 PM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Hillary's Lovely Legs
I agree. It's pretty sick for a bunch of strangers to go to a murder site with teddy bears and flowers

I join you in this opinion. It's so affected.

I look at these people and wonder why ???????? There are tragic deaths every day in every city. Obviously because it is publicized, they jump on the band wagon. It really bugs me. Grrrrrrrr !!!!!!

45 posted on 03/01/2002 5:28:06 PM PST by Southflanknorthpawsis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: bvw
They do make some strange statements.
46 posted on 03/01/2002 5:28:13 PM PST by Canticle_of_Deborah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
Thank you, Fresno ... I welcome the intro to the Danielle threads when I return home from work every night.
47 posted on 03/01/2002 5:29:54 PM PST by BunnySlippers
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: FresnoDA
Haven't we had ENOUGH of this topic in "Breaking News"? I'm half ready to organize a freep of the March 16th public memorial service scheduled for a public beach. I've definitely hit saturation on this topic. UGH.

There was another child here in San Diego, missing since Wednesday, recovered today alive. I hadn't heard a THING about it before this afternoon. Go figure.

48 posted on 03/01/2002 5:31:11 PM PST by newzjunkey
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: spectre
LOL Hey, I consider supermarket tabloids a very poor source of ''information''. But I also agree that the media is biased against conservatives so.......there are not many valuable sources left. On the other hand, The Characters on the movie "men in black" consider them a great source of info. Whatever floats your boat! LOL I thinkt here is a story about a frog boy in kansas. I also remember something about a great grandmother giving birth to a 2 headed alien...I was standing in line at the checkout counter and they were right thereon the front page. :)

http://www.nationalenquirer.com/stories/feature.cfm
http://www.starmagazine.com/
http://www.weeklyworldnews.com/

49 posted on 03/01/2002 5:31:31 PM PST by Freedom2specul8
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Valpal1
LOL~ It's embarrassing only if you get caught reading them or buying them. It's best to say "this is for research purpose" or "I'm buying these for someone else".. :D
50 posted on 03/01/2002 5:34:01 PM PST by Freedom2specul8
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200 ... 651-660 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson