Skip to comments.Damon Van Dam Testifies Tearfully, Fends Off Lifestyle Attack:Day 3 of Westerfield Trial
Posted on 06/05/2002 11:36:24 PM PDT by FresnoDA
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Then the vD's are at a later stage, needing even more stimulation, and closer to the actual deviant behaviour you refer to, no?
I don't agree with their choice of lifestyle, but it is their business and has zip to do with the murder of their daughter. These creeps have started coming right into people's homes taking and murdering their children. This could just as easily have happened to a Baptist minister as a couple of swingers.
By Alex Roth
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 6, 2002
Danielle van Dam's father cried on the witness stand yesterday as he looked at pictures of his daughter's bedroom and described the hysteria that consumed the household in February when the family realized she was missing.
Damon van Dam also admitted he initially concealed details about his marijuana use and sex life from police. But the 36-year-old Sabre Springs software engineer said he disclosed all the embarrassing facts after police stressed the importance of revealing everything that happened the night his daughter disappeared.
"Since realizing the magnitude of the situation, I have opened my private life up and given every detail possible to try to get my daughter back and now to get justice for her," he testified in the David Westerfield murder trial.
For the second time in three months, van Dam also testified in San Diego Superior Court about the odd occurrences in the house that night.
The family dog began whimpering shortly before 2 a.m. Feb. 2. An alarm light was discovered flashing an hour or so later. A sliding glass door was found to be slightly ajar.
At the time, none of those things tipped him off that anything was amiss in the house.
Westerfield's lead attorney spent much of his time yesterday digging into the most intimate corners of the van Dams' private life. Westerfield, 50, who lived two doors from the van Dam family, is charged with kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Danielle. Prosecutors say Westerfield, a twice-divorced design engineer with two grown children, is a pedophile.
Defense attorney Steven Feldman, however, has suggested that Danielle could have been abducted by any number of people the van Dams attracted into their home with what Feldman has labeled "risque" behavior.
Trying to advance this theory, Feldman yesterday asked van Dam a series of questions about his sex life. The father offered some answers. It will be up to the jury to decide whether any of this is relevant to the issue of who killed Danielle.
Van Dam admitted having past sexual relationships with at least two of his wife's friends, Barbara Easton and Denise Kemal. He said he had sex with Kemal in October 2000 while his wife and Kemal's husband were present.
Three other times he either had sex or tried to have sex with Easton in the presence of his wife, Brenda, he testified.
Easton, Kemal and two male acquaintances were at the van Dams' house the night Danielle vanished. Van Dam testified he and Easton briefly kissed and "snuggled" in his bed that night while his wife was downstairs. Earlier that night, he and his wife smoked marijuana with the two women, he testified.
He didn't share any of this information with police during the first intense hours of the search for Danielle, whom the couple found missing from her bed on the morning of Feb. 2.
Prosecutor Jeff Dusek asked van Dam why he didn't initially tell police about the marijuana use.
"I didn't think it mattered, and I didn't want to get in trouble for that," he said.
Dusek later asked van Dam why he initially didn't tell police about his activities with Easton that night.
"It didn't seem relevant," he said.
Van Dam cried softly several times during his testimony, most notably when he was asked to identify several photographs of his daughter's bedroom, with its pink walls, purple bedding, dangling fluffy hearts and toy box.
He said he and his wife had strict rules for Danielle and their two boys, ages 5 and 10. None of the children was allowed to cross the street without supervision or wander outside alone, he said.
Westerfield's attorneys have suggested Danielle might have occasionally wandered off the property alone, which might explain how her blood, fingerprints and hair were found inside Westerfield's motor home.
Westerfield's attorneys said he often parked the motor home outside his house and left the vehicle unlocked. The implication is that the girl might have managed to sneak inside unsupervised.
According to Damon van Dam's testimony yesterday, the night of Feb. 1 proceeded as follows:
He played video games with his sons as Danielle did some reading and wrote in her journal. At some point, Easton and Kemal showed up at the house.
The two women and Brenda van Dam went into the garage and smoked marijuana, and Damon eventually joined them, taking several puffs before returning to the video game.
About 8 p.m., the three women headed off for Dad's Cafe & Steakhouse, a Poway bar. About two hours later, he went upstairs and tucked his children into their beds one by one. Danielle had been reading to her younger brother.
"He was just getting to that learning-to-read stage, and she liked to help him learn," van Dam testified.
Danielle was already under her covers when he kissed her good night and left her bedroom, leaving the door open just a crack. He went back downstairs, watched television for 20 or 30 minutes, then went upstairs with the family dog and fell asleep before 11 p.m. He shut the bedroom door so the dog Layla, a Weimaraner wouldn't wander around the house.
Van Dam said the dog is capable of barking but doesn't because she was born on a farm where all the other dogs had been rendered mute.
He said he awoke at 1:45 a.m. to the sound of the dog whimpering in the room. He went downstairs and let the dog out back. The dog came back inside and he went upstairs and back to bed, drifting off for a few minutes until the women and two men returned to the house just before 2 a.m.
Van Dam said his wife and Easton came upstairs, then Easton settled on his bed while his wife went downstairs. He said he kissed and snuggled with Easton for a few minutes, then went downstairs to join the others.
The six adults ate leftover pizza and cookies. Eventually, about 2:30 a.m., the guests left, and the van Dams went upstairs and fell asleep.
At about 3:15 or 3:30, something van Dam said he can't remember what woke him up. He noticed a red light flashing on the security panel in the bedroom. He went downstairs and felt a cold draft near the kitchen. A sliding glass door leading outside was open 6 to 10 inches.
He closed it and returned to bed. He didn't check on the children.
"I didn't think a door being opened was that important at the time," he said.
The next morning Danielle never came down for breakfast. Brenda went up to check on her daughter, then hollered downstairs, "Damon, where's Danielle?"
"It got frantic quick after this," he testified.
The girl's nude body was found off Dehesa Road east of El Cajon on Feb. 27. Dr. Brian Blackbourne, the county medical examiner, testified yesterday that no cause of death could be established because the body was so badly decomposed and ravaged by animals.
Gunshot, blunt trauma, poisoning, stabbing and strangulation have all been ruled out as causes of death, he testified. It was, however, possible that she died by suffocation, he said.
At least one juror seemed physically shaken by autopsy photos showing the girl's blackened and badly decomposed body.
Testimony is scheduled to continue today.
By the time the information was forced out of the van Dams, the focus onto someone else had already reached a feeding frenzy.
The only person who wasn't at the Party, who socialized with BVD at Dad's BAR, was DW...and he became the scapegoat. Just perfect.
After all this testimony, could someone please explain to me how watching your spouse having sex with your friends enhances a family?
A pattern of recklessness with the children is being established here...question is...how effective is the exposure of the sex life going to be with the jury..is it even remotely possible it will overpower the DNA evidence?
It does not say that a playmate of Danielle's came to the door that morning, and it was only THEN that they looked for Danielle and found her missing.
Wasn't this the child who the van Dams were supposed to be baby-sitting?
Do you mean deliberatly withheld from the police or public?
... NOT out of fear their swinging would be exposed..remember "We regret nothing", but because they knew the conditions in their home that evening would cast suspicion onto themselves or someone at their Swinging Pizza Party.
I'm not sure..but how long did it take them to admit to thepolice what was going on 'behind' the scenes. Wasn't it within 24 hrs? The regret nothing statement is bizarre indeed. Maybe the prosecution OR defense will bring that up. It deserves an explanation...if there can be one.
I don't know how having sex outside marriage enhances the family bond? I do know, that if me or my husband ever tried it, one of us would be six feet under!
Griters do however very much appreciate observing the grifting of fellow grifters -- that's the only warm blanket they have, I think. Grifters enjoy the company of grifters and seek it out.
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