- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

SAN DIEGO (AP) Police yesterday arrested a neighbor of a 7-year-old girl who was abducted from her bedroom in the middle of the night three weeks ago. The girl was still missing.
David Westerfield, 49, was arrested for investigation of kidnapping after DNA tests confirmed that Danielle van Dam's blood was on a piece of his clothing and in his motor home, Police Chief David Bejarano said.
"I can't stress enough how strong that link is," the chief said.
Mr. Westerfield came under suspicion almost immediately in the case, and police have questioned him several times. His sport utility vehicle, motor home and other property have been impounded.
Police released no information on the fate of Danielle, who was reported missing the morning of Feb. 2 when her parents went to check on her in her bedroom.
"We are very happy that police have made an arrest. … But the fact still remains that we don't have our daughter. We still need to find Danielle," the girl's mother, Brenda van Dam, said outside the family home.
Officials said searchers were still needed during the weekend.
Mr. Westerfield, a self-employed engineer and divorced father who lives two doors down, appeared calm as he was led into an unmarked police car.
Damon van Dam, the girl's father, has said that the family did not know Mr. Westerfield well.
"He's an acquaintance. He's not a friend," Mr. van Dam previously told reporters. "We've seen him since we moved in. We wave to him. We say hello to him when we drive by."
Calls to Mr. Westerfield's attorney were not immediately returned.
Mr. Westerfield has told reporters that he saw Mrs. van Dam, at a bar near his home the night before Danielle was reported missing.
Danielle was last seen when Damon van Dam put her to bed about 10 p.m. on Feb. 1. He stayed home with Danielle and her two brothers while Mrs. van Dam was at the bar.
Mrs. van Dam came home around 2:30 a.m., then stayed up for an hour with her husband and friends. She said she made sure the children's bedroom doors were closed to keep from disturbing them but didn't check on the children.
Danielle's disappearance was featured on the crime-fighting TV show "America's Most Wanted."


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