Rush to Judgement: A Critical Examination of the David Westerfield, Danielle Van Dam Child Kidnapping and Murder Case, San Diego 2002
On Saturday morning, February 2, 2002, 7-year-old Danielle van Dam was reported missing by her mother, Brenda, who had been out partying with friends at a local bar until almost 2:00 a.m. Danielle's father, Damon, had been left behind at home to babysit their three young children, and their dog, a sleek gray Weimaraner. He said that he had put the kids to bed, cracked their doors, and fell asleep in the master bedroom, along with the dog, and with the door closed. Shortly before 2 a.m., he opened the bedroom door, and let the dog out to greet his wife, knowing she would be home soon. Some people, like KFMB talk show host Rick Roberts, began to question the parents' behavior, after it was reported in the media that they were “swingers”, and they did not check on their children, even after they said they found two outside doors open that night. Danielle's body was discovered at Dehesa on February 27. The police had almost immediately suspected neighbor David Westerfield, as he went away that weekend, leaving his garden hose lying untidily across his neat front yard. Was he responsible for Danielle van Dam's death, or was he the victim of a “rush to judgement”? What does the evidence say?• No evidence was found that he was ever in her home, nor that he had been at the body recovery site.• Why were no fibers from her pajamas or bedding found in his house or vehicles?• Had she ever played in his motor home while it was parked in their street?• Did his pornography collection include child porn?• Did he fail his lie detector test?• What is the truth about the plea deal story?• Was the body rapidly mummified by a warm dry wind that hadn't yet begun to blow? • What happened to the photographs the searchers took of the body?• Did the orange fiber in her hair come from something in her own home?• Whose hair was found under her body? It was neither Danielle's nor Westerfield's.• On February 15, Brenda received an anonymous phone call that Danielle was abused but alive. Who made that call? The insect evidence indicates she died soon afterwards.• A year later, James Selby, a convicted serial rapist, confessed in writing to killing Danielle. Was he just a “quack”? One of his victims was a 9-year-old girl, whom he abducted sleeping from her bed.This book examines these questions and many more. This was a high-profile case, with an enormous amount of public attention; the trial was broadcast live on radio and TV, so a book on it is long overdue, and this is an authoritative book. There are books with titles like “MS-DOS Bible” and “Windows 7 Bible”. This book is the Westerfield-van Dam case “bible”. It is a comprehensive reference source about the case, and a “must read” for everybody interested in it, and especially all those who were personally involved: the jurors, the police, the crime laboratory, the DA's office, the defense lawyers, the neighbors and other witnesses. This case has similarities to the OJ Simpson case, not only in the intensity of public and media attention, but also in the fact that George “Woody” Clarke was a prosecutor on both cases, and Jo-Ellan Dimitrius was a jury consultant on both, but for the defense in the OJ trial, and for the prosecution in the Westerfield trial. Did clever juror selection contribute to a miscarriage of justice in either case?David Westerfield's automatic appeal is due soon, making this book timely.
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