Police arrest neighbor in case of missing San Diego girl - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Police arrest neighbor in case of missing San Diego girl

Updated:
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A missing 7-year-old girl's neighbor was arrested for suspicion of kidnapping after the girl's blood was found in his motor home, authorities said.

David Westerfield, a 49-year-old self-employed engineer who lived two doors down from second-grader Danielle van Dam, was taken into custody Friday. He was expected to be arraigned Tuesday.

DNA tests completed Friday confirmed that blood in Westerfield's vehicle and on a piece of his clothing was Danielle's, San Diego Police Chief David Bejarano said.

``We are extremely confident of the DNA link,'' he said.

The parents planned searches for Danielle on Saturday in two remote areas of eastern San Diego County. Authorities say she was abducted from her bedroom three weeks ago.

Bejarano would not offer any details about what may have happened to the girl and would not discuss why she was kidnapped.

Westerfield's attorney, Steven Feldman, said he will likely ask a judge to impose a gag order on everyone involved in the case.

``We certainly intend to mount a vigorous defense but we don't wish to try the case in the media,'' Feldman said.

Police have questioned Westerfield several times in the case. His sport utility vehicle, motor home and other property has been impounded.

Police said Friday that child pornography was found in his home.

Police have no conclusive evidence that Danielle is still alive, but Bejarano said he remains hopeful.

``As a father, I'm optimistic that at some point we will find Danielle,'' he said. ``On the law enforcement side of it, we all know that the opportunity is less and less every hour, every day that goes by.''

The van Dams characterized Westerfield as an acquaintance to whom they waved and exchanged greetings.

Westerfield, a divorced father of two, has told reporters he saw Danielle's mother, Brenda van Dam, at a bar near their home the night Danielle was last seen. He said he left the bar around 10:30 p.m.

Danielle was put to bed by her father, Damon van Dam, about 10 p.m. He stayed home with Danielle and her two brothers while Brenda was at the bar with friends.

Brenda 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 was discovered missing at about 9 the next morning.

Residents of the van Dams' upper-middle-class Sabre Springs neighborhood in San Diego expressed relief over the arrest.

``I definitely feel safer, but I don't think I'll sleep until she's found,'' Kathy Kelley said as she played with her two young sons in the neighborhood park.

Danielle's disappearance was featured on the crime-fighting show ``America's Most Wanted.''
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