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Neighbor of Danielle Van Dam to be Arraigned on Kidnapping Charges

Aired February 23, 2002 - 07:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: In California, a neighbor of Danielle Van Dam will be arraigned Tuesday on charges of kidnapping the 7-year- old girl. Police arrested David Westerfield yesterday. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has more on the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): David Westerfield is described as a friendly neighbor, an intelligent man who let local kids swim in his pool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I knew, he was a perfectly fine guy, you know.

GUTIERREZ: Now the mechanical engineer, with two grown kids of his own, is in handcuffs for the disappearance of the little girl two doors away, 7-year-old Danielle Van Dam.

CHIEF DAVID BEJARANO, SAN DIEGO POLICE: We arrested David Westerfield, 49 years of age, for the kidnapping of Danielle.

GUTIERREZ: Westerfield has been at the center of the investigation since Danielle's disappearance three weeks ago. All the while, he made comments to the media...

DAVID WESTERFIELD: This is going to be on TV. Can I put my hat on, at least?

GUTIERREZ: ... laughed with police, and allowed them into his home while his vehicles were impounded and boxes of potential evidence taken away.

BEJARANO: At this point, we don't have a motive...

GUTIERREZ: Friday morning, DNA lab results came in, and police say they got their big break.

BEJARANO: Danielle's blood was found in an article of clothing which belongs to Mr. Westerfield, and also in his motor home.

GUTIERREZ: Investigators say Danielle's DNA, found on the clothing in her bedroom, confirms the match.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to make a statement first, and then we're going to have questions.

GUTIERREZ: Her parents, Damon and Brenda Van Dam, say they only want their daughter back.

BRENDA VAN DAM, DANIELLE'S MOTHER: We are very happy that the police have made an arrest. We were forewarned it was going to happen. But the fact still remains that we don't have our daughter. We need to continue searching for Danielle. That's the most important thing.

GUTIERREZ: David Westerfield will be arraigned on Tuesday, charged with Danielle's kidnapping. His lawyer says he intends to try his client's case in court, not in the news media.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, San Diego.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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