Parents of Missing Girl Make Plea

ByABC News

Feb. 7, 2002 -- Almost a week after she was abducted from her bedroom, the parents of 7-year-old San Diego girl, Danielle van Dam, made an emotional plea for their daughter's return today.

As an intensive manhunt for the missing girl entered its sixth day, Brenda and Damon van Dam asked for any information about their missing daughter.

"If you see her, if you can get the Web site and the phone number out, if you even think you've seen anything like her...or anything, please, pleased let us know," said Damon van Dam on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today.

Holding up a pair of white pajamas with a pale blue flower print, identical, she said, to the pair her daughter was last seen wearing, Brenda asked the public not to forget her little girl.

"My biggest hope is for someone to realize right now this has gotten big and they made a big mistake and let my daughter walk away," she said.

Danielle was last seen at around 9 p.m. on Friday, when her father put her to bed. Her mother was out with friends that night and the girl was found missing the next morning.

Police have searched the canyons and homes in the region surrounding the family's suburban home.

Speaking on Good Morning America, the van Dams refused to comment on the investigation.

San Diego police told reporters they did not consider the parents suspects in Danielle's disappearance, though no one has been completely ruled out, said San Diego police Lt. Jim Collins, the lead investigator on the case.

Brenda told Good Morning America that she and Damon had taken lie detector tests regarding their version of the weekend's events.

Difficult Days

Five days after their little girl went missing, the van Dams said the past few days had taken its toll on them but they were "holding up."

"It's hard to deal with it," said Damon. "I focus on, on working hard toget her home and get the word out so people know and help us find her."

Speaking on Good Morning America today, John Wall, host of America's Most Wanted said it was important not to give up hope. "We've gotten 23 kids back alive on America's Most Wanted, " he said. "But the harsh reality is the Justice Department says the vast majority of abducted children are found dead or killed within the first four hours."

Neighbor Hires An Attorney

San Diego police have searched the house of a neighbor, David Westerfield, and have impounded two vehicles and other property from his home. But Westerfield has not been arrested and police say he is cooperating with investigators. However, Westerfield today hired criminal defense lawyer Steven Feldman, who refused to discuss the investigation with reporters.

Westerfield was one of several people with Brenda van Dam at a neighborhood bar on the Friday night Danielle disappeared. She then returned home at around 2 a.m. for a pizza snack with two of her friends.

Westerfield told reporters he left the bar at around 10.30 pm after dancing with Brenda.

According to her husband Damon van Dam, he awoke at around 1.30 Saturday morning to let the dog out, and noticed the back door was open. He closed it and went back to bed.

On Saturday morning at around 9 a.m., while the couple's two sons — aged 5 and 9 — were watching cartoons, Brenda went to wake Danielle. She found an empty bed.

Danielle is 4 feet tall, weighs 58 pounds, and has blue eyes and blond hair. The Millennium Children's Fund, a private children's advocacy group, has announced a $10,00 reward for information leading to Danielle's whereabouts.

Anyone with information on Danielle's disappearance should call police at (619) 531-2000 or visit the Web site The family also has set up a hot line for tips at (888) 664-6664.

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