Police Search Car, Home for Missing Girl

ByABC News
February 5, 2002, 7:43 AM

Feb. 5 -- Police searching for a missing San Diego girl questioned a neighbor today and impounded his vehicle as they continued to look for clues in the 7-year-old's disappearance.

The neighbor, identified by ABCNEWS affiliate KGTV as David Westerfield, lives two houses away from the home of Danielle van Dam. Police have also seized Westerfield's vehicle, a late model Toyota SUV that was parked in front of his home. Westerfield said he was cooperating with authorities and that police have searched his home and removed several items for examination.

"I was gone all weekend," he told KGTV. "I offered to let them [police] look through everything and check it."

San Diego police have stressed that Westerfield has not been charged with a crime and that he is only one of several people they want to question. They say they have few clues and leads in the disappearance of Danielle, who police say was last seen at around 9 p.m. Friday, when her father put her to bed. On Monday, police said the case had been officially classified as an abduction and was no longer a missing person case.

"We have no reason to believe she walked away," San Diego Police Department spokesman Dave Cohen said. "We would have found her already if that was the case."

The girl was only discovered to be missing the next morning, when a friend came to visit, and Danielle's parents found her room was empty.

"I still go through the house and I look and I hope she's going to be there," Danielle's mother Brenda said. "You look in the strangest places, you know. You think you're going to open the door and see her and she's not there."

Police do 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.

Danielle's mother, Brenda van Dam, said that she and her husband had taken lie detector tests regarding their version of the weekend's events. She did not say if she knew the results of the tests.