Danielle van Dam Remembered 10 Years After Disappearance

Brenda van Dam Talks To 10News About Life 10 Years After Daughter Disappeared

It was a case that shook San Diegans to the core.

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On Feb. 2, 2002, a 7-year-old girl was taken from her Sabre Springs home in the middle of the night. She was found dead in the East County several weeks later.

Ten years after Danielle van Dam's disappearance, her mother, Brenda van Dam, spoke to 10News about her life since that devastating tragedy.

"I feel like I missed out on so much," van Dam told 10News Thursday from the law office where she now works.

"She'd be graduating this year from high school," she said. "That's really hard. Just not knowing what she would be like."

On a day that's too painful to think about, van Dam instead focused on the joy her daughter brought to her life. But she also recalled the panic when they found her empty room.

"Damon and I, we didn't know what to do; when your child is taken, you have no clue what to do," said van Dam. "All we could think of was she's probably across the state line. We need to go national with this. I want the world to know that's she's missing."

A month later, her petite body was found off Dehesa Road in a remote area of El Cajon.

The van Dam's have since moved out of that Sabre Springs neighborhood. But it was their then 50-year-old neighbor David Westerfield who was arrested outside of his attorney's office and charged with Danielle's kidnapping and murder. He is currently on death row for those crimes.

Even to this day, it's hard for van Dam to say his name. Instead she calls him "a monster."

"I think it would be nice if he confessed," she added. "But I know they have the right person."

She said in their hearts they celebrate Danielle's life instead of focusing on this date.

"We choose to celebrate her birthday because it's positive and it's beautiful," she added.

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