The parents of Danielle van Dam say people who want to honor the memory of the kidnap-murder victim do so at a San Diego park, not at the site where the seven-year-old´s body was found.
Hundreds of people stopped at a remote roadside yesterday, where the child´s body was found after searches lasting more than three weeks. Stuffed animal toys, flowers, cards, pictures and wind chimes were left by some of the visitors. Some planted flowers. A four-foot-high white cross was set up. Some visitors prayed as they knelt in the dirt, near an area of trees where volunteer searchers found the body on Wednesday.
Late yesterday Danielle´s parents said they do not want their daughter´s memory honored at a sad place. The statement by Damon and Brenda van Dam said: “Our hope is that those who wish to pay respect to Danielle´s memory do so at the place where she often played.´´
Traffic in the area where the body was found, about 25 miles east of San Diego, became so heavy yesterday that the California Highway Patrol closed the south side of the two-lane rural road.
One visitor to the roadside, 14-year-old Angel Musacara of Chula Vista, said she asked her grandparents to bring her there. She said of Danielle: “Her soul and spirit is here, and it is the right place to remember her.´´
A mother from nearby El Cajon with two twin daughters said: “Our kids have watched this story from the beginning to end. They know the crime. They need closure, too.´´
A van Dam family friend said a public memorial service for the second-grader will be held at 10 a-m on Saturday March 16th at La Jolla Shores.
A neighbor, 50-year-old David Westerfield, plead innocent to charges of murder and kidnapping on Tuesday, one day before the body was found.