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Girl, 7, Missing From Home Is Feared Abducted

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police on Monday said they had no clues and no suspects in the disappearance of a 7-year-old girl reported missing by her parents Saturday from the family’s home in an upscale neighborhood here.

“It’s a mystery,” said police spokesman Dave Cohen. He said the case is being treated as an abduction.

At their home in the Sabre Springs neighborhood, Brenda and Damon van Dam issued a tearful plea for the return of their daughter, Danielle van Dam.

“We have no enemies,” Damon van Dam said. “We have no idea who would want to hurt our family.”

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His wife added, “It’s a nightmare. We just want her back. That’s all that matters.”

The couple described Danielle as 4 feet tall and 58 pounds, with blue eyes and blond hair. She was wearing blue pajamas with a flower pattern when her father, a software test engineer at Qualcomm, put her to bed at around 10:30 p.m. Friday, police said.

Damon van Dam said he found a sliding glass door in the family room open several hours later.

Brenda van Dam told police she was with friends at a bar until 2:30 a.m. Saturday and did not check her daughter’s room when she returned home. Her husband had remained home with Danielle and the couple’s two sons. Danielle’s disappearance was not noted until 9 a.m. Saturday, the parents told police.

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Searchers from several law enforcement agencies scoured canyons near the family home Saturday and Sunday. The search was scaled back Monday, although helicopters and tracking dogs were still in the area.

Police were concentrating on interviewing neighbors and others. Fliers with the girl’s picture were posted throughout the neighborhood and in nearby Poway.

Damon van Dam has worked for four years for an engineering firm under contract to Qualcomm’s satellite division. He was set to take the family to Italy this week on a business trip.

The parents said that, at the request of police, they took a lie-detector test. Cohen declined to confirm that such a test was given.

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The case has traumatized the neighborhood, 25 miles north of downtown San Diego. A neighborhood park has a banner with pink and purple ribbons that says: “Hurry Home Danielle. We Miss You.”

A phone line has been established for anyone with information: (888) 664-6664.


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