Child Killer Hinted At Suicide

Actor Woody Harrelson poses with moviegoers dressed as zombies at a special screening of the film "Zombieland" at the AMC Empire Theater on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, in New York. AP

Convicted child killer David Westerfield hinted during an interrogation with detectives investigating the kidnapping of Danielle van Dam that he wanted to kill himself, a videotape released Tuesday revealed.

"Would you like to be left alone?" one of the detectives asks him on the tape, made during an interrogation last February, just days before he was arrested for the slaying of his 7-year-old neighbor.

"If you want to leave your gun here, I would appreciate it," replied Westerfield.

"My life is over," Westerfield tells the two detectives at one point.

Superior Court Judge William Mudd agreed to release the tape and hundreds of pages of documents related to the case after lawyers from The San Diego Union-Tribune and other media pressed for them to be made public.

The tape, made three days after Danielle was reported missing, shows Westerfield sitting in a small room fielding questions from the detectives, who pleaded with him at one point to admit to the crime and disclose the location of the girl's body.

"You're asking me to admit to something and as far as I'm
concerned I didn't do it," he replied.

Westerfield never provided the information and the girl's nude body was found weeks later by volunteers.

Westerfield was sentenced Friday to death for Danielle's kidnapping and murder.

"Things are falling apart around you," Detective Michael Ott tells Westerfield at one point on the tape.

"They've already fallen apart," Westerfield responds. "...As far as I'm concerned my life is over. The life that I had, the life that I was living is over."

"But you can't blame anybody for that but yourself, Dave," Ott replies.

"And I have no problem with that," Westerfield says.

The exchange was the closest Westerfield came to admitting he kidnapped and murdered the girl who lived two doors away.

Jurors never saw the videotape after Mudd ruled that some of Westerfield's statements could not be used against him because detectives had violated his rights.

"Is this being videotaped and recorded?" Westerfield asked.

"Yes," replied a detective.

"You didn't tell me that before," said Westerfield.

Later in the interrogation, Westerfield suggested he be left alone for a few minutes with one of the detectives' guns.

"That's silly," Detective Mark Keyser responded.

"Why is that silly?" Westerfield asked.

When detectives questioned him about child pornography found on computer disks in his home office, Westerfield said it was downloaded accidentally off the Internet.

"I guarantee to you that children wasn't something I was interested in looking at," he said.

Westerfield also asked several times for a lawyer toward the end of the 45-minute interrogation, saying he was tired and hadn't showered or changed his clothes in almost two days.

He complained about being "abused" and said that "nobody is looking out after David's rights."

He also said he would have been inclined to be more cooperative if police had treated him better from the start.

The documents Mudd agreed to release will be available Monday, but more than 250 pages that touch on juror identities, witnesses, evidence not presented at trial and some allegations of police misconduct will remain sealed.

An appeal of Mudd's decision to withhold those documents is pending before the 4th District Court of Appeals.
  • Francie Grace

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