Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Mr. Speaker, this past week, we have been reaping the destruction of a hurricane that brought the wind and rain and flooding of a natural and national disaster. But we have been for years reaping the greater destruction of a hurricane that continues to bring the wind, rain, and floods of the effects of child predators on America. We are talking about the murder of America's children by those child predators who live among us.

The children I am referring to tonight have all been kidnapped, murdered, some sexually assaulted, and some are still missing. It is because of them, Mr. Speaker, we passed the Child Safety Act yesterday.

Tonight, I will read just a few names of those children, the roll call of the dead: Cary Ann Medlin, 8, Tennessee; Nicole Parker, 8; California; Chris Byers, 8, Tennessee; Sherrice Iverson, 7, Nevada; Amanda Brown, 7, Florida; Christina Long, 13, Connecticut; Michelle Vick, 14, Washington; Maryann Measles, 13, Connecticut; Amber Hagerman, 9, Texas; Adam Walsh, 6, Florida; JonBenet Ramsey, 6, Colorado; Danielle Van Dam, 7, California; February the 1st, 2002.

This, Mr. Speaker, is a photograph of Danielle Van Dam. She was 7 when she was abducted and murdered in California on February 1, 2002. She grew up in Sabre Springs, California. She loved coloring, playing with dolls, and writing and drawing in her journal. Danielle was a piano player and active in her Girl Scout troop. Her friends' parents described her as strong-headed, but very obedient. She loved sleep-overs with her friends. Her father, Damon Van Dam, described Danielle as a caring, studious child who adored her family.

Danielle Van Dam was last seen alive when her father tucked her into bed on February 1, 2002. Danielle's parents reported her missing the next morning after her mother went to wake her up; she was not there.

Almost a month later, Danielle's decomposed, brutalized body was found. Searchers found her on February 27 in a lot full of trash 25 miles from San Diego, California. David Westerfield was the only neighbor that was not home the morning Danielle Van Dam was discovered missing. Investigators recovered child pornography from his home. His home was two doors from the Van Dam family. This child predator lived in the neighborhood. The motive for her abduction was sexual.

Authorities also said they found traces of Danielle's blood in Westerfield's motorhome and was on an article of his clothing. He was charged with murder, kidnapping, and possession of child pornography. Two days before Danielle disappeared, she had sold Girl Scout cookies to Westerfield. He was sentenced to death, and he is currently in San Quentin on death row, where he ought to be.

There are more, Mr. Speaker. Christopher Meyer, 10, Illinois; Mary Mount, 10, Connecticut; Jeannie Singleton, 8, Michigan; Kenny Dawson, 11, Virginia; Jackson Carr, 6, Texas; Troy Ward, 6, Utah; Brittany Lochlear, 5, North Carolina; Bradley Lions, 6, Washington; Brianna Jackson, 5 months, Alabama; Tommy Gibson, 2, Oregon; Rosy Tapia, 6, Utah; Rosie Gordon, 10, Virginia; Richard Stetson, 11, Maine; Jeralee Underwood, 11, Idaho; Samantha Runnion, 5, California, July 2002.

Samantha, like all of these others, Mr. Speaker, was a real person. She was a real child that lived in America. She was a beautiful and bright and joyful little girl. It is said she loved to read and write stories, paint, draw, play with guitar, sing, and dance. Most of all, she loved to play games with her family and friends. She liked Peter Pan and Hercules. She approached each day as a new adventure, eager to learn and play. She looked forward to growing up, being a teacher and a mommy.

Samantha was playing a board game with her 5-year-old friend when a man drove up. The two children were seated on a short wall about 150 feet from Samantha's home. The man got out of his car next to the girls and asked them to help him find his dog. Samantha and