Leana Navarrete of Escondido has read a lot of Internet bulletin boards discussing the van Dam case. "I've read a lot of people condemning them, saying they are swingers, and I've read a lot of people defending them, saying they aren't. All I know are rumors. The only facts I've heard is that this lady Barbara came in and jumped on his bed and was kissing him. So I assume that if he was okay with that, then I would assume that he is okay with being with other women. Personally, I know one or two people who use drugs recreationally, but none that I would consider amoral people. I don't know anyone who is a swinger. I think their lifestyle had a direct effect on her disappearance, but I believe it had a direct effect on how well they watched their children. I think that if the person who committed the crime knew of this lifestyle, he may have known that they would not be around to protect their children at that time. If the person who committed the crime knew about it, it might have effected him pulling it off. I don't think the parents need to be investigated by Child Protective Services. I've seen worse situations where people have literally beaten up their children and not been investigated. I think that they were good parents. They were involved in the kids' sports, Brownies, Girl Scouts, you know, all that stuff. I think they were suitable parents. I assume Damon didn't check his kids because he had put them to bed and saw that they were in bed, and Brenda trusts her husband, so she didn't feel the need to check. The father should be just as responsible for them as the mother is. I think, according to the DNA evidence, that Westerfield's attorneys have a really hard job to prove that he didn't do it. It's really incriminating evidence."
Chris, who did not want her last name published, lives in Rancho Peñasquitos, right across the 15 freeway from Sabre Springs. "Sure, I've read that they were swingers and all those things." She reports the number of people she knows who use recreational drugs or engage in swinging as "zero." While she is aware of their lifestyle, Chris says that it had no effect on the disappearance of their daughter. "From the way it was described, it points to the fact that they kept it a very separate issue from their parenting. Based on what I know, I wouldn't report them as unfit parents. But I have no idea why they didn't check their children before going to bed that night. I thought that was extremely bizarre. I think he's [Westerfield] going to be found guilty. There's enough evidence."
Raylene Kaaisubish from Pauma Valley has a contradictory take on the van Dams. "They were pretty good parents from my point of view. They took care of their children, and they love their kids. You're talking to somebody who knows a lot of people who do recreational drugs, but nobody that I know of is into swinging. But their partying had something to do with her disappearance. If they weren't doing what they were doing that night, she wouldn't have been kidnapped. I think they should just let them grieve. I mean, they lost their daughter. They were probably tired, and their dad tucked them in, so that's probably why they didn't check on their kids. Somebody -- David Westerfield -- is going to be convicted."
Rick Hanson of Escondido says he's read a lot of rumors about the van Dams. "Specifically, they were swingers. Personally, I know of no one who uses recreational drugs or is involved in swinging. I think their lifestyle had something to do with it. For one thing, they weren't paying very good attention to their children. The other thing is, people who get involved in that sort of thing aren't exactly normal, and their friends aren't either. I think they should be investigated by Child Protective Services. Frankly, from what she testified, it wasn't normal what was going on in her house that night. They were under the influence of something, and, frankly, it doesn't sound like they were too interested in checking on their kids. I think Westerfield is involved, and I think there will be more coming out about the parents."
John Walsh, 20, of Escondido has heard similar rumors about the van Dams' lifestyle. "I heard they like to party. The mom smokes pot. They were swingers. Nothing too credible. I know quite a few people who use recreational drugs, but I haven't met any swingers yet. From what I heard, the next-door neighbor was jealous because he didn't have a partner for the swinging. I think that had a part in it, because he got jealous because he didn't have a wife. He got angry at them and, I guess, took it to the next level and kidnapped their daughter. I agree totally that Child Protective Services should investigate them. Since this first started, I think they've had something to do with it or were doing something wrong, because Mrs. van Dam didn't show very many emotions when the case first came around. It seemed like the neighbors were more involved in her disappearance than the mother was. They probably didn't check on their children that night because they were wasted. They're not really great parents. I hope that the neighbor who committed this serves life or death, and the parents should be investigated. They hold some responsibility for what happened to their own daughter."
Valencia Facchini of Scripps Ranch says that all she knows about the van Dams' lifestyle is rumors. "Just that they were swingers. I probably know about six or eight people into recreational drugs. I know two people who are into swinging. I don't think their lifestyle had anything to do with the kidnapping, though. I feel she really loved her daughter, and I don't think she would have exposed her daughter to that. Maybe they should be investigated as parents. But the father put the kids to bed and they were buzzed, and the kids were already in bed. I think something's going to come out of it -- I think the mom knows David Westerfield better than she's saying. I don't know if she's having an affair with him or not, but I think he's going to be convicted."