David Westerfield at death-penalty hearing. "You're going to know that I failed this test, because we're not working to get David...to the point where David passes the test .... That's not your goal."
On February 4, 2002, two days after the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, the San Diego Police Department's polygraph expert Paul Redden administered a lie detector test to David Westerfield. The test could not be used as evidence in Westerfield's recent trial, and its contents had remained hidden from the public until Judge William Mudd ordered the 155 pages of its transcripts released last week. The following has been excerpted from those transcripts.
Paul Redden: Okay, here's what we're doing today. I'm gonna go through and explain the polygraph to you....
David Westerfield: Okay.
PR: So you will easily understand, if you lie you get caught.
DW: Um hum.
PR: That's what this test's all about....
PR: So first off I need to know, is David a liar or not?
PR: Is that true? David is or is not a liar.
DW: No, I'm not a liar.
PR: Okay, you don't look like one.... Okay, there [are] four components that I'm going to attach to you...and they're lying on the table right there in front of you.
DW: Um hum.
PR: The first two are the pneumo tubes. That's the tube...with the chains. One goes around your stomach, one goes around your chest. They are measuring your respiratory functions.
DW: Makes sense.
PR: Next component is the GSR, acronym for galvanic skin response. Two finger plates will be attached to your fingers and measure your skin response, basically sweating.
PR: Final thing is the cardio-cuff, just like a blood pressure cuff, measures increases or decreases in blood pressure.
PR: Your pulse rate and the strength of your heartbeat.... All of the questions in the exam will be yes or no answers. I'll ask you a question; you'll say yes or no.
DW: So you don't want an explanation?
PR: No, we'll...cover all that ahead of time.... Okay, let me explain how a polygraph works, so this thing will kind of make sense to you.
DW: Um hum.
PR: A polygraph works on your autonomic nervous system. And these are areas you can't control, no one can control.
DW: Um hum.
PR: When a person attempts deception or tries to lie, things happen inside our bodies that we have no control over.... You can lie to everybody else in the world, but you can't lie to yourself.
PR: But human nature, we like to tell stories, and we like to exaggerate stories. The fish gets bigger and bigger, so to speak.
DW: Um hum....
PR: The difference in a polygraph situation, if [I] ask a question that you're gonna lie to me about, that wall's gonna...look like [the] movie screen of your life. You're gonna see it just like the day it happened. You know you're lying, that little guy's up in your head saying, hey, that's not the truth. Now you know I know that you're lying, because I'm measuring these physiological things that are going on inside.
DW: Um hum....
PR: Did you have anything to do with [Danielle's] disappearance?
PR: Okay, do you know where she could be located right now?
PR: Okay, so you're no way involved in this thing.
DW: No, huh-uh. I -- your just asking me that question upsets me, but no.
PR: What do you think should happen to the person or persons -- there could be more than one involved here -- that are responsible for the disappearance of Danielle?
DW: I think they should be taken out and shot immediately.
DW: But that's not -- I know that they'll get...three to five years, you know, five to ten, something like that.
DW: It's not a hard-and-fast rule.
DW: I think that they, you know, people that...hurt the innocent are bad people.
PR: Okay. Can you think of any reason...?
DW: Because the innocent are innocent.
DW: You know what I'm saying?
PR: Particularly children are very innocent.
DW: ....They're very trusting.
PR: Okay, questions are about to begin. Is your first name David?
PR: Do you believe me when I promise you I won't ask a question we haven't gone over word for word?
PR: Regarding whether or not you yourself are involved in the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, do you intend to answer truthfully each question about that?
PR: Regarding the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, do you suspect anyone in particular of being responsible for her missing?
PR: Regarding the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, do you know for sure who is responsible for her missing?
PR: Other than what you told me, during the first 40 years of your life, do you remember ever lying to anyone who loved and trusted you?
PR: Regarding the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, are you yourself in any way responsible for her missing?
PR: During the first 45 years of your life, do you remember ever hurting anyone when you were drunk or angry?
PR: Regarding the disappearance of Danielle van Dam, do you know her whereabouts at this time?
PR: Are you afraid I'll ask a question we haven't gone over word for word?
PR: That concludes the first test....
DW: That's the hard part?
PR: That's the hard part.
PR: 'Cause now I...know, and you know that I know, and...that's the hard part. And now you're gonna help me resolve this thing.
DW: Um hum.... Did I, did I pass?
PR: No, you did not pass my test. And I don't think that surprises you....
DW: It does surprise me. Well, part of it's in my past.
PR: You are somehow involved in the disappearance of Danielle van Dam?
DW: No, I'm not. I mean, I'll take the test over again.
PR: Well, let me show you what I've done today, okay?
PR: And then I'll even show you the charts.
PR: Um, I don't know if I told you or not, but...this... software program has a built-in scoring algorithm.
DW: Okay, I know what an algorithm [is], all right, it's a mathematical...
DW: I'm getting upset. I failed the test?
PR: You failed the test....
DW: Now, was it because of the questions or is it something I did wrong?
PR: I'm gonna show you.... And the algorithm gives us a probability score.
PR: And it's right there in big bold letters. It says what, David?
DW: Well, it says, "deception indicated."
PR: Probability of deception is greater than...what?
DW: Ninety-nine percent.
PR: That's right.
DW: On all of the questions?
PR: No, not all the questions. Because if you move down right here where my finger is...the question, "Did you have anything to do with the disappearance of Danielle van Dam?"...it shows 100 percent. "Are you personally responsible for Danielle van Dam's disappearance?" It shows 100 percent.
DW: I'm more than willing to take the test over again. I didn't expect to fail....
PR: Now, you're not an examiner, but you're gonna be able to see these...
PR: They're that dramatic.
PR: The lines that you're looking at, the top two lines are your breathing, the middle line is the GSR, the thing on your fingers, and the bottom line is your cardio.
PR: When I ask you this question about Danielle, your blood pressure goes crazy. That's 25 seconds from here to here.... And the next question, it does the same thing as previously....
DW: Well, look at this one right here. What was that question?
PR: Okay, that's...good. I'm glad you pointed that out, 'cause you can see that. 'Cause that is the other question about Danielle. And you can see what happens to your blood pressure now.
DW: I didn't even know her name was Danielle.
PR: Okay, yes you did, because we've been talking about that for a couple of hours.
DW: Well, yeah, no, but I... Well, up until...
PR: Well, but you know who I was talking about.
DW: Yes, I did, yeah....
PR: Here is the question about Danielle again. And see this, see the thing here?
DW: Um hum.
PR: And then your blood pressure falls, and then here's the other question about Danielle, and even that is a huge blood pressure reaction. That is a tremendous blood pressure reaction....
DW: Look...how high those are.
PR: Which ones?
DW: These, these.
PR: Oh, this one, yeah, you're right. That's very true, man, that's a question about Danielle.
DW: Oh, I thought that was about...but every time you ask me a question, my blood pressure's going down and then with every question it goes back up again.
PR: It goes up right on the ones about Danielle. Now let me come show you something a little more...dramatic ... 33 is: "Are you in any way responsible for her missing?" And look what happens to your blood pressure.
DW: So why didn't it go up when I... If I was going to lie, why didn't 47-C go up?
PR: Because...47-C says, "During the first 40 years of your life, do you remember lying to...anyone who loved and trusted you?"
DW: Oh, I see....
PR: Okay, but I've given you a type of winding road. I've given you questions that deal with your name, with your early periods in life, with the questions about Danielle.
PR: That question about during the first 40 years of your life, that you've lied to somebody who loved and trusted you. I have no question in my mind that you've done that. So you know what, David? I already know that you're lying to that question, but you're not reacting to it.
PR: The question that you focused on was Danielle. Now the next question here is...that you pointed out, "You know where she could be located at this time?" And you can see what happened....
DW: What was 48-C again?
PR: Forty-eight was over the hurting...[were you] hurting anyone when you were drunk or angry?
PR: And you can see it dropped off the scale.
DW: Um hum.
PR: We'll go back to...the first chart....
DW: Well, I lied about that one, and that's...one of the questions that I wanted to ask you about.
PR: All right.
DW: And why did it drop off the chart? That's what I don't understand.
PR: The reason it dropped off the chart is because that question didn't mean anything to you....The questions that you're concerned about in my test are the questions about Danielle.
DW: Well, I'm concerned about that, yeah. So that would cause my blood pressure to go up anyway. I'm concerned about that....
PR: Don't you think that the parents would be more concerned?
DW: Oh yeah, big time....
PR: And I tested one of the parents. Passed this thing with flying colors. One of my partners tested the other parent. Passed with flying colors.
DW: But didn't they have any concern? There was no...it was a flat one?
PR: They passed the test.
DW: Um hum. Well, I'm trying to learn.
PR: Okay. There have been numerous other people that are somewhat connected to this family that we have tested, and everyone up to this point has passed the test. The only person who has failed on this test...
DW: Is me.
PR: Is you.... David, I am confident in my own mind that you're not being up front with me. But I'm also willing to talk with you. Now I'm gonna point something out to you in my notes that I made a very significant note about when we were talking.
PR: And you don't know that you did it.... And what you said to me at that point was...pulled off the side of the road, you ate, you showered, and you said, "we" were at Warner Springs. What you just told me was that there was somebody else with you.
DW: There wasn't anybody else with me.
PR: There was somebody else with you. Otherwise you don't say, "we."
DW: I didn't say...if I, if I said, "we"....
PR: You said, "we," 'cause I can play the tape back and show you...
DW: That's fine.
PR: ...where you said, "we."
DW: If...I said that...and I'm not gonna say I didn't say it, it's one of those mix-ups I use in my head.
PR: Freudian slip is what we call it.
DW: Well, no, it's just that it...sounds like a lie, but it's not.
PR: David, things happen. We don't know why things happen.... I don't think you went out trying to hurt this little girl at all. But something went wrong and you gotta help. We gotta help this family. You can't let this go.
DW: But, but she...you, you as a professional, and I'm a professional, I would tell you about stuff, ah, in my area of expertise. As of right now, you think I'm guilty of something?
PR: I think you are somehow connected with the disappearance of Danielle van Dam.
DW: Okay, well, I'm more than willing to take the test over again....
PR: Why...do you think you had trouble with my questions?
DW: Um, I have no clue.
DW: You say that the parents passed, and they had, you know, when you mentioned the word "Danielle" to them, they didn't get...a spike like I did.
PR: Not even close, not even close.
DW: Okay, up until today I didn't know her name.
PR: But you knew who we were talking about, so...
DW: So physically why would I have a response that way? Even...more on those two questions, why would I have a response like that?....
PR: But one of the disturbing calls that we have about David is David and the campground at the Strand.
DW: What about the campground at the Strand?
PR: Ah, there was a call that you were seen with a little girl.
DW: Somebody is lying to you, because there was nobody there with me.
PR: Is that because you had already gotten rid of her?
DW: No, I'm saying that there was nothing there to see. There was just me. I watched a little TV, I sat out front, I was putzing around, I ate lunch.
PR: David, have you ever heard the old story, the old saying of when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging?
PR: It just gets deeper and deeper.
PR: You're in a hole right now.
DW: Well, I...and this test put me there.
PR: No, that test didn't put you there, you put you there... We gave you four tests.
DW: And I failed on those questions all four times?
PR: All four times.
DW: Well, that's not good.
PR: No, it's not good.
DW: And I don't know how to explain it....
PR: There's got to be an explanation. If we were to open the door right now, and there was a German shepherd dog there with his teeth showing and growling and snapping at you....
PR: ...your blood pressure's going to go up a little bit, isn't it?
PR: Same thing happens here. If I ask you a question that's threatening to you, which is basically the same thing -- the dog snarling and barking at you, or the question being a threat to you because it's a threat to your well-being....
DW: And I don't know why I'm failing the test.
PR: Um hum.
DW: Okay. Honestly, I don't know why I'm failing the test. But I would tell you that I need to stop. Is it my right or isn't it my....?
PR: Of course it's your right, when I can stop....[do you want to] talk to a lawyer? Did you like talking to Moe and....?
DW: Well, they're policemen. They're on your side. I need somebody on my side. You're telling me to talk to someone else who's on your side. And I need to find out if...what you're telling me, that no one ever, no one has ever had that kind of a jump on a question and failed the test and was...later proven innocent. And I'm telling you that I know I'm innocent and that the test is flawed in some way.... But what I'm looking at is that I'm walking out the door, and you're going to know that I failed this test, because we're not working to get David...to the point where David passes the test .... That's not your goal.
PR: No, I can't resolve what's going on here....
DW: Try to find out what's going on here, right?
PR: ...what caused that reaction....
DW: I would tell you that the only thing that I was concerned about was the fact that the little girl was missing.
DW: And that, believe me, that means a lot to me. I have a daughter...but I can't believe that you asked these same kinds of questions to the mother and father and they didn't jump up and down at all.
PR: Believe me.