Danny Newville – The snake trail

As we near the 16th anniversary of Danny Newville’s disappearance on August 1st, I’m going to start wrapping up my blog story about his case. Over the next few weeks, I plan to do a wrap-up interview with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, as well as a tribute piece with quotes and memories from Danny’s friends and family. If you would be willing to share a few thoughts for this story, please send me a private message on my Contact page. I look forward to hearing from you!

Click to download PDF

Also, I want to remind everyone to put Saturday, August 4th on your calendar for the 5th Annual Danny Newville Memorial Walk. I’ll be there, along with Danny’s dad, stepmom, and several of his friends and family members. We’ll meet at New London Spicer High School at 11 AM and walk to Danny’s tree at Old Grey Park in downtown New London. I know Danny’s family would love to see a big crowd, so if you can, please join us and show your support! Click the image of the flyer on the right to download a PDF that you can print out and share. Thanks everyone!

OK… now on to the snake trail.

If you read my previous post titled “Danny Newville – A few theories,” you’ll remember that Theory #4 spelled out the possibility that something might have happened to Danny while he was walking to his friend’s house around sunrise on Thursday, August 1st.

Personally, I like this theory best because it seems to fit with what everyone has been telling me over the past year. According to witnesses, Danny left the “party house” during the early morning hours of August 1st. After cutting through the backyards and coming out to the main road, Danny would have either taken Highway 9 north to County Road 148, then turned left (west) and continued on his way until he got to the trailer park.

However, there was also another possible route that Danny might have taken that day. In 2002, there was a shortcut between downtown and Peaceful Hills that started behind the baseball field on First Avenue, and wound around the tree line and across a field, ending at the trailer park. The kids called it “the snake trail.”

Danny’s route if he would have taken the snake trail

So, just 25 days out from the date of Danny’s disappearance on August 1st, and under similar weather conditions, I decided to walk this route myself and see if I could re-trace Danny’s steps.

I first went to Google Earth and looked at a current satellite view of the area.

Imagery date 4/28/2015

Next, I accessed the historical imagery area of Google Earth to see what the same area would have looked like on August 1, 2002. Here’s a satellite view from May 31, 2003, less than one year later.

Imagery date 5/31/2003

As I walked the route with my black lab, Zoey, I took some video along the way and tried to figure out where Danny might have cut through to get to the trailer park.

As we walked, I also tried to imagine where Danny might have run into trouble along the route. Did someone jump him on his way to his friend’s house? Was he being followed? Did someone see him walking and offer him a ride? Was he forced into a car?

The more I imagined, the more questions I had.

How many people had cell phones in 2002? When Danny called his friend for a ride, did he call from a landline or a cell phone? If he called from a landline, was it a cordless phone? Is it possible Danny’s call could have been intercepted by a portable scanner? Was someone lying in wait for Danny somewhere along the route? If someone “got him” on his way to Peaceful Hills, was it drug related? Was he fronting drugs for someone? Behind on a debt? Was he taken, beaten, and accidentally killed? Was he taken, beaten, and intentionally killed?

Or… what if Danny Newville’s disappearance wasn’t drug related at all? And if so, where does that leave us? I’ll try to tackle that question next time.

For now, take a look at the video and let me know your thoughts. I’m especially interested to hear from any former neighborhood kids who actually did walk this path back in the day. (Where did you cut through??)

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