Posts made in August, 2017

Danny Newville – “Somebody’s boy”

Last week, I received a Facebook message from someone who wanted to talk to me about Danny Newville. About a month ago, she had seen a flyer about Danny’s Memorial Walk pinned to the bulletin board of a local bar/restaurant, and as she stared at it, she wondered who this young man was. She’d never heard of Danny Newville before.

She started asking questions, wondering what in the world had happened to this young man who had disappeared from her own town… and more importantly, why she’d never heard about it. That bothered her… so much in fact, that she went out of her way to learn more about Danny and his case. And that’s what led her to me.

We met for coffee, and I shared what I’d learned so far. Then, she took it upon herself to talk to some of Danny’s friends and family members to learn more about him as a person. Who WAS this 18 year old boy who disappeared from her hometown 15 years ago?

She wrote the following article, and I was so moved by it, I asked if I could share it on my blog. She said sure.

I am so thankful for her passion and her heart.

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Somebody’s boy

I grew up in New London-Spicer, but I was living elsewhere when Danny Newville went missing. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I saw a flyer in O’Neils in Spicer that I knew anything about Danny’s disappearance at all. This confused me. How did I not hear about Danny at the time that he vanished? How have I not heard about him over the years? How did I not hear anything about him after moving back to New London years ago?

When asking around, I got similar answers:

It never did turn into any big deal, I don’t remember hearing much about it.

Yeah… I think it didn’t get much publicity because he was into drugs and people like that go missing all the time.

It seemed like it wasn’t that serious… like maybe he left on his own.

This broke my heart. I didn’t hear anything about who Danny was as a person, other than an addict. I didn’t hear any theories about his vanishing until I started asking for more. I would get similar very vague answers, until I asked more questions:

But what exactly did you hear about it?

Were there any theories about what actually happened?

I began to hear a story with common threads. There’s more on that to come, in future posts written by Joy, and maybe me, I don’t know. For now, what I want to start with is Danny’s life, who he was as a person and what memories his family and friends share. When a person goes missing, the public needs to hear more than the fact that they had a criminal lifestyle. While this matters for the sake of the missing person case, addiction isn’t Danny’s whole story.

He was not “just a druggie.” He was somebody’s boy.

Danny was a friend. He was a nephew. He was a grandson. He was a son. He was a part of this community. At just 18 years old, he may not have been doing a fine stand up job of contributing positively to the world around him, but this steals nothing from his value as a human. No one can account for the many ways that people who struggle with addiction still share encouragement and help to others. There is always hope. For every person. Every addict. He was young and had positive influences in his life and potential to change and to grow the good qualities that were always there in him.

Danny was somebody’s boy.

He loved to fish. He always had a lot friends. He was gentle and caring. Despite his tendency to skip school, he got good grades because he was bright. Danny had the capacity to continue to change for the better, if given half a chance. Danny did not receive that chance. It was taken from him, as he was stolen from his family. His life, his story and his disappearance deserve the attention of any other criminal case, publicly, until all the pieces are put together for the sake of his family’s closure and to honor a fellow human being, a person, somebody’s boy.

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If you have additional tidbits or memories to share about Danny, please include a comment below. I know his family would love to see them.

If you have information about Danny Newville’s disappearance, please contact Detective Kent Bauman at the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office at 320-214-6700.

You may also mail anonymous tips to:

Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
2201 NE 23rd St, Suite 101
Willmar, MN 56201

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Where is Danny Newville?

I’ve been trying to piece together more details about the day 18-year-old Danny Newville went missing from my small town of New London, Minnesota. It happened on August 1, 2002, however, in speaking to investigators, it seems the hardest part for them is trying to piece together what happened in the 54 days AFTER August 1st.

Here’s why.

Danny disappeared on a Thursday. He had just been released from jail after serving a 45 day sentence for a probation violation. He had asked his dad, Russ, to leave his fishing pole out for him before he left for work so he could swing by and pick it up later that day.

Danny had just turned 18 a few months earlier, on May 7, 2002. Up to that point, he had been under the guardianship of his aunt and uncle who lived in neighboring Spicer, but after turning 18, Danny decided to move out and go live with his grandfather who lived just a few blocks away, on Henderson Lake. He was a legal adult, doing his own thing, and keeping his own schedule. Often, he would stay with friends without checking in with his grandfather, so it wasn’t unusual that he would be gone for long stretches of time.

On August 1, 2002, Danny left the Kandiyohi County jail and, at some point, arrived at the “party” near downtown New London. It wasn’t so much of a party as it was an all-day get-together with people dropping in and out throughout the day. According to partygoers, it was around midnight when Danny said he was leaving to walk back to his friend’s house in the Peaceful Hills neighborhood of New London. It was about a mile away and he should have been able to make it in 15-20 minutes or so.

He never made it.

Here’s a Google map that shows the general path Danny would have taken. (Note, these are not actual addresses, just general locations of where the party took place and where his friend lived.)

There is a lot of speculation as to what actually happened at the party that night, and whether Danny really did leave on his own to walk back to his friend’s house. I, myself, have heard many rumors over the years, so I decided to contact the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) last week to get an update and make sure my facts were straight.

I spoke with Detective Kent Bauman and Sheriff Dan Hartog last Tuesday, August 8th. Detective Bauman has been assigned to Danny’s case since they first started investigating it back in 2002. Unfortunately, the investigation has been particularly difficult because they got such a late start on it.

Danny was a legal adult and it wasn’t unusual for him to be “off the grid” for a few days at a time. However, when Russ noticed that Danny still hadn’t stopped by to pick up his fishing pole after several days, that’s when he started asking questions. He called some of Danny’s friends, but got the same basic answer… they hadn’t seen Danny since the party on August 1st.

Russ told me that he first made contact with Willmar Police within 10 days of Danny going missing. However, an official signed report was never filed at that time.

Authorities first learned of Danny’s disappearance when he failed to contact his probation officer in mid-August. By then, he had been missing for two weeks, but because he had turned 18 just months earlier, law enforcement could only issue an “Attempt to Locate” bulletin versus an official “Missing Person” bulletin. I asked Detective Bauman what the difference was.

“An ‘Attempt to Locate’ basically means that if an officer sees the missing person, or has contact, they would then contact that person’s family and let them know. This would be something that is done inside our jurisdiction only, and short of a ‘signed’ missing person’s report that would be put into a state/national database. Typically, an ATL is put out when the subject is not believed to be a runaway or endangered, etc.”

Then, on September 24, 2002, things abruptly changed. Fifty-four days after Danny had last been seen, Kandiyohi County Dispatch received an anonymous phone call from someone who said Danny Newville’s body had been dumped near his grandfather’s property in Spicer.

Law enforcement immediately started investigating the lead and got a signed missing person’s report from Danny’s parents. The information about Danny’s body turned out to be a rumor, but still, they brought in cadaver dogs and did air searches of the area, hoping to find some clue. Unfortunately, they found nothing. They began interviewing partygoers and giving polygraphs, but by then, the rumor mill was already churning and it was hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

Detective Bauman says that’s another part of what makes this investigation so difficult. These rumors of what may have happened to Danny Newville scare people and prevent them from talking. Most believe he was a victim of foul play, but Detective Bauman says they can’t even be sure of that. People have told him that Danny was killed the night of the party and that his body was dumped somewhere, but they can’t be sure of that either. Most people also believe that drugs played a part in Danny’s final hours, but rumors range all the way from a simple overdose, to Danny owing someone money, to Danny being a jailhouse snitch.

Here’s the deal. At the end of the day, that is not my battle. All I know for sure is that Danny’s family wants to find him, and if there’s anything I can do to help in that effort, I’m willing to try.

I asked Detective Bauman what people could do if they had a lead but were too afraid to talk. He said the best thing to do is just mail an anonymous letter to their department. They take every lead seriously, but he says they can’t just go digging up properties with a backhoe unless the information is credible and fits with what they already know. For that reason, he encourages people to be specific, even though they may absolutely remain anonymous.

Here’s the address:

Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
2201 NE 23rd St, Suite 101
Willmar, MN 56201

Finally, here’s Danny’s official missing person flyer from the Minnesota BCA. If you have any information about Danny’s whereabouts, please share. It’s been 15 years. It’s time.

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Danny Newville – Missing since 2002

Today — August 1, 2017 — marks the 15th anniversary of 18-year-old Danny Newville’s disappearance from my small town of New London, Minnesota. I first shared Danny’s story back on July 30, 2014 when a co-worker asked me to help promote the first annual Danny Newville Memorial Walk. Since then, I’ve thought many times about sharing more of Danny’s story, but it’s difficult. And complicated.

Danny’s story is different from others I’ve written about. In this case, his family and friends are sure he is deceased. There’s no hope of finding Danny alive… of that, they’re certain. But, that doesn’t stop them from searching. They just want Danny back.

Since 2014, Danny’s family has been holding an annual Memorial Walk in his honor. They start at New London-Spicer High School, then proceed across the Mill Pond, through downtown, turn right at Skindelien’s gas station, and end at Old Grey Park. It was there they planted a tree for Danny on the first year of the walk.

View a video from the first year of the walk…

This past Saturday, Danny’s family held the fourth annual Memorial Walk to honor his memory. It was a beautiful day and over 50 people attended the event. I talked to Danny’s dad, Russ, and he sent me the following photos to share.

Here’s where the story gets complicated. Danny was hanging out with a tough crowd, and on the day he disappeared, Danny had just been released from jail for a probation violation. He went to a house party near downtown New London that evening and was never seen or heard from again. He was out of jail by noon; gone by midnight.

His dad, Russ, has heard all kinds of rumors. There were drugs at the party. Danny owed someone money. Danny was a snitch. Danny OD’ed. They killed him. Hit him over the head. Slit his throat. Cut up his body. Buried him in a drain field.

It’s all horrible… which is why I never wanted to write about any of it. But, here’s the thing. Danny Newville was only 18 years old. Eighteen. He was just a kid. He’s from my own small town of New London, and he has a family who loves him and desperately wants him back so they can give him a proper burial.

I guess the least I can do is share Danny’s story here and hope to keep the conversation going. You just never know.

Russ believes some of the horrible rumors may be true, but what’s complicating matters is that people are too scared to talk. He is 100% convinced that he could find out what happened to Danny if the right person would just be willing to come forward and share what they know.

Danny was born May 7, 1984 to Russ and Cyndy Newville. He was raised by his father and his step-mother, Lidia, after Russ and Cyndy divorced in 1989. Danny also has two half-siblings on his mother’s side – Lyndsey and Ryan.

Russ told me that Danny was always very kind to people. He loved to fish and got along with everybody. When he was about 13, Danny started getting rebellious and skipping school. He fell in with the wrong crowd of people and was eventually taken away from Russ and had to live in a group home. He hated it there and ran away often.

About six months before his 18th birthday, Danny ran away and was living with a friend in New London. After he turned 18, authorities arrested him for a probation violation, and he was sentenced to 45 days in jail. On the day he was released, August 1, 2002, he went to the party and that’s the last anyone has ever seen of him.

Earlier this year, on March 5, 2017, KSTP ran the following story on Danny Newville, which was part of a series on missing Minnesotans.

http://kstp.com/news/missing-minnesotans-danny-newville-/4416240/

Danny’s mom, Cyndy, passed away in 2006, just four years after her son’s disappearance. She never recovered from the loss.

Today, Russ, Lidia, Lyndsey, and Ryan still hope for answers. More than anything, they just want their son and brother back. They encourage anyone with information about Danny’s whereabouts to please step forward. Tips can be made anonymously.

If you have any information about Danny Newville’s disappearance, please contact the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office at 320-214-6700.

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