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 60 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 Wednesday, July 31, 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 this so-called “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.

Read next… Danny Newville – “Somebody’s boy”

6 Comments

  1. Corrine Erstad & Josh Guimond would also be interesting MN missing persons to delve into.

  2. Mona Peterson |

    This is sounding scarier and scarier and the fear the people have makes me sick and I’m not even family!

  3. Joy, first of all it’s so nice to see you back. I hope the option the police have provided of sending in a totally anonymous tip will lead to something helpful. That’s the best way I could think of for someone who knows something to tell the police and still stay safe. The amount of people in this world who sit on terrible secrets at other’s expense is disheartening, maybe this will help change that a bit.

  4. As a long time pedestrian in lieu of using a car, one thing jumps right out at me when I look at that map: it’s a straight shot along the route Danny was planning to walk. That is *not* good news for a pedestrian, particularly at night. Drivers tend to build up speed along straight routes; curves and turns slow (most) drivers down.

    So my first speculation would be that Danny was hit by vehicle and, instead of calling 911, the driver panicked and decided to hide his body. The driver may have been driving impaired (party all day tends to have that effect).

    I doubt that Danny died of an overdose because if he had, his body would have been found quickly.

    If there is some way to search vehicle registration records to figure out the vehicles in that county that were registered before August 2002 but not registered the following year, then compare it to the list of people thought to have attended that party, that might pop out a few matches which might or might not lead somewhere.

    Personal bias: I had a friend in the late 1970s who was at a kegger held at a place about 3 miles out of town. He had a falling out with the person he’d gotten a ride to the kegger with and decided to walk back to town. His body was found in a ditch the following morning and he had clearly been run over (tire track visible on his body). He may have been hit twice because the coroner saw some indications of head trauma that were not completely consistent with the injuries from the injuries from the tire track over his body but it was not clear enough to say definitively that he had been struck twice.

    The part of the road he was found along had narrow shoulders, it was late at night and the speed limit was 50 mph. Here’s the thing: the driver of the vehicle that hit him has never been identified. Law enforcement at the time believed that his body was in the road and someone rolled his body into the ditch.

    There were no brake marks on the road and my friend was wearing a black leather coat with blue jeans and a dark stocking cap (late fall and it was chilly). It was probably an accident, maybe involving an impaired driver, but there’s no way a driver could have hit him and not realised it. A body is a huge bump to roll over, much larger than the sorts of speed bumps used to slow down drivers in parking lots.

  5. The Guimond disappearance has never been solved. I can only imagine his parents anguish,

  6. I’m so tired of no one listening to a few of the facts. It wasn’t a party nor an “all day get together”. I know this because I was the person who picked danny up from jail. It was my home that he was in. It was my brother and I home that day… that’s it. Danny sat and chatted for about 30 minutes… then said he was going out to his buddy’s house. He wanted to walk, so he did. He cut through our backyard, which was next to his buddy’s grandma’s place and then was on county road 9 heading north. That was the LAST time we saw him. People claim we had something to do with it… which is nothing more than bullshit. People need to start telling the full truth instead of casting blame because there aren’t answers. We miss danny too… he was our friend. We have told this information to anyone over and over. Nobody listens. Beyond that… I have never heard anyone investigate the rumors that danny called from montana shortly after disappearing. Please stop making the story sound as if myself or my family did anything wrong.

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