Posts made in July, 2018

Danny Newville – His friend Morgan

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We are less than one week away from the 5th Annual Danny Newville Memorial Walk taking place on Saturday, August 4th in New London. The walk starts at 11 AM at New London Spicer High School, and continues down Main Street for about one mile, ending at Danny’s tree, planted five years ago in Old Grey Park. I’ll be there, and I encourage everyone who has followed this story to join me in supporting Danny’s family and friends in their efforts to find answers and keep the conversation going. Click the flyer for more information.

Along those same lines, I also helped Danny’s dad, Russ, set up a new Facebook page last week called “Find Danny Newville.” Please take a moment to check it out and “Like” the page in order to continue following Danny’s story and to receive ongoing updates. The address is www.facebook.com/finddannynewville.

As I near the one year mark since I started writing about Danny’s case, I have been taking the time to reach out to some of his best friends and family members to learn more about Danny and the kind of person he was.

Last week, I sat down with Danny’s good friend, Morgan, at Zorbaz on Green Lake in Spicer. We sat outside on the patio while he and a co-worker were on break from a construction job in the area.

Morgan is 37 now and owns his own contracting business in the Alexandria area. I told him that when I’d asked Russ for a list of Danny’s best friends, he’d given me Morgan’s name and told me about a tattoo he had on his arm in memory of Danny. I asked Morgan about it. He showed me a picture and explained what it meant.

“The blue cross represents peace on Danny’s soul. Red was for blood shed. The stone wall represents a grave, and a question mark for where the grave is.”

Clearly, Danny had been an important person in Morgan’s life. I asked him how they had met.

Morgan told me that in 1993, when he was 12 years old and in 7th grade, his family moved from Willmar to Spicer. He met Danny Newville at Saulsbury Beach on Green Lake, right next to the restaurant where we were now sitting. He said they hit it off right away. Danny was friendly, funny, outgoing, and liked to joke around. They quickly became friends.

Morgan’s family lived on a smaller lake not far from Green. It was a new development back then, and their house was one of the first to be built in the neighborhood. Danny would always come over and help Morgan finish his chores so they could go biking, swimming, fishing… or whatever else was on their agenda that day.

“Danny was always helping me mow the lawn, pick rocks, or rake weeds on the beach. He was kind… the type of guy who would give you the shirt right off his back. He had high hopes for his life, even though he had it kind of rough. He was always positive, never down.”

He said they rode bike together all the time with two other friends, Steve and Jason. They liked to ride the trails through the woods behind the Spicer cemetery.

Morgan was three years older than Danny, and when he was about 15, he started getting in trouble.

“I had to learn the hard way,” he told me.

Morgan moved away from the area for three years. When he returned to the New London-Spicer area at age 18, he and Danny didn’t see each other as much, but they remained good friends.

In the summer of 2002 (the year Danny disappeared), Morgan convinced Danny to move to Florida with him and another friend, Travis. Danny was all-in, but couldn’t go because he had recently been arrested for a probation violation and had been sentenced to 60 days in jail.

To this day, Morgan regrets that Danny couldn’t go with them when he and Travis left for Florida.

His younger sister is the one who told him that Danny had disappeared. Morgan had only been living in Florida for a short time, but when he found out that Danny had gone missing, he packed up his things and was back within 24 hours.

He started knocking on doors and asking questions. At one point, the police even told him to cool it, otherwise he was going to end up looking like the bad guy. So… he cooled it.

He admits it has been a long and frustrating 16 years waiting for answers. I asked Morgan what he thinks happened to Danny.

“I guess I’ve always assumed it was drug related,” he told me. But, then, almost as an afterthought, Morgan asked me something that kind of threw me for a loop.

“What do you think about that guy who killed Jacob Wetterling?” he asked me. “Do you think he could he have taken Danny?”

I asked him why he thought that.

“Because I was also attacked,” he said.

In the summer of 1997, Morgan was 16 years old and was home on a pass from the juvenile detention facility where he was staying. His younger sister (who was 13 or 14 at the time) wanted to sneak out after dark and go to a party at her friend’s house. It was about 2 1/2 miles away… a 15 minute bike ride from their house… but it was late, and she would be biking on the Glacial Lakes State Trail all by herself in the middle of the night. Morgan was worried about her going by herself, so he agreed to go with her.

When they got close to the house where the party was being held, they got off their bikes and hid them in the weeds.

“We’re only staying for a little while,” Morgan told his sister. “A half hour or 45 minutes at most.”

They left their bikes and crossed Highway 23 to get to the party. Less than an hour later, they returned to the trail and hopped on their bikes to ride home. Something wasn’t right. Morgan’s tires were flat.

“All of a sudden I heard this huge roar, and this guy tackled me off my bike and tried to stab me. He was about 5’8”, 250 pounds. He had a hunched back…  like he was bulky around his shoulders… and a hunched neck. He was wearing a dark mask. I’m sure this guy was watching us and overheard us saying we would only be at the party for a little while. It’s like he was waiting for us.”

I asked him to describe the mask. I also asked him whether the guy had tried to grope him.

“It was a full black leather mask. I felt it when I pushed his face away. I pushed back and scraped my back as I was trying to move out from underneath him because he was trying to lay on me. He made a stabbing motion 3 or 4 times downward. I had his arm and yelled for my sister to run. When I got out from underneath him, I kicked him in the face. He groaned and stood up and waved his knife at me in a slashing motion. Then he ran and dove into the woods.”

I asked Morgan if he had ever reported this story to police.

“We didn’t want to get in trouble, so we never reported it. But, some of the other kids at the party must have told their parents because someone called the police, and then the police called my mom. They came to our house and took my slashed tires for evidence. They also told us they’d found a pile of cigarette butts and candy wrappers in the woods, so it looked like this guy had probably been waiting for us.”

I passed all this information along to Detective Kent Bauman at the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. He was following up to see if he could find the original police report.

I asked Detective Bauman what the odds were that Danny’s disappearance wasn’t drug related at all. Is it possible he could have been the victim of a random act of violence?

“Nothing has been ruled out,” he told me.

So. Wow. Huh.

The things you learn when you start asking questions.

Read next… “Danny Newville — A talk with his aunt and uncle”

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

Detective Kent Bauman
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us
Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

If you’d prefer, you may also contact me using the Contact form on this site.

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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Danny Newville – A talk with the lead investigator

As I begin to wrap up my year-long blog story about the Danny Newville missing person case, I’ve been taking some time to connect with Danny’s best friends and family members to learn a bit more about him, and to gather quotes and memories from the people who knew him best. Over the next few weeks, I plan to share some of those stories as the 16 year anniversary of Danny’s disappearance approaches on August 1, 2018.

SAVE THE DATE: 5th Annual Danny Newville Memorial Walk on Saturday, August 4, 2018

Along with friends and family, another person I wanted to interview was Detective Sergeant Kent Bauman with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. He has been the lead investigator on Danny’s case since the very beginning, so I wanted to get his perspective on how he thinks the investigation is going, and whether any of this new attention has made a difference in the past year.

I was able to catch up with Detective Bauman last week and he agreed to speak to me.

I first met with Detective Bauman and Sheriff Dan Hartog last year on August 8, 2017. It had been one week since I’d published my first blog post about Danny’s disappearance, and I was anxious to meet both of them and find out more information about his case.

I found Detective Bauman and Sheriff Hartog to both be polite and respectful. While they were happy to provide general background information on the case, they made it clear they weren’t able to share any confidential details with me since Danny’s case was still an active investigation. However, they were also quick to add that they welcomed my input and encouraged me to speak to anyone who was willing to talk to me.

Throughout the year, I passed along whatever information I could on Danny’s case, often leaving out names or other identifying information whenever someone asked to remain anonymous. While I’m sure this was frustrating, I always found Detective Bauman to be open and accommodating, never pressing for information, but also encouraging me to let people know they could put measures in place to maintain a person’s privacy.

When I sat down to interview Detective Bauman last week, the first thing I asked him was whether this uptick in activity over the past year had been helpful to Danny’s case.

“100% yes,” he said.

Detective Bauman went on to tell me that the new attention to Danny’s case generated a lot of discussion and a lot of new interest in the case. Not only was he receiving information through me and my blog, but also from other people who were contacting him directly.

“Danny’s name and story began to enter people’s conversations again,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we wanted.”

Next, I asked Detective Bauman how many new leads had been generated in the past year.

He had done his homework prior to our interview, and reported that he had received 20 new leads in Danny’s case since I started blogging about it. Specifically, that means he logged 20 new items into the case file… whether those be conversations with people he’d never spoken to before, or pieces of new information that hadn’t previously been investigated or discussed.

“It stirred up a lot of stuff I’ve never covered,” he told me. “When we went back and reviewed the timeline, we also looked at other events that were happening around the same time Danny disappeared. Some were of new interest… things we hadn’t heard before.”

Going forward, I was particularly interested to know what might be helpful to the investigation.

“Continue to talk about it,” Detective Bauman told me. “Someone knows something, and as people continue to grow out of old habits and vices, maybe they have something they want to get off their chests. Maybe it’s a secret that needs to be told.”

I mentioned to Detective Bauman that most people seem to believe Danny was killed over a drug debt. In my conversations with various individuals over the past year, I learned there were a lot of local drug dealers in our small town of New London. When Danny disappeared, it seems they all started pointing their fingers at one other, and this led to a culture of fear among that generation of kids. “Keep your mouth shut or you’ll end up like Danny Newville,” became a running threat.

Detective Bauman agreed with this assessment. He added that, generationally, many of these “party kids” from the early 2000s are now adults with children of their own. He hopes that if someone does have something to share, this discussion might trigger a sense of parental instinct for them… something most of them didn’t have 16 years ago.

I wondered about this. Knowing that Detective Bauman was a parent himself, I asked him what it’s been like to work on a long term missing person’s case like this.

“It’s hard to be so attached to a case,” he replied. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and thought to myself… what about this, or why can’t I figure this out, or what am I missing? This one definitely tops the charts in that respect.”

However, Detective Bauman is quick to add that no matter what his level of frustration, he knows it’s at least tenfold for the family. More than anything, he wants to find answers for them.

“I’ve grown a lot in my job, and I’ve learned a lot with this case. It has been an unbelievably difficult case with lots of ups and downs. A lot of information has come to us over the years, and it’s my job to try and sift through what’s credible and what’s not. I’m constantly asking myself how we can verify things, because that adds strength to anything.”

As I neared the end of my list of questions, I asked Detective Bauman if there was anything else he wanted to add.

“You hear about cold cases getting solved all over the world,” he said. “I hope this is one of them. I’m still hopeful we’ll find that missing piece to the puzzle. After so many years, we all want to close this thing and provide answers for Danny’s family and friends. That’s what’s most important.”

Read next… Danny Newville – His friend Morgan

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

Detective Kent Bauman
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us
Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

If you’d prefer, you may also contact me using the Contact form on this site.

You may also mail anonymous tips to:

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

Read comments

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??)

Read next… Danny Newville – A talk with the lead investigator

 

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

Detective Kent Bauman
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us
Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

If you’d prefer, you may also contact me using the Contact form on this site.

You may also mail anonymous tips to:

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

Read comments