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

 

12 Comments

  1. Joan f winter |

    Heart breaking. Brought tears

  2. Wow is right. Did this guy attack Morgan before or after he went knocking on doors asking about Danny? If it was after then it sounds like Morgan might have knocked on the wrong door. Have the police done any kind of testing on the cigarette butts or candy wrappers? This is really scary, this guy wanted to hurt Morgan. I’m glad he didn’t.

  3. joy.the.curious |

    Anne, Morgan’s attack happened in 1997, five years before Danny’s disappearance.

  4. Just wanted to let you know I am still reading, since the days of Jacob! I am sure that others are too. Keep on going Joy! When I read this, it felt like you are really on to something. I had to google how far apart New London and Paynesville are apart. They are only 14 miles apart. It never made sense that Jacob was the only one who he killed in all those years.

  5. Joy, Josh Guimond also went missing on 11/9/02 from Collegeville MN. Collegeville is only 21 miles from Paynesville. There were other college students who went missing at this time as well. The parents definitely always thought it was more then a drunk college night. For some reason, I always paid close attention to those stories, just being out of college myself. Something never made sense to me about those stories. I always thought it was more too. Could Danny Heinrich of been a serial killer?

  6. joy.the.curious |

    annonymous,
    When I first started researching Danny’s case, I did ask Detective Bauman about the possibility that Danny’s disappearance and Josh’s disappearance could be related. He told me that when Danny went missing, they did follow up with investigators on Josh’s case and sent the information they had on Danny. I do realize this is a long shot, but as Detective Bauman said, nothing has been ruled out.

  7. Joy, I really think you are onto something. Morgan’s incident had so many similarities to the Paynesville incidents. (Night, bike, mask, knife, male victim, laying in wait, and attackers body type.) Also, the Glacial Lakes Trail and Hwy. 23 link Cold Spring, Paynesville, New London, and Willmar.

  8. I am sure you know all of this, but Danny Heinrich’s dad died in 2002, which could be a trigger. Then he moves away from Paynesville in 2003.

  9. One episode of “In the Dark” that strikes me every time is S1, E9. At the 23:11 mark, the narrator talks about all the times that Heinrich called the police himself, for whatever reason and it’s quite possible it was to make an actual claim about something. However, I’m always skeptical because Heinrich did not have an alibi for the Wetterlng abduction. I feel like he learned from his “mistakes” that way. I don’t think a man like him could just stopped after Jacob. He may have just changed his targets to young men. Joy, I’m curious if you can dig into all of the complaints that Heinrich made to police himself, much like that narrator did? It’d be interesting to cross check those dates -the actual dates (vs “in 2003”) and see if they line up with significant dates, like the day Newville went missing. Were they valid complaints to police or is it possible he was building an alibi?

  10. joy.the.curious |

    annonymous,
    Yes, I wondered that, too. Thanks for your comment and for following along all this time!

  11. I don’t know what Danny Heinrich’s sentence was, but has anyone asked him if he committed more murders? If he has nothing more to lose, he might be willing to talk.

  12. @Linda, as part of his plea deal with investigators, they were not allowed to ask Heinrich about any other attacks. It’s possible he might get questioned as part of another investigation. Who knows. But there seems to be some interesting connections developing.

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