Posts by joy.the.curious

Danny Newville – His last day

I’ve been thinking a lot about the last day Danny was seen before he disappeared. After speaking to so many different people, I’ve wondered what was going on his life, what his immediate plans were after getting released from jail, and what thoughts were going through his head on that day. After trying to piece together all those conversations in order to recreate his last day, I think I still have more questions than answers.

Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together so far.

On Wednesday, July 31st, Danny was released from the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar after serving 45 days for a probation violation. He had just turned 18 a few months earlier (May 7), so for the first time, he was serving out his sentence as an adult at the county jail versus Prairie Lakes Juvenile Detention Center.

I’ve wondered what was going through Danny’s head on the day he entered that jail. Danny’s physical stature was small and slight, and he was by no means a hardened career criminal. I’m sure he was terrified at the thought of having to spend 45 days at the adult jail. I’ve been told he was a good-looking young man, but the drug addiction was beginning to take its toll. He had lost a lot of weight in recent months, and the dark circles under his eyes spoke volumes about his lack of sleep.

On the day Danny was released, Wednesday, July 31, he called a friend to come and pick him up at the jail. She lived at the house where the alleged “party” would take place later that night, and she recalls that it was sometime between 1pm and 2pm that she picked Danny up and brought him back to her house.

The home where Danny was last seen, as pictured in a March 2017 news story on KSTP

I wondered about this, too. You’d think after being in jail for 45 days, Danny would have wanted to go home, take a shower, and sleep in his own bed. But, maybe Danny made this decision because “home” was a fuzzy term for him during this time of his life. He had spent the previous two years living with his aunt and uncle in Spicer, but after turning 18 in May, he had moved in with his grandfather at his home on Henderson Lake. More often than not, though, Danny would stay at his friend’s house in the Peaceful Hills development in New London. Maybe he was stir crazy and just wanted to see what was shaking. Maybe he was lonely and wanted to catch up with his friends. Who knows, but it surprised me that he wouldn’t want to get dropped off at home first… wherever “home” happened to be.

Some time around 2pm or 2:30pm, Danny called his dad, Russ, and asked him to leave his fishing rod out by the garage so he could swing by and pick it up later that day. (It was that fishing rod that gave Russ his first clue that something might be wrong when Danny hadn’t been by to pick it up after a few days.) I asked Russ where Danny was when he made this call, and he said it was from his grandpa’s house on Henderson Lake. I’m not sure how he got there or when he left. Still working on those details.

According to Danny’s friend who picked him up from jail:

“It was my older 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 friend’s house. He wanted to walk, so he did. He cut through our backyard, which was next to his friend’s Grandma’s place. That was the LAST time we saw him”

I wondered why he wanted to walk. Was it a beautiful summer day?

I decided to check Weather Underground. It turns out Wednesday, July 31, 2002 was extremely hot and humid in Minnesota. By 3pm, the temperature was almost 90° and the dew point was in the 70s. That’s oppressive. Who wants to walk in that kind of heat when they can get a ride instead?

If you look at the chart below, you’ll see that the heat and humidity continued throughout Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. For Minnesota, it is incredibly unusual for the temperature to remain at 80° throughout the night. By our standards, that’s HOT.

Weather Conditions

DateTime (CDT)Temp.Dew PointPrecipConditions
Wed 7/31/200211:53 AM80.1 °F73.0 °FN/AMostly Cloudy
Wed 7/31/20022:53 PM89.1 °F72.0 °FN/AScattered Clouds
Wed 7/31/20025:53 PM90.0 °F72.0 °FN/AScattered Clouds
Wed 7/31/20028:53 PM84.0 °F73.0 °FN/APartly Cloudy
Wed 7/31/200211:53 PM80.1 °F72.0 °FN/AScattered Clouds
Thu 8/1/20022:53 AM81.0 °F69.1 °FN/AClear
Thu 8/1/20025:53 AM79.0 °F70.0 °FN/AMostly Cloudy

Source: https://www.wunderground.com

Some of this might explain why Danny didn’t show up to get his fishing rod that day. Understandably, it was too hot to even go fishing. Instead, it seems Danny decided to return to “the party house” at some point.

I’m not sure of the timing here. According to Danny’s friend who picked him up from jail, there was no party at her house that night. But, according to several other sources, there definitely was a gathering of some sort. People who were there told investigators that Danny left on foot sometime between 5:30am and 6am on Thursday, August 1.

I checked the sunrise on that date. The sun came up at 5:57am CST, so it would make some sense that Danny would wait for daylight before leaving to go back to his friend’s house. Again, partygoers said that Danny cut through the backyard, heading west toward Peaceful Hills. From what I’ve read, many of these people have been polygraphed, so the story seems pretty verifiable.

And, so… that would mean Danny did not die at the party. That is contrary to almost every story I’ve heard over the past two months. It seems most people believe Danny was killed at this so-called “party,” most likely over a drug debt.

From there, the urban myths get pretty horrible. I’ve heard Danny was beaten to death. Danny was dismembered. Danny was burned alive. Suffice it to say, Danny’s disappearance has been used to spread a culture of fear throughout our small community for the past 15 years. Young adults who were part of the drug scene when they were kids were regularly told, “Be careful or you’ll end up like Danny Newville.” I’ve heard this more than once.

So, what REALLY happened to Danny Newville on August 1, 2002? If he left the party on his own, where did he go? Did he O.D. and pass out somewhere? Did someone pick him up? Did someone follow him, kill him, and dump his body?

Danny’s friend told me about a shortcut between her house and Peaceful Hills.

“There was a shortcut to the trailer park. If you go down 2nd Avenue, over by the ball fields… there are houses back there now, but back then there was a gravel road. You’d go along the edge of the DNR property, and that would take you to a “snake trail” that went all the way to the trailer park. All the kids knew about the snake trail. You could get to the trailer park in five minutes instead of 15 minutes by road.”

She wondered if the land around the “snake trail” had ever been searched. I thought it was a good question, so I reached out to Detective Bauman and asked him. He said yes. They searched that area by foot, by air, and with cadaver dogs. I was also told by a DNR officer that the lake behind the “party house” had also been dragged.

Unfortunately though, all these searches didn’t start until 54 days after Danny went missing. Admittedly, that really put investigators behind the eight ball.

So… that’s what I’ve been able to piece together so far. In order to take this any farther, I think I need help. If you can provide more details, fill in gaps, or correct any misinformation, please leave a comment below or contact me using the online form.

———-

If you have a tip about Danny Newville’s disappearance, please contact:

Detective Kent Bauman:
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us

You may also mail anonymous tips to:
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
2201 NE 23rd St, Suite 101
Willmar, MN 56201

Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

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Danny Newville – Radio interview

A few weeks ago JP Cola, News Director at Lakeland Broadcasting, contacted me and said he was putting together a news story about Danny Newville. He wondered if I’d be willing to do an interview in order to raise the profile of Danny’s case, and hopefully generate some new leads.

I was happy to oblige, so last Wednesday, I stopped by the radio station in Willmar to visit with JP and discuss Danny’s case. He mentioned that he had also spoken with Detective Kent Bauman at the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, so I’m hopeful the added attention will help shed some new light on the case. Things have definitely slowed down in the past few weeks, so I’ve been at a bit of a standstill. Thanks to JP for helping to keep the conversation going!

The interview will begin airing on Tuesday, October 24.

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JP Cola, KWLM

Radio interview with JP Cola — Lakeland Broadcasting, Willmar, MN

August 1st marked the 15th anniversary of the disappearance of 18-year-old Danny Newville of New London. The case is getting new life thanks to blogger Joy Baker of New London. After her involvement in the Jacob Wetterling case last year, Baker says she decided to focus on the Newville case in her blog called “Joy the Curious”…

 

(To play, click far left side of black bar.)

…Witnesses told the Sheriff’s Department that Newville was last seen at a party in New London on August 1st 2002. He left the party on foot, reportedly to go to another person’s house, but never arrived. Baker says Newville’s friends and people who might know something are older now, and she hopes they feel like getting it off their chest…

 

 

…Baker first wrote about Newville in 2014, and then again August 1st of this year and has done half-a-dozen updates since. Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Department Detective Kent Bauman says since Baker got involved, tips have started picking up…

 

 

…Bauman has been working the Newville case since the very beginning and after what happened with the Jacob Wetterling case, he hopes this one too will come to a resolution…

 

 

…Any information on the Newville case can be called in to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Department at 235-1260, 24-hours-a-day. If the info pertains to Newville, it will be forwarded to Bauman. Baker says she would be willing to be an intermediary, if necessary. Go to joybaker.com or joythecurious.com. Baker blogged about previously forgotten child molestation cases in the Paynesville area in the 1980s that eventually created a link to Danny Heinrich, who confessed to killing Jacob Wetterling in October 1989. Last year Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

———-

Contact Detective Kent Bauman:
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us

You may also mail anonymous tips to:
Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office
2201 NE 23rd St, Suite 101
Willmar, MN 56201

Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

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Danny Newville – an update

In my last post, I mentioned that the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office had received an anonymous letter and was hoping to reach out to the author so they could get a few more details. I’m happy to report that… thanks to your help in sharing that post… the author did indeed reach out to Detective Kent Bauman and he was able to gather additional information for Danny’s case. Great job, everyone!

I asked Detective Bauman if he could provide a brief update on the investigation. I was curious as to how many tips they’ve received and whether any of this extra attention was helping the case. Although he wasn’t able to share much, he did mention that they have received 10 additional leads since I started blogging about Danny’s story and his case remains an active investigation.

Wow! Ten leads may not sound like much, but those are ten leads they didn’t have two months ago. And, equally important, they were generated by everyday people like us who simply care about this 18 year old boy, took the time to learn about Danny’s case, and shared his story across the Internet.

That’s powerful.

There’s a word for this new phenomenon. It’s called “crowdsourcing,” and it can be an incredibly effective tool in this day and age. However, it can also be a slippery slope for investigators who are just now learning the power of this brave new medium.

This Sunday, October 1st, CBS is premiering a new TV show called Wisdom of the Crowd. Here’s a quick rundown from the CBS web site:

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Wisdom of the Crowd is a drama about a visionary tech innovator who creates a cutting-edge crowdsourcing app to solve his daughter’s murder, and revolutionize crime solving in the process. Inspired by the notion that a million minds are better than one, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jeffrey Tanner, develops “Sophe,” an online platform for publicly shared information he’s certain will find his daughter’s killer. To assist him, Tanner recruits Detective Tommy Cavanaugh, the original cop who investigated the murder but was unceremoniously forced off the case. Working with them is Sara Morton, a brilliant engineer whose relationship with Tanner goes beyond professional; Josh Novak, a talented, nerdy-cool head programmer; and Tariq Bakari, a tech genius and expert hacker with issues adhering to the rules. Concerned with Tanner’s obsession is his successful ex-wife, Congresswoman Alex Hale, with whom he shares an unbreakable bond over their shared grief. As Tanner taps into the “wisdom of the crowd,” his unexpected success fuels his determination to solve even more cases than just the one that’s personal to him.

———-

I’ll probably tune in to the show and check it out. I’m especially curious to see how they’ll present the pitfalls of crowdsourcing… of which there are many. Speaking from experience, I’ve learned that crowdsourcing can quickly lead to witch-hunting if speculation is allowed to prevail over simple common sense and decency. The public is a powerful force – especially when combined with social media – and the results can be devastating if mob mentality begins to take over.

I guess what I’m saying is… keep an open mind. More often than not, a simpler solution is better then a more complex one. Or, as any good detective will tell you, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”

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

Detective Kent Bauman
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us

You may also mail anonymous tips to:

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

Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

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Danny Newville – A request from the Sheriff’s Office

I was contacted by Detective Kent Bauman from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office last week. Since I started writing about Danny’s story on my blog, they received an anonymous letter that they would like to follow-up on. Unfortunately, they can’t because it’s anonymous.

Detective Bauman asked if I would let the author of this letter know that they are very interested in speaking to him/her in order to get a few more details. He requested that this person please contact him between 8am-4pm, Monday through Friday, at 320-214-6700, extension 3315. And, he wanted to assure this person that he/she could remain anonymous. They will absolutely honor and respect that request.

Beyond that, I have heard from a lot of people over the past few weeks… so much so that my head is spinning from all the details. There are conflicting reports of what may have happened to Danny, so it’s hard to distinguish rumors from fact.

Here’s the short list of what I’ve heard.

  • He was killed at a party.
  • There was no party.
  • He left town and moved to a different state.
  • He was hit in the head with a baseball bat.
  • He was hit in the head with a shovel.
  • He was given bad drugs.
  • He was buried with a backhoe.
  • He was buried at a construction site.
  • He was buried in someone’s back yard.
  • He was buried in a bog.

It goes on and on. At the end of the day, I have no idea what happened to Danny Newville, but someone does. If you are that someone, please take a moment to reach out to Detective Kent Bauman at the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. Even if you feel your information is insignificant, please take the time to reach out anyway. They can make that determination on their end.

Detective Kent Bauman
Phone: 320-214-6700, x3315
Email: 3315@co.kandiyohi.mn.us

You may also mail anonymous tips to:

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

Facebook Messenger:
https://www.facebook.com/Kandiyohi-County-Sheriffs-Office-471311649587923

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Danny Newville – From a friend

For a month now, I’ve been writing about Danny Newville, an 18 year old boy from New London, Minnesota who disappeared on August 1, 2002. I call him a boy, even though at 18 years old, I realize he was actually a legal adult. But, still… to me, he was just a boy… a boy who was struggling to find his path.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people over the past few weeks, and it feels like the floodgates are finally starting to open a little here in New London. Maybe it’s because the kids who knew Danny are now parents themselves and can understand the kind of pain his father feels. Or, maybe it’s because enough time has passed that people are less afraid and more willing to share what they know. Either way, I’m hopeful that by sharing Danny’s story, answers will soon come for the Newville family.

In talking to people, I’ve noticed some common themes that have begun to emerge. Danny Newville’s story isn’t just a missing person’s case. It’s about a kid trying to find his way in a world of “haves” versus “have-nots.” It’s about addiction, fear, failure, and disappointment. It’s about bad decisions, and slippery slopes.

But, one thing this story is NOT about is giving up. Danny Newville was a boy who loved his family and friends. He wanted to live… he deserved to live.

Last week, I spoke to a close friend of Danny’s who gave me a glimpse of who this young man really was. We spoke for almost 45 minutes, and after I hung up, I felt like I’d been given a gift. Suddenly, the story I’d been writing about for the past four weeks took on a whole new meaning. It wasn’t about a young career criminal who was the victim of a drug deal gone bad. It was about a kid who just wanted to fit in.

Here are the parts of our conversation that stuck out for me.

Danny talked about how hard it was to fit in when you’re one of the ‘poor kids.’ He wanted so badly to be accepted by the jocks and the popular kids, but that seemed to be a line he would never be able to cross. He talked about a time he was at a bonfire when he was about 15 years old. The girls were always really nice to him… he had a lot of buddies who were girls. But it was the jocks and the popular boys who’d say, “What the F__ are you doing here?” It was very emotional for him.

When he got into drugs, that made things even worse. The popular kids now labeled him a “druggie,” so they tried to push him away even more.

The last time Danny’s friend saw him, he was just skin and bones and had big bags under his eyes. She was really worried about him and said, “What the hell Danny? You look like shit.” He looked up at her with these deep soulful eyes that said “Here’s another person I’ve disappointed.” Then, he started to cry.

This cut me to the quick. I asked her if she ever felt Danny was suicidal. Was it possible he had taken his own life? Absolutely not, she told me. He was very attached to his friends and family, and especially to his grandpa. He would never have done that to them.

So… what happened to Danny after he left that party on August 1, 2002? Not knowing is the hardest part. His family and friends need answers.

I’ll admit that when I first started writing about Danny Newville’s case, I did so more out of obligation than want. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get involved with another sad story… wasn’t sure if I could handle it. But here was a kid who was missing from my own small town. It had been 15 years. His family deserved answers. I should write about it.

But now, the more I learn about Danny Newville and the kind of person he was, it tears me apart. Danny was sweet, kind, and special to so many people. He was just a kid who was trying to fit in, trying to get it right, and trying hard not to disappoint his family and friends. He was a kid who deserved to grow up, to learn from his mistakes, to get well, and to be happy. Just like all of us.

He deserved to live.

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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