Posts by joy.the.curious

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.

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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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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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