Danny Newville – Getting real

I apologize. I know these posts have been few and far between lately, but I promise, I haven’t been slacking. Since my last post, I’ve been talking to a lot of people and trying to piece things together.

I’ve learned a lot… little tidbits here and there that have started to form a clearer picture of the life Danny was leading before he disappeared. Mostly though, I’ve learned a lot about New London… this town where I live… my peaceful little “City on the Pond.” As it turns out, things were not so peaceful here back in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Just to recap… Danny Newville was allegedly last seen in the early morning hours of August 1, 2002 at a house party near downtown New London. He had just been released from the Kandiyohi County Jail that previous afternoon, after serving a 45 day sentence for a probation violation. He had turned 18 a few months prior (May 7th), so this was the first time Danny had ever served time in the adult prison.

In talking to one of Danny’s close friends, he asked me why Danny had been in jail in the first place… what was he in for? I told him that Danny’s father had told me it was for a probation violation, but I realized I didn’t know exactly what that violation was. I also didn’t know why Danny had been on probation at the time. I said I would check.

Danny’s friend went on to tell me that, in 2001, when he was 18 and Danny was 17, Danny had stolen a van and the two of them had gone joyriding in it. From what he could remember, the van belonged to a friend’s grandmother, and she knew Danny had taken it. However, when Danny hadn’t returned it after several days, it was reported stolen. Because he was only 17 at the time, Danny served time at the juvenile detention facility in Willmar for theft. His 18 year old friend was charged with harboring a stolen vehicle and had to serve time at the adult jail.

It seemed logical that this would have been the reason why Danny was on probation, but I decided to confirm this with Detective Kent Bauman at the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. He was unable to tell me Danny’s exact violation since it had occurred while he was still a juvenile. For the same reason, Detective Bauman was unable to tell me exactly how Danny had violated his probation. All he could legally tell me was that Danny had “failed to comply with the conditions of his probation,” meaning, he hadn’t followed the rules the judge had set for him. This could mean something as minor as failing to show up at a mandated meeting with his probation officer, all the way to getting picked up on a criminal charge. From what his friends have told me though, it didn’t seem like it was anything all that serious. He had only served 45 days, after all.

I asked Danny’s friend what he thought might have happened to Danny. He said he always figured it was drug related. He told me he had talked to Danny that day… the same day he got out of jail. Danny called him from the “party house,” sometime between 2:00-3:00 PM. He said he was just hanging out, and didn’t seem stressed about anything. One thing though. His friend did mention that Danny’s energy level was high, making him wonder whether Danny was “doped up” at the time he called him.

I wondered about this. Danny didn’t have a job, so if he was getting high, how was he paying for the drugs? His buddy had the same question. He wondered if Danny was possibly fronting drugs for someone.

OK… so, let’s talk about this “party house” for a moment. One of the people who lived there at the time has been very candid with me. Yes, there were underage kids who partied there. Yes, there were drugs being used there. And yes, there were even drugs being sold there. People came in and out at all hours, and to outsiders, it looked sketchy.

But for insiders, this house was a refuge. It was a place for friends to gather when they needed a place to stay, to get some food, or to feel safe. These were scrappy kids who learned at a young age to depend on themselves. Some came looking for a meal because there was nothing to eat at home. Some came to escape physical or verbal abuse. Some just wanted to hang out with friends who accepted them. But, one thing was always abundantly clear… these kids all had each other’s backs.

So… now let’s go back a few years earlier… to 1996. It was just before midnight on Friday, May 17th, and there was supposed to be a fist fight out at the ballfield by the DNR ponds. It may have started over a busted car window, but who knows. Whatever the case, things escalated quickly.

That same night, a fifteen year old girl was babysitting her two nieces (ages two and four) at her brother’s place in the Peaceful Hills trailer park. Suddenly, shots rang out from a car outside. The trailer was sprayed with bullets from a .22 caliber rifle and the girl was shot once in the abdomen and once in the hip.

The kids who were at the ballfield waiting for the fist fight to begin heard the shots and ran toward them. They followed the “snake trail” through the woods and arrived at Peaceful Hills faster than those who had jumped in their cars and driven there.

Read the article from the May 20, 1996 edition of the West Central Tribune

The girl lived. However, to this day, she still has a bullet lodged in her liver because it was too dangerous to remove surgically.

Things got scary after that. According to the girl who got shot, “everyone wigged out” and the stakes suddenly got much higher for this scrappy group of survivors.

So where was Danny in this mess? Nowhere. He was only 12 years old at the time, going to school and playing with his friends, just like any other 12 year old.

But, let’s be honest. Things weren’t all rosy for Danny and his family either. That same year, one of Danny’s uncles was convicted for drug trafficking and was sentenced to 132 months in federal prison.

A year later — when Danny was 13 — he started getting rebellious and skipping school. His family worried that he might be hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Also in 1997, drug enforcement officers raided the “party house” in New London, looking for drugs, guns, and other illegal activity. They found nothing. It would be five years before they returned again, this time looking for a missing 18 year old boy named Danny Newville.

Next time… a few theories…

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

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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