February 20, 2018 02:31 PM
This summer marks 15 years since Danny Newville disappeared in the Willmar area. The 18-year-old's parents have spent every day since wondering what happened to him. And it's a missing persons case that law enforcement got a late start on.
The passing of time has done little to ease the heartache of Russ and Lidia Newville. The Willmar couple last saw Danny in the summer of 2002.
"He got along with everybody," Russ Newville said. "I mean, you know he wasn't a fighter or caused trouble or anything like that. Except, you know, he got in with some guys that partied a little bit, and he'd get in a little trouble for that."
Lidia Newville said her son wouldn't have just disappeared.
"To be gone a few overnights, a couple nights with his friends?" Newville said. "That was normal for us. But for him to just leave and never come back? No."
Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog first heard something bad might have happened to Danny Newville on Sept. 23, 2002. They got a tip his body had been dumped near Nest Lake in Spicer, but it was a hoax.
"And the next morning we got a call from a family member kind of wanting to know what was going on with Danny, and that's when we initiated our search," Hartog said.
Detective Sgt. Kent Bauman has been on the case since day one.
"Within a few days sources said there had been a party at a residence in New London," he said.
Bauman said Newville was in jail for a probation violation. He got out and went to a party in a home at the end of a dead-end street in New London. It turns out Danny disappeared 54 days before the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office started looking for him.
Bauman said it really put them behind.
"The last people that had seen him saw him on the west end of the property," Baumans said. "To the west of here (the property) would have been the friend's house he said he was headed to next."
Danny Newville was more of a follower than a leader. He got into trouble when he was with other people, but he wasn't an instigator. Bauman and Danny Newville's parents say he was at that party with the wrong people.
"We had several sources say there were narcotics involved at the party" Bauman said.
In the past 15 years, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have followed up on more than 110 leads. They've questioned people out of state and subjected partygoers to polygraph tests. They've searched from the air, with dogs on the ground and in rivers and lakes.
Hartog said they even followed up with a psychic who contacted them.
"We got a call from a psychic and she asked if it would be alright to help us with the investigation; and at that time, we said that was fine," Hartog said. "We were looking at any means to try and find Danny, and we had her come in. And she gave us some different ideas as to what she was feeling, and we followed up on those. And unfortunately nothing -- nothing panned out with those."
"We're doing everything we can for the family," Hartog said. "Obviously none of us here want to have a case like this that's hanging out there, and the family doesn't know what happened to their loved one."
Lidia Newville believes someone killed her son.
"I believe that there was foul play that night," she said.
Russ Newville thinks somebody knows what happened that night.
"I believe somebody knows," he said.
"It's agonizing when families don't have answers about missing loved ones. They're gone physically, but still they're in your mind and heart. It's empty. It's emptiness," Lidia Newville said. "It's a life where you don't understand what happened. You don't know why it happened. And you wonder if you're ever gonna know."
Danny's disappearance hurt his parents' relationship. An Army veteran, Russ Newville re-enlisted in the National Guard and did a tour in Iraq, in part, to get away from problems at home.
They hold walks and community events every year, to give them a sense of purpose and to make sure Danny isn't forgotten.
Eventually, the pain that pushed the Newville's apart brought them back together.
"You know because we need each other" Lidia Newville said. "You know we need to find Danny, and we need to support each other."
When Jacob Wetterling's remains were found last fall, Lidia says it gave them hope.
"If it could happen for the Wetterling's it can happen for us. You know we need to have somebody come and tell us what happened. We need to know what happened to Danny," she said.
Time does not heal all wounds. Russ and Lidia Newville hope someday that won't be the case.
If you have information about Danny Newville's please contact Detective Kent Bauman at the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office at 320-214-6700.
There are resources available to provide assistance to families with missing loved ones. Find out more at the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.
Additionally, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children works to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization.