Sunday, April 28, 2013


     Yesterday I outlined The Curious Disappearance of Dylan Redwine, a young teenager who disappeared in the vicinity of Bayfield, CO in November 2012.  Despite a vigorous search effort, including forensics analysis of Dylan's father's property, Dylan was never located. The most promising lead seemed to be search dogs finding a scent at the Vallecito Reservoir, a local lake. Preliminary searches of the lake by sonar and divers in December did not uncover any further traces of Dylan. With the deepening winter, the reservoir soon froze over, prohibiting further search.  It has only been within the last couple of weeks that the ice has receded far enough that authorities can resume the search of the reservoir.

From the Durango Herald on April 24, 2013:

Investigators with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office failed to discover new leads in the Dylan Redwine case after searching part of Vallecito Reservoir Tuesday and Wednesday.  Search dogs picked up a scent a few days ago at various points along the reservoir shoreline below Middle Mountain Campground, and dogs’ hits prompted the two-day search.

     The searchers constructed a temporary dyke extending out into that portion of the lake and pumped out the water in a confined area as part of the search this past week.


     Although the physical search was hampered by the cold winter weather, the Redwine case did take a rather bizarre twist during early 2013. In an effort to "get the word out" about Dylan, the family reached out to news organizations and television.  The good news is that they received an invitation to appear on a nationally syndicated television progrsm.  The bizarre news is that the invitation was from Dr. Phil McGraw, host of 'Dr. Phil', a pop-psychiatry spin-off of Oprah Winfrey.  The feature aired as a two-part segment in February 2013. 

     As reported in the Durango Herald, during the first segment, Dylan's divorced parents Mark and Elaine squared off with Dr. Phil as moderator.  The estranged parents soon exchanged accusations of blame.

During the televised interview, Elaine repeatedly insisted that Mark had something to do with their son’s disappearance, and Mark – when he was not on the defensive – stated his unsubstantiated but strong belief that his wife was involved.

“I believe that his mom could have something to do with this,” said Mark, before noting he had no evidence to corroborate this hunch. “She was very quick from the beginning to start pointing fingers at me ... there’s a possibility that she could be keeping him from me.”

Also reported in the Durango Herald, during the second segment, Dr. Phil challenged Mark Redwine to take a polygraph test administered by Dr. Phil's world renowned polygraph experts [ed.=who knew Dr. Phil had polygraph experts?].  Mark had already participated in a polygraph test administered back in Colorado and there were no apparent concerns raised by that test.  Dr. Phil proceeded to badger Mark about his refusal to take another polygraph test in that venue. During the session this exchange occurred:

At one point, Dr. Phil made this offer to Mark: “If you have your son stashed somewhere, or if, God forbid, you flew into a rage and you hurt him accidentally and he's dead, if something has happened, I will help you deal with it now, and we will go recover that young man right now. … But my offer has a shelf life.”

Mark declined.

“Just know that I offered,” said Dr. Phil.

“I'm not involved in this no matter how I come across. I'm not involved,” said Mark Redwine

     I can understand the dilemma faced by the family, wanting to help spread the word in the hope that somebody somewhere knows that one critical piece of information thaat will help them find their loved one. The sad fact of the matter is that there are thousands of missing persons stories, and unless there is a salacious or scandalous 'hook' the national media just does not have an interest in covering them  (e.g.- Natalee Holloway and Paige Birgfeld).  The producers on 'Dr. Phil' did not promote the story as a distraught family seeking the public's help in locating their lost son.  Instead they ran a promotional spot titled, "Who's To Blame", and then Dr. Phil tried to bait Mark Redwine into revealing something incriminating.  I would not be surprised if Dr. Phil was hoping for a flat out confession.  Imagine the ratings boost if that had happened.  I hope Dylan's parents both took a cleansing hot bath with lots of soap after appearing in that venue. 

Here is a little taste of Dr. Phil's style.

     The Curious Disappearance of Dylan Redwine remains unsolved and his official status is still "Missing".  If you have any information related to this case, please contact the La Plata County Sheriff's office at (970) 385-2900 

Saturday, April 27, 2013


     Late in 2012, Colorado had another high-profile disappearance. 13 years old at the time, Dylan Redwine went missing in the vicinity of Bayfield, CO, in the Four Corners region of the state.  The Durango Herald has been following the story closely.  A slideshow and video timeline of the case can be found here.  Other early news reports of Dylan's disappearance are here and here.

Here's a brief re-cap of the story. 

Dylan Redwine had lived in the Bayfield area until his parents divorced earlier in 2012.  During the summer of that year his mother moved to Colorado Springs with Dylan and an older brother. A ruling by the judge in his parents' divorce case granted Dylan's father visitation rights over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

On November 18, 2012, Dylan flew from Colorado Springs to the Durango-Bayfield airport where he was met by his father. They stopped by the WalMart and McDonalds in Durango before heading out to Mr. Redwine's house north of Vallecito Reservoir. Pictures of Dylan were captured on security footage both at the airport and at WalMart.

Dylan Redwine at Durango airport 11/18/2012

Dylan Redwine at Durango WalMart 11/18/2012

Dylan sent a text message to his mother indicating that he had arrived at his father's, and signed off with a frowny-face emoticon.  According to some former school friends of Dylan, he was supposed to meet them at about 6:30 the next morning, but he did not show up. Dylan's father left the house about 7:30 to go to Durango on some errands. That is the last he saw Dylan. When Mr. Redwine returned home about 11:30, Dylan was not at the house. By about 3 or 4 in the afternoon he was worried enough that he called Dylan's mother to see if she had heard from him. She then reported Dylan missing to the Sheriff's office about 6:30 p.m.  The search was on.  Eventually it would include the local sheriff's department, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, along with several hundred volunteer searchers.

Some early possible sightings of Dylan either alone or with another youth were later discounted as being someone else. As the early days of the search went on, search dogs were brought in and apparently got a scent response along the dam at Vallecito Reservoir.  The reservoir was searched by sonar and with a dive team but no body was located. 

The story has taken a few twists and turns in the months since then, which I will look at in a future post.  The Curious Disappearance of Dylan Redwine remains unsolved and his official status is still "Missing".  If you have any information related to this case, please contact the La Plata County Sheriff's office at (970) 385-2900

Sunday, April 14, 2013


     When a person goes missing, family and law enforcement try to get the word out early and widely disseminated.  We've all seen the letter sized posters on the window of the local grocery store or convenience store.  When Jack Gordon disappeared in a remote area of southern Colorado the family relied largely on posters and word of mouth in the small community because there is no local television station. 

     But do posters placed in prominent public sites near the site of the person's disappearance really help? Here is an interesting experiment carried out by Sade Malloy a Fox TV News reporter in Colorado Springs.

     I put together my own experiment with a mock missing poster and placed our missing child right in front of it.

     I covered the front doors of a local big box retailer with our mock posters. They had bold letters that read "missing," a picture of our missing child, T.J. Helton, and a detailed description of his last known whereabouts.
     One by one people walked by the posters, some taking a moment to analyze them, others just breezed by.
     Forty minutes went by before one person, Chris Adams, realized our missing child was next to him.

     There are many possible explanations for this phenomenon.  The seeming frequency of missing persons alerts may have resulted in a sort of numbness in the population.  If you aren't aware of the fact that someone has recently gone missing it is probably easy to walk right by a poster without it registering in you conscious mind. I think if you recognize the face, it might draw your attention if only briefly.  There may be only a small subset of the general population that notices such posters.  Then again, it only takes one.

     I think there may be more benefit to actually talking to the store owners or clerks in the locations where you are placing your posters, because they are in a position to see a lot of people coming and going.  Putting your missing persons face in the local sheriff's office may also trigger subconscious awareness in the law enforcement officers who are actually out on the roads encountering folks. I always did wonder, though, whether those posters ever helped. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013


     Regarding Sandy Hook Elementary School and the gun control issue, there have been millions of words from all sides of the issue.  I would like to pose this simple question and analyze it.

"Can we prevent another Sandy Hook, and if so, how?" 

Simply stated, there are three necessary ingredients for a Sandy Hook type event, a depraved state of mind in the perpetrator, a choice of murderous implement and a target of opportunity.

     These three ingredients occur in a roughly linear progression. The murderer reaches the state of mind, selects his implement of destruction and then selects his target.  To prevent similar tragedies interdiction at any of these three stages is fair game for discussion.

1. THE PERPETRATOR- The reason these rare events are so shocking is that we lack the ability to recognize utter depravity before it reaches the point of mass murder.  If we had that capability, preventing another Sandy Hook would be a simple matter. But we don't, so are left with the final two steps in the murderous triptych.

2. THE IMPLEMENT-  In the currently raging schism, we are largely focused on firearms.   The political left chooses to step outside this linear progression (state of mind → implement → target) by preventing law-abiding, non-murderous citizens from possessing firearms on the dubious theory that restricting availability of firearms to law-abiding citizens will eventually limit firearm availability to non-law-abiding folks. This is analogous to outlawing automobiles for everybody because some weirdo plows his SUV into the local farmers' market. The only difference is that the right to possess firearms is specifically delineated in the Bill of Rights.  It also neglects the idea that mass murderers can (and will) choose implements other than firearms (automobiles, flammables and machetes to name just three).

3. THE TARGET- In an ostensibly free society, it comes down to being prepared to protect innocent lives at the point of attack. Citizens as first responders prevented flight 92 from reaching D.C. on 9/11. Hardening cockpit doors and random air marshall presence has kept hijackers out of cockpits since then. We can do the same for our schools. We either are willing to do it or we are not. How will we choose?