Still building a case
One year after remains found, justice for Dylan Redwine elusive
JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
More than a year after investigators found partial remains of Dylan Redwine along a remote stretch of Middle Mountain Road north of Vallecito, authorities appear to be inching toward a decision about whether to bring charges in the case.
Supporters are optimistic they will finally have – as the posters urge – justice for Dylan.
“I actually believe it’s progressing,” said Lisa Bourque, a Vallecito resident who has become close friends with Dylan’s mother, Elaine.
La Plata County Sheriff’s Office investigators continue to meet at least once a week to go over the case, spokesman Dan Bender said. The investigators have reinterviewed witnesses and continue to process forensic evidence for possible clues. Last weekend, investigators spent three days going back over the area where Dylan’s remains were found in search of more evidence.
The Vallecito home of Mark Redwine, Dylan’s father, has been the scene of repeated searches.
Sheriff Duke Schirard suggested the investigation is tying up loose ends. Once the investigation concludes, the District Attorney’s Office would decide whether the case is strong enough to proceed with charges.
“We have put together what I feel is quite a circumstantial case, and we need to tie up some loose ends – and you have to understand we are in constant contact with the District Attorney’s Office about this,” he said.
District Attorney Todd Risberg declined to characterize the investigation’s progress.
“It’s a tough case, and I know the sheriff’s investigators are working hard on it,” he said. “They’re doing all they can at this point.”
More than a year since Dylan’s remains were found, and more than a year and a half since the 13-year-old disappeared while visiting his father, some are frustrated the investigation has taken so long.
“My faith in the justice system has been shaken considerably by the fact that we’re here a year later, and we’re still where we started,” said Denise Hess, a Bayfield woman who has acted as the Redwine family’s spokesperson.
“We keep having these anniversaries of things that you shouldn’t have to have anniversaries of.”
It’s unclear how long the investigation could stretch. Schirard said prosecutors will have one chance to win a conviction, and the case won’t go forward until it’s ready.
“We need the concurrence and approval of the District Attorney’s Office because we get one shot at proving this case, and we need to have the district attorney comfortable with the case that we bring to prosecution and all agencies onboard,” he said.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which has assisted in the case, declined to make its investigators available for interviews, citing the ongoing investigation.
Dylan’s disappearance affected a wide swath of local residents like no other recent crime. Hundreds of neighbors, friends and unrelated residents concerned for him joined searches for evidence or remains. Posters with a youthful image of Dylan in a T-shirt, smiling at the camera, were distributed around town.
National media noticed. Dylan’s divorced parents, Mark and Elaine, had an adversarial appearance on the “Dr. Phil” TV show, and Nancy Grace aired several segments about the case on her show on Headline News TV.
Dylan’s killing hit hard in Vallecito, home to only a few hundred year-round residents.
“I don’t think there was a day I did not walk and search for Dylan into that winter,” Bourque said. “You feel helpless, and it’s really kind of shocking.”
Dylan went missing Nov. 19, 2012. He had flown from Colorado Springs, where his mother moved after separating from Mark, to Durango-La Plata County Airport on Nov. 18, 2012. He sent his mother a text message assuring he had arrived.
Dylan went to his father’s house in Vallecito, where he was last seen by Mark Redwine at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 19. Police were notified at 6 p.m. that Dylan was missing.
Authorities have investigated Dylan’s death as suspicious, ruling out that he ran away or went camping in the mountains.
Many of Dylan’s survivors have blamed Mark Redwine for Dylan’s death. Mark has been interviewed by investigators, and items have been seized from his house. Mark has denied any wrongdoing, and he has not been named a suspect or charged in the case.
Vallecito residents have noticed the apparent focus on Mark Redwine’s home.
“There’s only one house that they keep going into and pulling stuff out of,” Bourque said.
Elaine Redwine lives in Colorado Springs but has returned to Vallecito on several occasions to keep tabs on the case, Bourque said. Attempts to reach Dylan’s mother for this story were unsuccessful.
Mark Redwine did not return a cellphone message, and his home number in Vallecito has been disconnected.
Nationally, murder and non-negligent manslaughter are among the most often solved violent crimes. In 2012, 62.5 percent of such crimes led to an arrest, according to the FBI. The clearance rate is even higher – above 70 percent – in small communities.
It’s the only unsolved homicide investigation in Schirard’s tenure as sheriff, which dates to 1995. Schirard is running for re-election.
Schirard said he wants the case prosecuted, but only when it’s ready.
“It’s a very emotional case, as it should be,” he said. “A lot of people are very concerned about it, particularly in the Vallecito area, in the Bayfield area. Certainly we would like very much to bring some peace of mind to these people and the families, but we’re not going to do it until we have the concurrence of the agencies involved that we have a prosecutable case.”
Those who knew Dylan and supporters of his family continue to focus public attention on the unsolved killing. Facebook groups such as Justice for Dylan Redwine and Dylan Redwine Warriors remain active. On May 28, Elaine Redwine and Bourque went to Boston, home of the Red Sox, Dylan’s favorite baseball team. A message, “We love and miss you Dylan Redwine,” appeared on an electronic screen at Fenway Park.
Bourque believes Dylan’s killer will be held accountable.
“That kid just deserves justice,” Bourque said. “I don’t think he’s going to be denied it. It’s just very, very delayed, which is so unfortunate.”