Reflections Blog

Dylan Redwine Has Vanished

Dylan Redwine is a 13-year-old boy who vanished from his father’s home in Vallecito, Colorado, on November 19, the morning after he had arrived for a court-ordered holiday visit with his father.  He hasn’t been seen since.

I have wanted to write about Dylan since this situation developed, but I wasn’t sure what to say.  As a person naturally inclined toward problem solving, my tendency is to speculate about what happened to him and try to solve the mystery.  But I am not privy to what the investigators know, so my speculations would be uninformed and potentially damaging.  I can say that our community has been stunned by his disappearance, and he remains in our hearts and on our minds. 

His Missing Person notice has been posted on many store windows.  You can’t walk around town without seeing it.  And our local newspaper, The Durango Herald, publishes periodic updates on the case.   The latest has nothing new to report on Dylan’s disappearance but notes that the reward for information leading to an arrest or information about his whereabouts has grown to $20,000.

That is a substantial sum of money, and it seems likely that someone out there knows where Dylan is or what happened to him, but so far that someone hasn’t been enticed by the reward to come forward.

It is sad to say, but in America as a whole Dylan’s disappearance is not unusual.  According to a Department of Justice study (2002), nearly 800,000 children were reported missing in the United States during a one-year period.  Most were runaways who returned on their own unharmed.  Over 200,000 were the victims of family (usually parental) abductions, and 58,000 were taken by non-family members.   Just over one hundred of these missing children were the victims of stereotypical abductions, where the perpetrator transports the child fifty miles or more, then kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently ( 

It’s not clear which of these categories Dylan might fall into, although it’s highly unlikely that he’s a runaway, and he doesn’t appear to have been abducted by a family member.  In any case, Dylan is not a statistic.  He was a member of our community.  He went to our schools.  His friends were other children in our community.  Until recently, he lived in our part of Colorado.  Then his parents underwent a bitter divorce, and his mother moved with Dylan and his older brother to another part of the state. 

Be that as it may, he disappeared while he was in our midst.  And that makes it personal.  We have watched anxiously as the police searched for him.  They’ve done a thorough investigation.  They’ve brought in tracker dogs.  They’ve sent divers into Vallecito Lake.  They’ve set up hot lines and responded to thousands of leads.  The area where Dylan disappeared is mountainous and heavily forested.  On the chance that he might have wandered into the woods and gotten lost, the authorities searched likely areas where he might have gone and found nothing.

Then, in early December, before it snowed and got bitterly cold here, a group of citizens organized a more extensive search.  They sent notices on Facebook and in the newspaper and asked for one hundred volunteers.  More than 350 local people showed up. 

And found nothing. 

Since then the temperatures have dropped below zero for days, and it has snowed heavily in our mountains.  If Dylan went into the forest, it seems certain that he won’t be coming back out.

We would like to believe that Dylan is alive and unharmed, that he will return soon to those who care for him, but with each passing day that hope fades.  So we are left with the real possibility that someone has harmed him in some way, that he hasn’t returned to us because he isn’t able to.

I can’t imagine deliberately harming anyone, much less a child.  I believe that we adults—all of us—are  the guardians of children—not only our own children but all children.  We are responsible for their welfare, so it is unfathomable to me that an adult could, with intention and forethought, threaten, beat, kidnap, torture, kill, or in any other way harm a child.  What happened in Newtown, Connecticut, is completely incomprehensible to me.  That a young man, whatever his mental state, could walk into a classroom full of first graders and murder twenty of them with an assault rifle is so beyond my capacity to comprehend it that I wonder if Adam Lanza and I belong to the same species.

Nor can I imagine exploiting sad situations, like the New York woman who’s been accused of setting up a fake Internet charity for Newtown victims and funneling the money into her Paypal account.  What kind of person does that sort of thing? 

In his prose poem “Desiderata,” Max Ehrmann wrote, “Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.  But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.”  I believe this is true.  Many people do strive for high ideals and heroic behavior abounds. 

But the sad truth about humanity is that we also have a dark side.  People without conscience walk among us.  Scoundrels will exploit love and good intentions when it suits their self-serving purposes.  And now and then a person lacking scruples, honor, and decency will harm a child.  As Freeman Dyson wrote in his great book Disturbing the Universe, there will always be people who will shit on the stars.  There are demons among us.  There always have been and there always will be.

Dylan Redwine has vanished.  We don’t know where he is or what happened to him.  I am a father and a grandfather, and I’ve been fortunate never to have had a missing child in my family because what I also can’t imagine is the anguish a parent must feel when his or her child has vanished.  Having a child die must be difficult enough.  I can’t fathom how hard it must be to wake up every day not knowing what happened to your child or whether he or she will ever return.  So my heart goes out to those who love and care for Dylan.

He is still missing.  If anyone reading this has any information about Dylan, please call (970) 382-7511.


Virginia Lashbrooke

Thanks Terry for speaking for all of us.

December 31, 2012, 2:42 PM
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