Monday, May 27, 2024

Daniel Lee Newville: Missing Since July 31st, 2002

On July 31, 2002, 18-year-old Daniel Lee Newville was released from prison after serving a sentence for a probation violation. To celebrate his freedom, the young man attended a party in a house in New London, Minnesota where he stayed until the early morning hours of August 1. After failing to get a ride home, Daniel decided to walk back to his friend's residence a mile or two away — but never arrived. Two decades later, speculation continues about what really happened at the party that night and if the other attendees know more about Daniel's disappearance than they are willing to admit.

Born on May 7, 1984, Daniel was described by his father Russ as a very bright, sweet, and kind child who got along with everyone. But by the time Daniel was entering his teenage years, he began showing a more rebellious side. The boy desperate to fit in got involved with the wrong crowd after constantly feeling rejected by the popular kids simply because of being "poor". Daniel started skipping school and in time got into drugs which only made the situation with his peers worse: He was now labeled as a "druggie."

Those close to him believed that Daniel, who was desperately trying to get it right and never really wanted to disappoint his family and friends, would have eventually found his way out of the infinite loop of bad choices if given a chance. But any chance to turn his life around was taken away from Daniel just months after he turned 18. 

In the summer of 2002, Daniel was sentenced to 45 days in jail following a probation violation. Daniel and his friend had stolen a van the year prior after which the teenager spent time at the juvenile detention center in Willmar. Due to Daniel being underage at the time, the police didn't share details about his probation violation that followed — but it resulted in a 45-day sentence in the Kandiyohi County Jail.

After his release on July 31, 2002, Daniel headed straight to the so-called "party house" at the end of a dead-end street in New London.

The unofficial timeline of the events that followed, pieced together by “joy.the.curious,” who has spoken with Daniel's family, his friends, authorities, and people present at the party house that night suggests the teenager left and returned to the party house multiple times. Sometime in the afternoon, Daniel allegedly called his friend, known as R.H., in high spirits, sounding extremely energetic. This made R.H. wonder whether his friend was on drugs at the time of the call.

Afterward, Daniel visited another friend's house at the Peaceful Hills trailer park before returning to his grandfather's house in Spicer, where he was living at the time to change his clothes. According to Russ, Daniel called him before heading back to the party house asking him to leave his fishing pole out so he could grab it later. That fishing pole, however, would stay in the same spot untouched for days as Daniel never came to pick it up.

It wasn't unusual for Daniel to stay out without letting his grandfather or other relatives know where he was — but before, he had always returned home after a few days. Now, a week passed without any signs of the teenager. After learning from Daniel's friends nobody had seen his son since August 1, Russ says he informed Willmar Police about his disappearance. However, no official missing person’s report was filed at the time, and it would take 1,5 months before anyone really started to look into what happened to Daniel Newville.

On September 23, 2002, 54 days after Daniel was last seen leaving the party house, the authorities received an anonymous tip claiming Daniel was dead and his body could be found on his grandfather's property in Spicer. The police began an investigation immediately — just to find out the tip was nothing but a hoax, one of the numerous rumors that would surround Daniel's case.

Despite extensive land and searches, the use of cadaver dogs, and following more than 100 leads, the authorities failed to locate Daniel or his body. According to witnesses, Daniel was last seen leaving the residence in New London on foot, but nobody had any idea what could have happened to him. Interviews and polygraph tests of the people present at the party that night produced no answers — but both law enforcement and Daniel's family believed they were not told the whole truth. Soon rumors about Daniel's possible fate began to circulate in the town and competing theories were formed about the reasons for his mysterious disappearance.

One of the most obvious theories was that Daniel accidentally overdosed at the party house or was given bad drugs which resulted in his death. Those present then got rid of the young man's body to not get in trouble with the authorities.

Daniel had just been released from prison and some were wondering how he funded his drug usage. One of the earliest theories suggested Daniel was killed over a drug debt and everyone at the house helped to cover up the crime. “Keep your mouth shut or you’ll end up like Danny Newville” eventually became a running threat in the town.

According to witnesses, Daniel was seen alive around 5:30 am on August 1, 2002, when he left the party house to walk back to his residence in Peaceful Hills. He should have arrived 20 to 30 minutes later, but he never did. Perhaps something happened to Daniel along the way.

The last theory plays with the idea that Daniel simply decided to walk away and start over somewhere new. The young man was struggling in his hometown, he had just been released from jail which had forced him to stay clean for 60 days and he possibly had drug debts. While it doesn't sound too far-fetched that a person in this kind of situation would want to disappear and start fresh, Daniel's family has been adamant that was not the case.

As for today, all these theories remain just those — theories. 20 years since he was last seen, Daniel Newville remains missing, but his loved ones still have not given up the hope that one day, they will get him back.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 320-235-1260 ext. 3366

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