STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
BAYFIELD – Candles shone in the darkness as more than 150 people turned out for a vigil for missing 13-year-old Dylan Redwine on Tuesday evening at Eagle Park in Bayfield.
“The family is grateful beyond words for the countless hours people have donated, posting fliers across the country, the hundreds who turned out in droves to comb hillsides,” said Denise Hess, who has been organizing volunteers. “People all over the world are holding vigil with us now.”
The ceremony marked the first public appearance by Dylan’s father, Mark Redwine, who was the last to see his son at about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 19. Like many who spoke, he referred to Dylan in both the present tense and the past tense, reflecting the uncertainty everyone feels about Dylan’s fate.
“That boy was my whole world,” he told the crowd. “I would do anything to find him. You don’t know how much I love that boy.”
Elaine Redwine, made comments to ABC News Radio on Monday saying she’s afraid her ex-husband might have had something to do with their son’s disappearance. Mark Redwine, who said he arrived late because he didn’t know about the vigil, obliquely responded to those comments during his speech.
“Unfortunately, his mother and I don’t see eye to eye,” he said. “I wish it could be different, because at a time like this, we should be together.”
Dylan’s older brother, Cory, 21, gave his father a hug after he spoke.
After the vigil, Elaine Redwine’s sister, Lia Howard, said she was surprised Mark Redwine came.
“But I’m glad he did,” she said.
A number of students who had attended Bayfield Middle School with Dylan before he moved to Colorado Springs with his mother and brother this summer described the missing teen as kind and nice.
A picture of a boy who was the class clown also emerged with tales of Dylan loving unicorns and teasing friends.
“I can still see him drinking Mountain Dew, all hyped up,” Nash McNichol said. “He always smiled, he was always happy, he always wanted to have fun.”
Dylan’s former classmates have had a tough few years with the deaths of fellow middle-school students Madeline “Maddie” Milner in a skiing accident in 2010 and Shaniah Farmer in a car accident in 2011.
“We have a sad pattern in Bayfield that’s now in its third year,” Ellis McNichol, Nash’s little sister, said. “First Maddie, then Shaniah. We know what happened to them, but not what happened to Dylan. I don’t think this small town can afford to lose another child.”
Two pastors, the Revs. Dan Straw and Brian Caselles, offered prayers, a reading from Philippians and words of comfort.
“I encourage all of us to pray for calm and a sustained effort,” Straw said. “This was a sprint, but it’s turned into a marathon. There are appropriate, safe ways to express fear, anxiety and anger. Let’s everyone cut each other a little slack. We all need to catch our second wind, take a deep breath, get some rest, take nourishment.”
Straw was the only one to give voice to one of the community’s deepest fears, that Dylan has been abducted.
“I don’t know how prayer works, I just know that it can,” he said. “Let’s pray that God will let Dylan know that we love him, and we’re looking for him. And encourage the person with Dylan to do the right thing, the courageous thing, the compassionate thing and let Dylan come home.”
Hess asked attendees to put one of the fliers about Dylan in the back window of their cars and announced a Find Dylan Redwine account has been established at Wells Fargo Bank to help pay for search expenses.
Anne Cook, who has been helping organize volunteers at Vallecito Reservoir, said everyone has the impression that the search is over, and nothing could be further from the truth.
“We’re just done searching underwater,” she said. “The search has actually intensified with the arrival of the FBI. We will keep on searching, and we will not stop until we find Dylan.”
Despite all the tears and fears, the community is still holding out hope.
“Each day, it gets harder to hope,” Carolyn Cook, Anne Cook’s daughter, said. “But hopefully, for not too much longer. We need to gain hope each day.”