Mark Redwine, the father of Dylan Redwine, is organizing a community search for his son’s remains.
The seven-day search is scheduled for Aug. 4-11 on Middle Mountain, northeast of Vallecito Reservoir, where some of Dylan’s remains were found in June 2013.
“Instead of having a bunch of little searches go on, I’m trying to create a big search,” Redwine said in an interview this week. “We’ve got two months to put this all together and get everybody’s involvement.”
Dylan went missing Nov. 19, 2012, a day after he arrived from Monument for a court-ordered visit with his father during the Thanksgiving holiday. The death was ruled a homicide by the La Plata County Coroner’s Office, and the case remains under investigation by the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
A search organized by the boy’s father presents an interesting dynamic: The Sheriff’s Office has named Mark Redwine a person of interest, and Mark Redwine has grown increasingly frustrated with the Sheriff’s Office, saying the agency made several missteps early in the investigation, has made little progress during the last 4½ years, and has become non-communicative with him in more recent years.
Sheriff Sean Smith, who was first elected in November 2014, has never spoken to the father and refuses to return his calls, Mark Redwine said.
“I find it a little irritating that he won’t even return my phone calls,” Mark Redwine said.
The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment about the pending investigation or Mark Redwine’s concerns, other than to say the Sheriff’s Office plans to participate and provide assistance to the August search.
“The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office has no further comment on this active investigation and has no comment concerning Mr. Mark Redwine’s opinions regarding the Dylan Redwine investigation,” sheriff’s spokesman Dan Bender wrote in an email to the The Durango Herald.
The search is being coordinated by Shelly Watson, who was born in Bloomfield and lives in Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood.
Watson said she met Mark Redwine three months ago while learning how to drive trucks. Mark Redwine was her trainer, and they spent time together on the road in his rig. He didn’t talk much about himself, but on about the third week, Watson asked about a key chain and some sports memorabilia hanging on the passenger side in his rig.
Mark Redwine said they were reminders of his son and shared the story of Dylan’s disappearance and the subsequent finding of his remains – a shoulder bone and fingertip in coyote scat – northeast of his home, she said.
“It didn’t make sense that this person sitting next to me could quite possibly pull off the perfect murder,” Watson said. “I mean, look at the guy. He’s disheveled and sometimes disorganized; I could see how people would judge that, because of the way he looked.”
Watson used the internet to read up on the case, including a two-part “Dr. Phil” show that aired in May 2015 that featured Mark Redwine, his ex-wife, Elaine Hatfield Hall, and Dylan’s older brother, Cory Redwine.
Nothing about Mark Redwine’s story or demeanor caused Watson to believe he played a part in Dylan’s death, she said.
“I said, ‘Mark, I’m going to ask you one time: Did you kill your son?’ He said, ‘No, I didn’t kill my son. I don’t know what happened to my son,’” she said.
Watson said she believes Dylan was killed by wildlife, possibly a mountain lion.
She asked Mark Redwine why he hasn’t done more to find his son’s remains, including searching Middle Mountain. He said it would look bad, especially if he found something, because people would say he knew where to look, she said.
But Watson said finding Dylan’s remains will exonerate Mark Redwine if forensic investigators can prove he was the victim of a wildlife attack.
“I said, ‘Look, I’m going to help you out. I’m going to help Dylan out. ... If they want to put you in jail, and they’re adamant that you killed your son, only the bones will tell the truth, so let’s go find your son,’” Watson said. “He said, ‘OK.’”
Watson agreed to serve as coordinator for the community search, thereby removing Mark Redwine one step.
Regardless of what people may think of Mark Redwine, Watson hopes the community will show up in great numbers to help comb the rugged wilderness for Dylan’s remains.
“If a parent is accused of abusing or murdering their child, is our motivation lessened to find the child if the child is missing? It shouldn’t, no matter whether the parent is good or bad, no matter what happened,” she said.
Watson said she plans to search Middle Mountain in August, even if the community doesn’t show up in numbers.
“If anything were to happen to me, I hope to God that more than five people come up there to find my remains,” she said.
Mark Redwine said he is on the fence about participating in the search, but he likely won’t participate – for obvious reasons.
“I don’t want it to ever be said that I pointed anybody in the right direction, which is how I’m afraid that would come across if I were out there,” he said. “I would love to be there, I would like to be participating in it, but for obvious reasons, I feel it’s in my best interest not to participate.”
Mark Redwine said the Sheriff’s Office has failed to find significant remains of his son. Instead, investigators have labeled him a “person of interest,” which has no meaning and is only a distraction. The label has given his ex-wife firepower to label him a murderer, he said.
Efforts to reach Hall for comment about the search were unsuccessful Friday.
“The fact is I am not a murderer,” Mark Redwine said. “I had absolutely nothing to do with my son’s disappearance and/or subsequent death. I’m just a father trying to find out the answers, and I want my son brought home.”