Mark Redwine’s living room did not show evidence of a major bloodletting event after chemical testing and analysis at the home, a forensic scientist told jurors Tuesday.
Richard Eikelenboom said the often-used chemical agent luminol detects traces of blood at crime scenes not perceivable to the naked eye, including after a suspect attempts to clean the scene. The chemical reacts to certain compounds in substances, like iron in blood, and creates a blue glow.
But he told the jury luminol is not an entirely reliable tool because other substances, like bleach, can give off fluorescence.
“I think every crime scene you go to, you will find false positives,” Eikelenboom said.
But prosecutor Fred Johnson pointed out that further tests were completed to confirm the presence of blood at Redwine’s Vallecito home, and each sample came back positive.
Traces of blood were found in several locations of the living room, including on a couch cushion, love seat cushion, floor underneath a rug, rug in front of a loveseat and a coffee table. But most of those locations created small points of illumination using luminol, some as small as a dime. Those could have been the result of getting a small cut, flossing or picking a scab, Eikelenboom said.
The traces do not suggest a major bloodletting event, such as what might be expected after blunt force trauma, Eikelenboom said.
Earlier testimony from expert witnesses concluded Redwine’s son, Dylan Redwine, endured blunt force trauma based on fractures on the boy’s skull at or near the time of death.
Karen Alexander, Redwine’s former girlfriend, told jurors Monday that Dylan accidentally cut his finger while cooking dinner over Labor Day weekend in 2011. Some blood dripped in the living room, Alexander said, where trace elements were found.
Redwine is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of his 13-year-old son. Prosecutors say Redwine killed his son in a fit of rage after Dylan confronted him about sordid photos.
Defense attorneys say it is possible Dylan was attacked and killed by wildlife in the rugged mountains surrounding the father’s home north of Vallecito Reservoir, 21 miles northeast of Durango.
Witness testimony and closing arguments are expected to conclude this week, and jurors could begin deliberations as soon as Thursday or Friday.
Eikelenboom showed the court images of previous crime scenes he has analyzed, including a case of homicide by blunt force trauma in which large bloodstains were found after using luminol at the scene.
But Eikelenboom acknowledged it is possible a violent event occurred in Redwine’s living room, even though the scene did not appear to be bloody.
“Some violence, you don’t have much bloodletting,” Eikelenboom said.
If cleanup of blood is attempted, it is nearly impossible to remove all traces, he said.
Cleanup also differs by the surface. Smooth surfaces, like a hard floor or table, are easier to clean. But other surfaces like carpet are more difficult, he said.
Small illuminations can show up even in a home where no murder or significant bloodletting occurred, he said. The application of luminol can also disturb evidence, like blood, because of the soluble nature of both elements, Eikelenboom said.
During cross-examination, Johnson noted Eikelenboom has little experience in fresh crime scenes in the last 15 years.
Eikelenboom and his wife, Selma Eikelenboom, own Independent Forensic Services, a private laboratory specializing in bloodstain analysis, crime scene reconstruction and DNA. The lab previously worked on prominent cases, including those involving Casey Anthony, Aaron Hernandez and JonBenet Ramsey.
Johnson quizzed Eikelenboom about certain details of the Redwine case, including when Dylan went missing, when his remains were found and how often Dylan visited his father in Vallecito. Eikelenboom was unable to answer any of the questions, among others.
“So you have an opinion as to whether his blood may be in the living room naturally, inadvertently, and you don't know how many days he's been in that house?” Johnson asked.
“It would be relevant, I think,” Eikelenboom responded.
Angela Lee, a longtime postal worker in the Vallecito area, testified Tuesday she saw two boys walking near Vallecito Reservoir about 10 a.m. Nov. 19 – the day Dylan went missing.
She said she was about 50% sure it was Dylan, but at other times during her testimony she said she couldn’t be sure at all.
“The boy kind of reminded me of Dylan,” Lee said. “I couldn't be, you know, for sure, because I just barely glanced at them.”
If Lee did see Dylan, it would cast doubt on the prosecution’s timeline, suggesting the boy was alive after Redwine left the house to run errands. It would also suggest Dylan met up with a friend to go somewhere on his own volition.
Lee said she saw Dylan sporadically on her route when the boy was in town visiting.
Lee’s coworker heard her talking about the possible sighting and notified law enforcement. Lee didn’t call law enforcement herself because she was unsure if one of the boys was really Dylan, she said.
“I was never sure, ever,” Lee said.
Kaela Roeder is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a 2021 graduate of American University in Washington, D.C.