Molly the cadaver dog confirmed the scent indicating a “large source” of human remains at Mark Redwine’s home, on one of his trucks and on clothing belonging to his son, Dylan Redwine.
Carren Gummin, the dog handler, and Molly flew to Durango in August 2013 and February 2014 to assist in the investigation of the 13-year-old boy’s death.
Gummin worked as a police officer in Madison, Wisconsin, for nearly 30 years. In 2005, she founded her business Canine Search Solutions, a network of cadaver and trailing dogs that help law enforcement find missing people.
She retired last year, but still works as a trainer for trailing and cadaver dogs, she said. Much of her work related to cadaver dogs was on a volunteer basis, including her efforts on the Redwine case.
Redwine is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of his son. Dylan was reported missing Nov. 19, 2012, and the first remains of the boy were found in June 2013 in a rugged, mountainous area northeast of Redwine’s home near Vallecito Reservoir.
Molly, a German shepherd, indicated the odor of human remains on a pair of jeans, tennis shoes and a shirt belonging to Mark Redwine, Gummin said. Law enforcement collected Redwine’s clothing for Molly to evaluate, she testified.
Molly also found an odor of human remains at Redwine’s Vallecito home at the entryway, near the stairs, at the fireplace and in a corner of the living room, Gummin testified. Upstairs, the dog indicated an odor at the bathroom sink, the corner of the upstairs bedroom and in front of the washing machine, she said.
It’s unlikely the dog would falsely alert on so many areas indicating an odor of human remains if the presence of a body had not been there, Gummin told the jury.
“If I were to come into someone’s home (where) there had been no large amounts of ... human remains odor, I would not get that level of – number of – responses,” she said.
Outside Redwine’s home, Molly indicated the odor of human remains at the garage doors, front door, outdoor staircase, in the yard and at the shed behind the house. No odor was found at the septic tank, Gummin said.
The odor of human remains was also found on the exterior of Redwine’s truck, the backseat of the driver’s side and in the truck bed in February 2014, Gummin said.
The defense has sought to discredit the cadaver dog evidence, insisting such dogs are prone to mistakes and an unreliable source of evidence.
Gummin acknowledged K-9s have different levels of abilities and are not foolproof.
“They’re opportunists, they do make mistakes,” she said. “They’re not perfect.”
The defense noted blood was found in the living room by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, but Gummin said she was unsure if Molly alerted on those areas.
“A large source of human remains odor is going to override a couple of drops of blood,” she said.
Unconscious and conscious cues from the handler can also influence a dog to falsely indicate the odor of human remains, Gummin said.
Cadaver dogs, including Molly, are trained to recognize the smell of human remains by exposing the trainee to dead bodies, Gummin explained to the jury. Positive reinforcement is essential, like giving treats or toys, she said.
Dogs are re-evaluated under a national certification model each year to make sure their performance is up to snuff, Gummin testified.
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.
An earlier version of this story erred in saying Molly the dog found an odor of human remains on Dylan Redwine’s clothing. The dog alerted to a scent of human remains on Mark Redwine’s clothing.