Three people who had early contact with Mark Redwine the day his 13-year-old son was reported missing testified Monday that the father appeared “rough,” “haggard,” “laid-back” and less concerned about a missing child than most people.
The testimony came on the sixth day of a jury trial for Redwine, who is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Dylan Redwine. Redwine has pleaded not guilty.
Roy Vreeland, a now-retired deputy chief at Pine River Fire Protection District, was home on his day off Nov. 19, 2012, when he received a page out about a missing boy. He grabbed his go-bag, noted the temperatures in the low 40s and was one of the first to arrive at Mark Redwine’s house north of Vallecito Reservoir.
Vreeland, joined by former La Plata Sheriff’s Deputy Barrett Potthoff, visited Redwine’s home shortly before nightfall. Redwine immediately answered the door, but he looked “rough,” Vreeland said.
Vreeland said he saw multiple empty liquor bottles inside and outside Redwine’s property. Redwine also appeared “laid-back,” which is different from how other family members appear when dealing with a missing child, he said.
“Typically, more people are showing a lot of emotion when someone’s missing – hysterical to the point that you might have to have a family member help intervene,” he said.
Vreeland asked Redwine for items that would have Dylan’s scent on them, so a search dog could use them to help find the boy. He was initially told there was nothing to use. But Vreeland said many items can be used as scent articles, like a comb or a toothbrush.
Redwine indicated Dylan had been sleeping on the sofa in the living room. Vreeland asked to use the pillowcase on the sofa, and Redwine agreed.
Vreeland began the “trailing” process and gave a canine unit the pillowcase in an attempt to find a trail where Dylan may have gone, which came up empty. Vreeland said that was “unusual,” given the freshness of the evidence.
Dylan was on a court-ordered visit with his father over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2012.
Prosecutors say Redwine killed his son late on Nov. 18, 2012, because Dylan discovered sordid photos of Mark in women’s clothing and a diaper, and eating feces from a diaper. The photos were found by Dylan earlier that year.
Redwine has pleaded not guilty and said he woke early on Nov. 19. He assumed Dylan was sleeping in and ran errands in town. After coming back in the afternoon, he realized Dylan was missing.
In opening arguments, defense attorneys said Dylan left the house early and was likely killed by a mountain lion or a bear near Redwine’s home at the north end of Vallecito Reservoir.
On the morning of Nov. 19, Redwine went into the United Pipeline Systems office in Durango where he worked as a foreman on various projects in California and New Mexico. Sean Borris, a project manager there, said it wasn’t unusual for Redwine to come into the office. But Borris said Redwine looked “haggard” and “out of sorts.”
Redwine was working on a project in Silver City, New Mexico, but returned early for the Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with his son, Borris said.
Later that afternoon, Redwine went to the Bayfield Marshal's Office to report Dylan missing.
Redwine asked Sgt. Dan Abdala if he had seen Dylan. Abdala thought it strange because he had never met Redwine or Dylan, he testified.
Abdala offered to file an “attempt to locate” report, which is similar to a missing person report, but Redwine declined, Abdala said.
Abdala called the boy’s cellphone, leaving a message telling him to return, believing he was possibly late returning home, he said.
Redwine appeared calm and slightly concerned, Abdala said, which he described as unusual – similar to Vreeland’s assessment.
At 11 p.m., Vreeland saw all of the lights in the Redwine house turn off. He said that struck him as “odd” behavior that he “had never seen before.”
“Most people tend to turn every light on and make their house a beacon so a missing person can find their way home,” Vreeland said.
Given the cold weather and harshness of the terrain, Vreeland said he was concerned for the child’s well-being, but he said a child with “basic common sense” could survive the night.
At 7 a.m., Nov. 20, the day after Dylan was reported missing, Vreeland and others continued searching. The woods were searched, doors were knocked on and abandoned buildings were checked.
Redwine went on the porch of his house in the morning and drank coffee, Vreeland said. Redwine did not ask Vreeland for updates on the search, and Vreeland did not see Redwine ask anyone about the search.
“He showed no interest,” Vreeland testified.
Redwine told Vreeland and the sheriff’s deputy that Dylan could have gone fishing, which was a hobby of his. Dylan’s favorite area to fish was 9 miles away, and Redwine said Dylan would have walked to it. He also frequently fished at a stream across the street from his father’s house.
Dylan’s fishing pole was missing after a thorough search of the home, said Peggy Russin, a retired FBI agent who participated in a search warrant on Nov. 29. Dylan’s clothes, cellphone and backpack were also missing, she testified.
Teresa Cheromcha, the assistant DNA technical leader at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, was called to the stand Monday and continued discussions about DNA. The conversations centered on what it would take to remove DNA from the crime scene.
With fluids like blood, there are several factors at play, she said, including the amount of blood, the cleaning method and the rigorousness of the cleaning. Bleach is most effective in eliminating DNA, Cheromcha said.
“Bleach is very efficient at cleaning and removing surfaces,” she testified. “That's what I use in my laboratory to clean my benchtop in between items of evidence, it’s great at getting rid of DNA.”
The surface type the fluid is on is also a determining factor. Blood can be removed easier on a leather couch than a fabric one, she said. Defense lawyer Justin Bogan noted the seats on both trucks owned by Redwine had fabric interiors.
When asked on cross examination, Vreeland said he didn’t smell bleach or cleaning products and saw no blood in the Redwine house on Nov. 19.
Cheromcha said no “evidentiary evidence” was found in Redwine’s trucks. The seats of the trucks and truck beds were tested for bodily fluids and DNA through swabbing and phenolphthalein, which is a chemical used to test for the presence of blood.
A discoloration on the bed of Redwine’s Chevrolet was tested, but it was not a red-brown stain that could resemble blood, she 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.