Facebook group pushes search for missing boy

GARRISON WELLS Updated: January 13, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: January 13, 2013

There are 7,664 voices for Dylan Redwine, the 13-year-old Monument boy missing since Nov. 19 from his father’s house in the rugged backcountry near Durango.

They complain, cajole, plead, demand. On Jan. 10, one voice merely said hi.

“Dyl,” it said. “It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to post. I am working hard to get the time to write to you each night again like I did in the beginning. Boy, do I have some stories to share with you when you get home … “

The post was from Denise Hess, administrator of the Find Missing Dylan Redwine Facebook page

The page had 7,664 likes that day, a number that grows daily as the search continues for the boy who disappeared a day after he arrived at his father’s house in the Vallecito Lake area near Bayfield for a visit over Thanksgiving.

Hess, a friend of Dylan’s mother, Elaine Redwine, said when Elaine told her Dylan was missing the first thing she did was go online.

She created the Facebook page, then visited other Facebook pages of missing children and asked them to help her get the word out. They did and the likes started clicking.

“There’s an interesting community out there on Facebook that revolves around missing people,” Hess said. “We’ve become a part of that community.”

It doesn’t take much — ask your teenager.

Find the page, click on like, and updates start rolling in on your newsfeed. That means that every day, 7,664 people get updates on the search for Dylan.
Tomorrow there will be more.

Hess estimated the page reaches between 150,000 to 200,000 people a week. They are from all over the world, Japan, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, The Philippines and India, just to name a few places.

Facebook, Hess said, keeps Dylan alive in its own way. It’s also helped raise money for the search.

“We have people from all over the world who have seen Dylan’s face,” she said. “There’s a lot of social media out there. Without those tools, Dylan might just be a local case and with any missing child, they could be anywhere.”

Facebook, she said, “is a powerful tool. It’s hugely powerful.”

“You never know, somebody at work might have the page open and somebody else may walk by and say: ‘Hey. I’ve seen that kid.’”

It’s not just Facebook that is changing the landscape when it comes to missing children.

To be sure there’s social media, but technology in general has made a difference. Cell phones can text, take photos and videos and fire them off in an instant.

“The media environment has changed so much that there really has been a big change in a lot of things about missing kids,” said David Finkelhor, a missing children expert with the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

“Communications occur more easily, so kids don’t get lost or out of touch as much as they used to,” he said, noting that he informally tracks cases and believes the numbers are improving. “Foul play and homicide has declined. Abductions have declined as well. I think some of that has been the fact that with cell phones they can call for help. They can take pictures of what is going on.”

These high tech tools and social media have helped resolve cases, he said.

Hess said her page isn’t just looking for Dylan, “it is to keep people hopeful.”

“I go in there often. For awhile I went in every night and wrote to Dylan on the page and people really followed that,” she said. “It really touches the heart. It makes Dylan real to them when we go in and post to him.”

To Elaine Redwine, Facebook has been a blessing and a curse.

“A lot of people who I haven’t talked with in many, many years have contacted me on Facebook. I’ve been contacted by people I don’t even know,” she said. “Facebook has just been amazing as far as getting the information out about Dylan.”

But just recently she had to contact the administrator of another page that was critical of the family during the crisis and ask them to kill the page.

“They were really attacking the family for not doing things the way they thought they should be done,” Hess said. “It was causing a lot of controversy and we didn’t want that kind of controversy and we didn’t want that kind of negativity focusing on Dylan’s case.”

Early on, Elaine Redwine said she read the Facebook page often, sifting through clues, reading personal messages.

But, she said: “It gets harder,” as time goes on and Dylan’s whereabouts remain unknown.
“It’s uplifting,” Elaine Redwine said. “But it’s a shame that it’s happening and that it’s Dylan.”

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