Elaine Redwine’s life, this cozy thing that included a pending marriage, a new house on 2.5 acres and a job she loved at Colorado College, came to a halt on Nov. 19.
One text message from her ex-husband Mark Redwine, and her world changed forever.
Their 13-year-old son Dylan, who was visiting his father over Thanksgiving in the Vallecito area near Durgano, was missing.
Since that day, Elaine has not worked at her job as an associate director of financial aid.
The marriage to builder Mike Hall is on hold.
And the house outside of Monument that they moved into two weeks before Dylan disappeared has an empty bedroom that she never enters.
“Every time I look in there I see these little socks and …” she breaks into tears.
“I never thought in a million years I would have a missing child,” she said. “Now, it’s part of every day. It’s real.”
Since Dylan’s disappearance, volunteer searchers and a team of investigators have sifted through clues and plodded through acreage looking for the boy.
Investigators officially began the search for Dylan as a runaway.
About a week after their search failed to dig up clues, they considered a possible ‘abduction, kidnapping or some kind of foul play,” according to Dan Bender, spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s been the toughest two months for Elaine.
On Thursday, Elaine and other family members were preparing for a dinner benefit for Dylan to raise funds for the search. There were 1,600 tickets with Dylan’s face on them. Photos of Dylan and posters for the benefit were on a table.
Elaine was wearing a Boston Red Sox T-shirt. Dylan had given it to her after a trip to Boston last summer with his father. Dylan, she said, loves the Red Sox.
His birthday looms. Dylan turns 14 on Feb. 6.
“I hope by then he’s here,” Elaine said.
If Dylan is not, she is not sure if they will celebrate, going on with their lives as if he is still around.
They try to talk about him in present tense. Now and then a past tense slips in, and they quickly correct themselves.
“We will always continue as if he is here,” Elaine said. “He’s here in our hearts and our minds and our souls.”
The memories burn.
Only recently has she been able to discuss Dylan without bursting into tears. The tears still come, but less often.
She remembers receiving the text Nov. 19 from Mark Redwine and contacting the Bayfield Marshal’s Office to report Dylan missing. She headed to the area after work.
Elaine, Hall and family members reached the area around midnight.
By 1 a.m., they began their personal search.
“Panic set in,” Hall said.
They knocked on doors, stopped at the convenience store, woke up neighbors looking for Dylan, he said. They didn’t find anything.
The next day, a search-and-rescue team arrived and the searches grew in size and scope, with up to a couple hundred made up of community members.
Again, nothing was found.
“The first thing that went through my mind was that I hope he is ok, then anger, because I know Dylan wouldn’t just run away,” Elaine said. “And then, of course, fear. Who has him? Where is he? He couldn’t just disappear. I still think those things.”
Elaine has been searching ever since. She was in the area for a month and searched every day.
Not a single clue.
“We scoured that area,” Elaine said. “There were no clues, not even a footprint. I’m supposed to believe he just vanished and I don’t believe that.”
The most difficult time for her was when divers searched area reservoirs for Dylan’s body.
“It was disheartening when they were in the boats. That was terrifying,” she said.
The dearth of clues, she said, has left her with an overload of unanswered questions and a suspicion that her husband knows more than he is letting on.
He doesn’t return text messages and refuses to meet with her to answer questions, she said.
She wants to know why he left Dylan that morning to do his errands.
She wants to know why Dylan, who had a cell phone, never called her or his friends.
She wants to know how there can not be a single clue to a missing boy who left home with a backpack while his father was on errands.
“He’s lost our child,” she said. “Dylan didn’t just disappear. He didn’t walk off on his own. He didn’t hitchhike and he didn’t just stop calling people on his cell phone.”
With events such as the benefit to raise funds, Elaine plods on.
She said she and others have contacted national outlets such as Dr. Phil, CNN, America’s Most Wanted and The Today Show to get the word out about Dylan nationally. So far, they haven’t heard back.
So she makes the five-hour drive every week or so from Monument to Durango, where she stays with friends. Sometimes, she meets with others in Bayfield to keep up their flagging spirits. Other times she attends local events for Dylan.
And sometimes, although the odds are enormously against her at this stage, mom still searches for her 13-year-old son.
“Sometimes, I go to Vallecito and, you know, just look,” she said.