STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Beams of at least 50 flashlights lit up the sky Wednesday night at Joe Stephenson Park in Bayfield as community members gathered to celebrate and remember the 14th birthday of Dylan Redwine.
Wednesday marked 80 days since Dylan went missing from his father’s house in Vallecito.
“I know that a lot of you, like myself, never thought we would be standing here 80 days later with still no word and nothing to go on except hope,” said Denise Hess, a devoted family friend who has spearheaded most of the local efforts to find the boy. “That’s what we’re here to do tonight, is to show the world and show Elaine (Redwine, Dylan’s mother) and show Dylan’s family and show this community that we still hope.”
Hess emphasized the importance of social media in the search for the missing teenager and celebrated the fact that the Find Missing Dylan Redwine Facebook page had received more than 10,000 “likes” as of Tuesday.
Several other community members spoke about maintaining hope and keeping the search alive.
“I want my own children to know I would never stop looking for them,” said Julia Hollingsworth.
At 7 p.m., people in the crowd turned their flashlights to the stars and sang “Happy Birthday” in hopes that their lights and voices would join others across the area.
Community members in three other cities – Farmington, Monument and Westminster – also held rallies called “Beams of Hope Birthday Blaze” to honor Dylan’s birthday.
Elaine Redwine was expected to attend the event in Monument, where the family moved last summer. The Westminster celebration was held at the park memorializing Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old who was kidnapped and killed in October, Hess said.
In Bayfield, two birthday cakes awaited the crowd when they finished singing. One cake was decorated with the scene of a river, one of Redwine’s favorite places, and the other read: “Beams of Hope for Dylan.”
Attendees also signed posters for Dylan, and his friends videotaped the event with the goal of compiling the entire search process into a video for Dylan when he returns, Ryan Nava said.
Mark Redwine, Dylan’s father, did not attend the Bayfield event to the dismay of some community members.
Earlier Wednesday, Central Dispatch and the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office began receiving calls from Front Range and New Mexico media outlets asking if Dylan’s body had been found. Dan Bender, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said those are rumors, and they are completely false.
“We haven’t even sent deputies out on an unattended death today,” he said. “Sometimes people can hear one of those calls and misinterpret it, then with phone trees and social media, it gets all twisted. But I don’t know where today’s rumors started.”
Bender said his office didn’t know whether the rumors were started “as a cruel prank on Dylan’s birthday, or if they were simply gross misinformation.”
With information about Dylan’s disappearance still sparse, an Edgewood, N.M.-based canine forensics organization announced it will lend its services to look for Dylan’s body. According to a report in The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Wendy Kessinger, owner of the nonprofit Special Operations Inc., K-9 Forensics, will spend a few weeks in Vallecito and provide the entire service for free.