The world around her may be swept into the holiday spirit, but Elaine Redwine can’t even look at a Christmas tree right now.
“It’s just not Christmas without Dylan,” said the mother of 13-year-old Dylan Redwine, who disappeared from his father’s house in Vallecito on Nov. 19.
She had planned to buy Dylan a smartphone for Christmas and take him to a holiday parade. But those plans are put on hold for now. Instead she is here, waiting and hoping for news about her son.
Nearly four weeks since the blond-haired, blue-eyed teen went missing, nothing but questions float in the gaping void left by his disappearance.
But his mother and others close to him hold out a fierce hope that the boy who still lives vividly in their minds will soon return home.
Small town life
At Bayfield Middle School, Dylan was friends with “literally everybody,” his close friend Ryan Nava said.
During the summer, Dylan and his friends would pile three or four to a bicycle and cruise down to the Pine River, said Wesley Herring, who has known Dylan since elementary school.
The boys hung out for “weeks on end during the summer,” Wesley said. “We wouldn’t go home forever.”
They stayed up late during sleepovers when Dylan was always the hyper one and played hide-and-go-seek for hours after dark. One time during a snowstorm, Dylan was the one to stick out his thumb and hitch the boys a ride home from the library.
Dylan liked to argue, just because he knew he could get under his friends’ skin, Wesley said.
“That’s not one of the things people normally miss, but I kinda miss it,” he said.
When Dylan moved to Colorado Springs this summer, he became fast friends with the boy down the street, Joe Ceballos.
The two would hang out after school and almost every weekend, Joe said. Dylan is like a brother to him.
“Out of everyone I had, he was my best friend. He was always there for me no matter what,” Joe said. “If I had a bad day, he would sit down and talk to me. He would say ‘don’t get mad, don’t get sad, life will get better for you.’”
Dylan’s mother said her son is happiest being around those he loves.
“Wherever his friends were, wherever his brother was, those were his favorite places,” she said.
Life on the Front Range
A yawning emptiness fills the Monument house that Dylan left Nov. 18.
Dylan’s family – his mother, brother, Elaine’s fiancé and his two children – had just finished remodeling the house a bit north of Colorado Springs and moved in a few weeks before he disappeared.
But it has yet to feel like a complete home.
“This house is very empty,” said Mike Hall, Elaine’s fiancé. “I have an empty bedroom downstairs, and that’s tough, it’s really tough. And it’s going to be like that until we get him home. Everybody in this house feels like that.”
Dylan was excited to move to Colorado Springs this summer, his mother said. He likes the amenities of the city and the new social opportunities.
He had started to grow out of his shyness and spread his wings socially in the city. As the new boy in school, he already had attracted the attention of a number of girls, said Ashley Hall, Mike’s daughter.
He is a fan of Skate City, a local roller rink where middle-schoolers are known to mingle, and was starting to find a group of friends at his new school, Lewis Palmer Middle School, said his American History teacher, Suzanne Magerko.
Students continue to approach her for updated news of Dylan, Magerko said.
“They are still thinking about him here,” she said.
The school started a blue-ribbon campaign to help raise money and awareness for Dylan after students asked what they could do to help, said Amy Sienkowski, a counselor at the middle school.
The blue-and-black ribbons sell for $1. So far, the school has raised $1,200.
On Friday, the season’s first real snowfall blanketed the forest around Vallecito as Mark Redwine, Dylan’s father, stood alone in the doorway of his home. The couch through the door behind him is where he said he last saw Dylan.
After Dylan arrived in Durango on Nov. 18, father and son grabbed dinner and went by Walmart to pick up groceries for the week, Mark said. Dylan was visiting on a court-ordered visit.
Mark hadn’t heard much from his son lately, but that night the two hardly had a chance to talk about how Dylan liked his new home, he said.
Mark said he tried to wake his son the next morning around 7:30 before leaving to run errands, but Dylan was fast asleep. When he returned at 11:30 a.m., he said Dylan was gone, as was his backpack.
Mark vividly remembers the last vacation he took with his son, a road trip to Boston in August. They visited Fenway Park and went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. It was a dream vacation for a boy who loves baseball and is a devoted Red Sox fan.
Dylan has played Little League for years and excelled in the outfield, said his coach Paul Edwards. He wasn’t a complainer and had a passion for the game that stood out among his teammates, Edwards said.
When it comes to football, Dylan’s allegiance is with former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, his mother said.
When Tebow was traded to the New York Jets, Dylan went with him, deleting everything Broncos-related from his Facebook page.
But he prefers being outside throwing the ball to watching it on TV. He likes to snowboard, roller skate and wrestle with his brother and loves anything water-related – from water rides at the amusement park to camping trips by the river.
Many of the things Dylan loves are the same as his brother, Cory, their mother said.
The two would spend a lot of time throwing the football outside and are known to stay up late playing video games. Dylan looks up to his 21-year-old brother, Elaine said.
They went fishing together, but Dylan would quickly become bored and start skipping rocks or swimming in the lake instead. He wouldn’t just grab a fishing pole and head to the lake by himself, his mother said.
Because the brothers shared similar interests, they learned a lot together, Cory Redwine said.
“He always enjoyed doing the same things I did, so we learned a lot of things together,” he said. “All the years of playing catch and baseball, I learned as much from him as he did from me.”
A future in flux
Dylan hadn’t talked much about what he wants to be when he grows up. He tossed around the idea of joining the army after high school.
His dad wants him to go to college and has saved money to pay for it.
“I don’t have a college education, and I see how hard it is for me to make ends meet,” said Mark, who works at United Pipeline Systems. He wants more for Dylan, he said.
Family members said Dylan usually found a way to get what he wanted – video games, a ride to the roller rink and more – but they also had countless examples of his sweet gestures. He offered to give up his bed to his cousin to sleep in when she came to visit, and he always spent time with his younger cousins at family gatherings.
Everyone needs to know what an amazing, selfless, happy boy Dylan is, Elaine said, her eyes again spilling tears. Beyond sharing his story, it’s hard for her to know what else to do.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing the next day, but right now, I’m here, and I’m hoping like heck that somebody comes forward, because I know somebody knows where Dylan is,” she said.