Oskaloosa An Oskaloosa man's absence has caused great pain for his family since his unexplained disappearance Nov. 15.
Paulette Stout recalls the year in a somber tone, plodding from one unfortunate event to another.
Her tale starts with a Jan. 10 traffic accident involving her husband's car and a tractor-trailer rig. The accident leaves her husband severely injured and unable to work.
Months go by, and bills pile up. A settlement from the over-the-road trucking company whose vehicle was involved in the accident evaporates at the last minute. The family must take the costly step of pursuing a trial against the company.
"This has been a really bad year for us," she says.
But nothing prepares her for the worst day -- Nov. 15.
That's the day her 24-year-old son, Kevin G. Newman, leaves his girlfriend's house in Lawrence and seems to drop off the face of the Earth. Stout thinks Newman must know his family, his girlfriend and his friends are worried about him, because there have been stories about him on TV and in newspapers.
But he doesn't call. Stout finds herself crying when she thinks about what might have happened to her son.
"Twenty-one days today," she says during an interview Friday. "I've had to accept the fact that it's bad and hope it's better."
There are worrisome circumstances about Newman's disappearance. Stout has heard that a couple of weeks before her son vanished, he had been threatened by a man who was armed with a gun.
Early Nov. 15, Newman had been in a fight with the armed man and another man at a Lawrence nightclub.
Stout believes someone knows what happened to her son or at least could provide information that would help piece together his disappearance.
She grows impatient with the Lawrence Police Department. She feels it should be handling the case, since Newman worked in Lawrence and stayed there much of the time.
But Lawrence police Lt. Kevin Harmon said that because the missing persons case was filed in Jefferson County, Lawrence officers would be overstepping their bounds by taking over the investigation.
"The place to make the report was the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, and with that comes the designation that they would be the lead agency," he said. "If they need help, we'll certainly be glad to help them."
Harmon says Jefferson County officers have not requested help from the Lawrence Police Department.
Rick Jones, a Jefferson County sheriff's lieutenant who has been investigating Newman's disappearance, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Stout's impatience grows.
"I do not want to be one of these people who sit for a year or five years or 17 years and never get an answer. I want an answer," she says.
She continues to plead for help. The family has printed fliers with Newman's picture and information about him.
He was driving a red 1987 Ford Ranger XLT pickup with silver accents and rebel flags on the rear window. He was wearing jeans, a white turtleneck, a plaid flannel shirt and red boots.
Stout asks anyone with information to call the sheriff's department at (913) 863-2351.