Oskaloosa An Oskaloosa man's disappearance has ripped the joy from Thanksgiving for his mother.
Nobody in Paulette Stout's family celebrates the holidays quite as joyously as her son, Kevin Newman.
"He would get up every Thanksgiving, every Christmas Eve and every Christmas morning, and he would always get all of us out of bed," said Stout, of Oskaloosa. "He'd come here, eat breakfast and holler at everybody ... that was Kevin."
Today, though, Stout isn't expecting to awaken to the sound of her 24-year-old son's voice.
Newman has been missing since Nov. 15, when he left his girlfriend's residence in Lawrence.
"He left at 7:30 in the morning to come here," said Stout, whose son was living at home when he disappeared. "He never arrived. It's like he just dropped off the face of the Earth."
It wasn't the first time Newman ducked out of sight for a while. But it was the first time he left without telling anybody, his mother said.
Newman has never missed or quit work without giving notice, she said. But he hasn't shown up at either of his two jobs since the 15th. He also doesn't leave behind paychecks, like the one waiting for him at E & E Display Group.
"Everybody can get out of character, but there's a limit," Stout said. "No matter if he was acting out of character, he wouldn't go this far."
Since Stout reported Newman missing on Nov. 19, Jefferson County sheriff's officers and Lawrence police have launched investigations into his whereabouts.
Newman's family has distributed fliers to convenience stores and Topeka and Lawrence nightclubs where he hung out.
The family has talked to reporters, convinced at least one Topeka TV station to televise Newman's picture and has sent fliers with over-the-road truckers to tack up at out-of-state roadstops.
Stout hasn't found her son. On a day when her family usually celebrates, she's fearing the worst.
"The information is out there. If he could get to a phone, he would at least call and say, 'Mom, call off the dogs, I'm all right,'" she said.
The circumstances of Newman's disappearance have added to Stout's worry.
Stout said that before he went to his girlfriend's house on the 15th, he had been in a fight outside Coyote's, a nightspot at 1003 E. 23rd.
She said Newman walked away the winner, without having suffered a scratch or seriously hurting the two men with whom he reportedly fought.
He had planned to stay with his sister in Lawrence that night, but told his girlfriend he needed to stay with her. The reason: The men he had fought with could find him at his sister's place but didn't know where his girlfriend lived.
It wasn't the first problem between Newman and the two men.
"They'd had an ongoing argument," Stout said. "He'd been worried."
Another worrisome tidbit came from a caller who reported seeing Newman's truck, unoccupied, Nov. 18 on Kansas Highway 10 near Lawrence. When authorities checked out the tip, the truck was gone.
Officials called area towing companies. None had moved the truck.
Stout is wrestling with questions she can't answer. Where's the truck? Did the men Newman was fighting with have anything to do with his disappearance?
During an interview Wednesday, she pleaded to Lawrence police to share the family's sense of urgency.
"The more days that pass, the worse it gets," she said.
Today is Thanksgiving. It's time for Newman to come home.
"Do you know how much I'd love for that to happen? Then I'd kill him ...," she said, chuckling softly. "But at least I'd know where he was at."