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Listing Of Unsolved Murders & Missing People In Canada => Nova Scotia Unsolved Murders & Missing People => Topic started by: Besani on April 02, 2013, 11:16:53 AM

Title: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: Besani on April 02, 2013, 11:16:53 AM
Howard Newell
Missing since January 22, 1955 from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics

Age at Time of Disappearance: 6 years old
Circumstances of Disappearance
On January 22, 1955, Howard Newell vanished while walking home from a woodlot where members of his family were cutting firewood.
In the days and weeks that followed, the largest search in Yarmouth County history unfolded in the woods and marsh areas of Little River Harbour. More than 1,000 searchers scoured the area searching for the little boy, but there was never any trace of him.
The police concluded that the boy had likely drowned and his body had been washed out to sea.

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Yarmouth Rural RCMP
Title: Re: Howard Newell |6| Yarmouth
Post by: Besani on April 02, 2013, 11:57:11 AM
Were it not for the few faded photographs and the memories, it would almost be like Howard Newell had never existed.

One day the six-and-a-half-year-old boy was here.

That same day he was gone. Never to be seen again.

Fifty-three years of never to be seen again.

His disappearance, which to this day lives on as a lingering mystery, happened Saturday, Jan. 22, 1955 as he was walking to his Little River Harbour home from a woodlot where members of his family had been cutting firewood. He never made it home.

There was a massive search. There was an RCMP investigation. And there has been a consistent rumour of what happened to him.

But the one thing there has never been is closure. No formal recognition of his life.

Which is why on Saturday, July 5, Howard’s surviving brothers and sisters will be holding an 11 a.m. mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Melbourne to celebrate his brief life. The mass will include the sharing of memories from his childhood, as well as recollections of the search at the time of his disappearance.

The family will also be placing a monument for Howard in the Melbourne cemetery. It will lie between the graves of his mother Loretta and father Harold so that, in a sense, the family can be together again. The memorial will also give the surviving members of his family a place to go to remember him.

This year marks the year that Howard Newell would have turned 60 years old.

But instead of aging into a grown man, he remains a little boy lost.


How many people does it take to search for a little boy?

Not enough to find him in 1955, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The search for Howard Newell was extensive, exhaustive and exceptional for the time.

Well over 1,000 people were said to have searched the woods, fields, marshes, lakes, river, gully and the bay in the area in which he lived. Ponds and other waterways were pumped and drained.

But all that was ever found was…nothing.

There was no trace of Howard Newell.

The search was conducted by land, by air and by sea. Men from the army reserve in Yarmouth, and from the navy training base in Cornwallis, as well as aircraft from Shearwater, took part. Firefighters also helped with the search.

For some, the search literally meant the world came to a stop. At Kenney Construction, where Howard’s dad Harold was employed, the company suspended their construction work and sent all men and the necessary equipment to help with the search.

High school classes sat half empty as students, still searching for what they wanted to be when they ‘grew up’, instead searched for a little boy. Bethany Bible College closed its doors so its male pupils and staff could join the search.

The police enlisted the assistance of fish draggers from Wedgeport to search the river.

Simply put, it was the largest organized search Yarmouth County had ever seen.
Churches, including those not of Howard’s family’s Roman Catholic faith, offered their physical and spiritual support to a family as lost in answers, as Howard was lost to the world. And still nothing.

As they searched, people held out hope that the little boy was still alive. But the days were long, and the nights were cold.

The official police report lists the disappearance of Howard Newell as a likely drowning, with his tiny body having been washed out to sea.

Many, including his family, are skeptical, disbelieving of that conclusion.

In a February 1995 interview with Yarmouth Vanguard editor Fred Hatfield, Harold Newell recounted rushing home after hearing the news that his son was missing. The first thing he did was head to the water. “I went all around everywhere where he could have got through, he wasn’t in the river,” the father said. The theory that his son had fallen through the ice, to him, seemed flawed from the start.

Ice covered the water. On its frozen surface you could see the footprints of birds, even places where crows had laid down and broken the ice with their weight. Newell believed there was no way his son could have broken through the ice without leaving behind tracks, a trace, a sign.

It just didn’t make sense. And as far as Harold Newell was concerned, it just wasn’t possible.

So what then?

Years after Howard’s disappearance, a rumour started to surface about what had happened to the youngster. The story never goes away. Howard’s father spoke about it in the 1995 Vanguard interview, not long after someone had showed up at his house suggesting the stories were true.

 It goes like this.

The little boy was accidentally hit by a truck that was rounding a corner. Three men picked him up, placed him in the back of the vehicle and drove to a residence in Wedgeport where one of them lived. They hid the body until the next day when they went into the woods, placed the little boy in a pile of old car tires and set it ablaze.

But the rumour has stayed just that – a rumour.

And it didn’t change the official police conclusion of the cause of Howard Newell’s disappearance. In 1988 the RCMP thoroughly re-investigated the disappearance of Howard Newell. They re-interviewed the family and original investigators. The police spoke with the people on the rumour character list. Any other person whose name arose during the probe received a knock at their door. There was a lie detector test given to one of the three people rumoured to be in the truck. The person passed.

In his notes in the 1988 police file, RCMP investigator Brian Oldford, then a corporal at the time, states, “Unfortunately there was no one who can say 100 per cent that young Howard drowned in 1955. Until someone can the child’s disappearance will continue to bother the Newells.”

But at the end of the day the police stayed with their original conclusion. “We all agreed that there are several possibilities into how the boy disappeared,” Cpl. Oldford wrote. “But the most logical is that he drowned while crossing the marshland gully.”

The rumours, the police concluded, were unfounded.

Still, even police investigators of today admit the disappearance of Howard Newell continues to hold great fascination.

At first glance, the police file is a non-descript manila folder. But peer inside, says Cpl. Dana Parsons of the RCMP’s major crime unit, and it continues to intrigue after so many years.

What happened to the little boy? Did the earth just swallow him up? With no body ever found you can’t help but wonder, Cpl. Parsons admits, even though technically this is not considered to be an unsolved case – at least not by police standards.

But to his family, Howard’s disappearance remains a  mystery. “There was a boy there and he was walking around and all of a sudden he’s gone.”

So said the boy’s father in this newspaper 40 years after his son went missing.  “We’re still wondering what happened to him.”

Harold Newell died two years later, never knowing.
Title: Re: Howard Newell |6| Yarmouth
Post by: Besani on April 02, 2013, 12:00:49 PM
-Zita’s story -

Zita Newell was 12.

Unlike her younger brothers whose memories are cloudy or scant, she vividly remembers the day that she never saw her brother Howard again.

In a way she felt responsible. Although no once else blamed her, she blamed herself. As the older of the siblings, and mature for her age, in the home she was a second mother, the built-in babysitter, someone to watch over Howard. “I remember crying for weeks, months on end thinking it was my fault. Of course it wasn’t, but when these things happen….” she says from her home in Toronto. “I took it very, very hard.”

Everyone did.

Her grandfather, who lived in the same house, became a shell of himself. A hostage to his bed, convincing himself he couldn’t even walk anymore – until the day that Zita had finally had enough and literally pulled him from his bed, reminding him that life had to go on.

But, of course, it was a different life for the family.

While Howard was always in their thoughts, rarely was his name brought up in the years after he was gone. Zita says it just wasn’t something they talked about.

It hurt too much.

Asked what it was like after Howard disappeared, his sister says it was pretty much how you’d expected. “It was terrible right away,” she says.

That Saturday in January 1955 wasn’t a bad day weather-wise, Zita, now a Deveau, recalls. Her two younger brothers Gerry and Howard wanted to go to the lot where the men were cutting firewood. So off they went.

It was her grandmother’s birthday that day and the mailman had just arrived to deliver a gift. Were it not for what was about to take place, it probably would have been the kind of day that later in life you’d have no reason to sadly remember, or to even think about.

The normalcy of the day was broken when her mother jumped up from what she was doing. “’Zita, go get Howard’,” she remembers her mother saying.

Almost with a sense that something was wrong. “I just said, ‘Wait a minute,’” she recalls. Others had already come out of the woods. As they approached the family did a head count.

One person was missing.

Where was Howard?

Her uncle said he was coming behind them but the sister didn’t hesitate. She ran into the woods, calling out her brother’s name. There were no tracks. No Howard. What had she missed, she wondered? “So I started retracing my steps and calling his name, stopping and listening in case he had fallen down.”

But there was nothing. “Then I kind of starting panicking. My sister and one of my cousins appeared, we split up to search.”

Still nothing.

When they didn’t emerge from the woods, that panic spread to the others. More and more family members and neighbours ventured into the woods. It marked the start of what would be a massive search that would go on for weeks. “They covered every inch of ground for miles around,” says Zita about the lengthy search that yielded no results. “There wasn’t an inch untouched.”

So does she think her brother drowned? “I don’t believe that for one second,” she says. “I never did.”


-Gerry’s story -

Gerry Newell, the baby of the family, was around five years old.

Old enough at the time to realize things weren’t right. Not old enough to form memories he can now rely on as an older man.

So instead he lives with the fact that he had a brother that he barely remembers.

Even ‘that day’ is sketchy. “I have sort of glimpses of the event,” he says from his home in Truro. “I’ve talked with my sisters. I have recollections and I try them on my sisters and they say, well no, that’s not quite right.”

But he remembers being with Howard that Saturday. They started out earlier in the day playing out on the ice. Then they went to the woodlot where the others were.

Eventually it was time to leave. “We were walking together, the last ones to leave. I said I’m going to run ahead and catch the men.”

His brother would follow behind. Maybe taking a shortcut.

Although Gerry doesn’t mention this – he might not even remember this – Zita says the last anyone remembers seeing Howard he was putting on a coat as he followed behind. He had one arm in a sleeve. She was told the boys’ uncle turned and told Howard to hurry up.

I’m coming, was his response. Some say he took a shortcut.

You can picture the scene in your head.  A little boy, stumbling maybe, as he tried to walk and dress himself at the same time.

Doing what kids do.

Being a kid.

Gerry was a kid too. Which is why, thinking back – while he’s sure that it was a scary and confusing time – he remembers the search as an exciting time too.


The same word his brother Brian uses to describe what it was like for a youngster watching as men dressed in army clothes came in and out of the woods, with hundreds more people coming and going and airplanes flying overhead. “There were all sorts of things happening and I wasn’t old enough to recognize the big tragedy at the time,” says Gerry.

It was a lot for a five-year-old boy to absorb, to understand.

But years ago, while at his sister Zita’s house, the two of them pulled out newspaper clippings from 1955. He hadn’t read the newspapers at the time of Howard’s disappearance, for the simple reason he was too young, he couldn’t read. “So I pulled them out and started reading them but then I had to stop, I couldn’t keep going,” he said, thinking about his parents, putting himself in their shoes, in the shoes of any parents. “I just thought to myself, how awful to be the parents.” - Howard’s story -

Howard Newell’s siblings describe him as a smart kid.

Just in Grade 1, attending a two-room schoolhouse in Melbourne, not only could he print his name, but he could write it too they say. “He could do my homework, where I didn’t have a clue,” says Brian.

Zita calls him “one of those smart kids.”

And he was religious, she says. Yes, he was still the type of kid to play in the dirt, but when it came time for the children to place their Christmas wishes – for that one special gift that they wanted – Howard’s special request isn’t what you would have expected a six-year-old boy to ask for. “He wanted a picture of Mary and Jesus, he wanted the Immaculate Heart,” Zita says.

So it’s what he got. Paper pictures inside wooden frames that he hung in his room over his bed. They were close by at night when he said his prayers.

The older sister talks about another time Howard went missing. It was while some of the family was with their father in Greenwood where he was working on a construction project. Howard and his brother Gerry were playing outside. When their mother called for them to come in there was no Howard.

The four-year-old was eventually found wandering down the road, not wearing his jacket. He said he was hot so he had thrown his jacket into the water.

Two years later he was missing again. Some believing the water had claimed this little boy.

Says his sister, “I don’t know if this was something that was just meant to be.”

So one day he was here. That same day he was gone.

Howard Newell never played again with his brothers and sisters. He never knelt by his bedside to say his prayers. He never had a girlfriend, he never married, he never had children.

There was no funeral mass. There was no body to bury. No obituary. No headstone bearing his name.

Not only did he never come back, it’s almost like he was never here.

His sister Zita couldn’t bear to let things end like this. She was the one who first who suggested to her family that they hold a memorial mass for Howard. The event at the church in Melbourne this July will be followed with a reception at the Melbourne Hall where there will be a display of memorabilia pertaining to Howard. “A day doesn’t go by that he’s not there with me. I’ve said to my brothers and sisters, he’s my guardian angel,” Zita says. “There’s nothing anywhere to say he ever existed, and I just can’t go to my grave leaving that behind.”

The grave marker to be placed in the cemetery in Melbourne bearing Howard’s name will include the year he was born and the year he disappeared.

And while his body won’t lie between those of his parents, his family believes his spirit will.

Because of this, Zita says, her brother Howard will never be alone again.

Title: Re: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: YarmouthAnon on March 12, 2014, 05:37:48 PM
For many years I've heard family members mention about a story involving my late Grandfather, from Yarmouth, NS.
I can't seem to be able to locate his obituary right at the moment so I can't say for sure how old he was at the time of Howards' death. I believe late teens or early twenties, but I could be mistaken.
But the story is based among the lines of my grandfather and a couple of friends out for a drive, when they struck and killed a little boy.
Being worried, they later burned a car and the little boy in a fire, and they were never found guilty of it.
Out of curiosity for more details about what happened and what the name of that little boy was, I came to Unsolved Canada and typed in Yarmouth. It wasn't hard to find the story, and to learn the little boys' name. Howard. I had no idea when I clicked this story that it would for sure be the one I was looking for but after reading about the rumors that people had heard, the hairs on my arms stood up because it was so much alike to the story that I've always heard. My family doesn't tend to talk about it very much but I'm quite sure they've always said that my Grandfather--later on in life, did say he was present when the boy died.
Title: Re: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: justsayin on March 13, 2014, 10:44:42 AM
What a heart wrenching story! 

I wonder what would possess those young men to make a decision like that (it they, in fact, did) instead of owning up to the accident.

How sad that family never got the real closure that comes with finding the remains. 

What a horrible cancerous burden it must have been for those young men, if they carried that secret all those years.
Title: Re: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: jobo on March 13, 2014, 11:14:17 AM
Wow, YarmouthAnon....thanks for joining.   So your family rumour is the same as the rumour back in the day.   Do you know if your grandfather and/or his buddies were interviewed?  I see in 1988 the RCMP supposedly interviewed people on the rumour character list.
Perhaps there could be Howard's remains found in Wedgeport still?
Title: Re: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: Besani on March 14, 2014, 07:29:42 PM
I hope someone gives the location to his remains. It's been too long, everyone involved in his death are old or probably passed on themselves but this little boy deserves to come home. Do the right thing and tell them where he is already. Obviously the rumor is true because Howard never showed up yet...
Title: Re: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: YarmouthAnon on March 27, 2014, 11:36:58 AM
I have no way of knowing if he was one of the men interviewed, since it was "rumor" I don't believe the names of those they interviewed were written out anywhere.
If there was somehow any articles about who they interviewed and what their findings were then I'd know for sure if he was any of the men named.
It's been so long too. If they were unable to find anything back in 1955 in terms of evidence then they probably took precautions to get rid of any possible evidence that was there.
Sadly, I doubt this will ever be a solved case for the family.
Title: Re: Howard Newell - Age 6 - January 22, 1955 / Yarmouth
Post by: December on February 10, 2019, 02:13:13 PM
 YarmouthAnon, There is a possibility the RCMP records for the Newell case are still on file in Ottawa .After 30 years they will release information, although they have the right to delete certain parts .I  have been working on a murder that occurred in 1955, in Nova Scotia as well .They provided me with a disc that i had printed off , and i had over 100 pages .It provided me with some very important clues ,enough to sew up the case .It took some time to acquire the information , but it was well worth it .The names you seek may be in that info .December