Family of Danny Clune hungry for answers
Posted: Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005
By KEITH KINNAIRD News editor

SANDPOINT ---
Friends and family of Danny Clune want more of them and won't rest until they get them.
"We really don't know what happened and there's a lot of unanswered questions," said Clune's mother, Joan, as she packed up her late son's belongings at his Sandpoint apartment on Tuesday.

Danny Clune's body was found in the Pend Oreille River by a duck hunter on Dec. 18, some 40 days after he was reported missing. Friends had last seen him at a Sagle tavern on Nov. 6.

Many have speculated Danny, who had been drinking that night, fell into the river while walking across the U.S. Highway 95 Long Bridge back to Sandpoint. A cause of death has not been released, although investigators have said preliminary evidence suggests Danny drowned.

But the case is far from over, according to Joan Clune.

She said a 15-minute span of time that led up to her son's disappearance remains unaccounted for, and she questions why one of Danny's shoes, which was found before he was, was still tied when it washed ashore. Joan Clune, a first aid volunteer in her home state of New Jersey, said she's worked drownings before and never encountered one where a tied shoe came off.

"It's not over," she said through the unmistakable brogue of her birthplace, New York City's Bronx borough.
Amid boxes containing books by M. Somerset Maugham and texts on computer programming and blues music, Joan Clune folded up her first-born son's clothing, sometimes pausing over items with crystal-clear recollections on when they were purchased and under what circumstances.

She also remembered what brought her son to North Idaho in the first place. Danny Clune, while working for a commerce dot-com in Manhattan, witnessed the airliners slam into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Joan Clune said her son was to have a breakfast meeting in one of the towers on the morning of the attack, but it was called off the night before.

Danny loved the city, but the atmosphere had changed following the terrorist attacks, Joan Clune said.
"You could see he was very affected. The city had lost some of its allure for him," she said.
Clune had first come to Sandpoint to visit a close friend since childhood, Kendall Wishnick. After the attacks, Clune decided to relocate to Sandpoint, a move his family considered transitional. After he was settled in, his family came west to visit.

"I thought this was a really good place for him," Joan said.

Clune, a Boston College graduate with a degree in computer science, found work here as a programmer for Bookcrossing.com, a Web site that promotes and facilitates the sharing of books and literature.
Clune was an avid snowboarder and a fan of the band Phish, a Vermont rock quartet known for its lengthy improvisational jams and devoted cult-like following. Clune had confessed to friends he felt he was outgrowing the music, but not the social community that's built around it.

Danny Clune was also known for his sense of humor and creativity. Realizing every month on the calendar boasts a holiday except August, Danny Clune resolved to change that by creating his own -- Super Fun Day. On the appointed August weekday, dozens of Clune's friends would gather to celebrate.

The Clune family is keeping the tradition alive by hosting Super Fun Day at their Point Pleasant, N.J. home next August. Hundreds showed for Danny's memorial service and his family expects that and more will be on hand to celebrate Super Fun Day 2005.

Joan Clune admits she was initially concerned about how her son's disappearance would be handled by authorities in rural Idaho. But after talking with Sandpoint Police Det. Steve Feldhausen and Bonner County Sheriff's Det. Howard Burke, she said her fears were allayed.

"I don't feel the need to have any outside investigators here. I think they're doing a super job and this is their investigation," she said. "They have more questions than I have."

A cloud of suspicion still lingers over the events of Nov. 6. Joan Clune does not believe her son impulsively decided to walk home alone, as Danny was known for his deliberate nature and tendency to develop and stick to plans.

Joan Clune also believes there's somebody out there who knows something, but for some reason won't come forward.

"I won't rest. My son's gone and I might be back in New Jersey, but I want to know what happened. There's that 15 minutes where it doesn't make any sense and I want to know what happened in that 15 minutes," she said.

• Anybody with information about Clune's disappearance is asked to call Bonner County Sheriff's officials at 265-5525. Additional information about the case can be found on the Web (www.finddanny.com).