Gold panner left Newport, wound up dead

Dan Vinge was found dead, wrapped in material, along Highway 30

Howard Daniel Vinge - Dan to his friends - in an undated DMV picture released October 3, 2016
Howard Daniel Vinge - Dan to his friends - in an undated DMV picture released October 3, 2016

NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — Dan Vinge didn’t have much money, but he loved panning for gold in Northwest rivers.

The 71-year-old lived in Agate Beach RV Park in Newport for about 3 years. Recently, he offered a man and woman a place to live.

In exchange, neighbor Kenneth Woods told KOIN 6 News, they helped him fix up his motorhome and his car, a 1991 Lincoln Continental.

Agate Beach RV Park in Newport, October 4, 2016 (KOIN)
Agate Beach RV Park in Newport, October 4, 2016 (KOIN)

“Dan would do anything for anybody,” Woods said. “Actually he’d do anything for anybody for nothing.”

Woods said Vinge moved to the couch and the couple took over his bedroom. They cooked his meals, too.

But Vinge was having a hard time paying rent.

Kenneth Woods was a friend of Dan Vinge at the Agate Beach RV Park in Newport, October 4, 2016 (KOIN)
Kenneth Woods was a friend of Dan Vinge at the Agate Beach RV Park in Newport, October 4, 2016 (KOIN)

“He was going to take the Lincoln up to Seattle or Portland and try and sell it and buy a small truck, 4-wheel drive, and pull it behind the motorhome,” Woods said.

On Friday, though, investigators said a citizen found Vinge’s body wrapped in some sort of material along Highway 30 about 4 miles east of Astoria.

Three days after that, his motorhome was discovered east of Seaside. A neighbor there told KOIN 6 News he spoke with a couple inside about 6 days ago.

Scott Knutson saw people in a motorhome in Seaside later found to be Dan Vinge's, October 4, 2016 (KOIN)
Scott Knutson saw people in a motorhome in Seaside later found to be Dan Vinge’s, October 4, 2016 (KOIN)

“When I got up and left the next morning, they unhooked the vehicle on the back of the RV and were burning some papers between the RV and their car,” Scott Knutson told KOIN 6 News. “That’s the last I ever seen them.”

Investigators have only said they are interested in knowing more about anyone who may have been traveling with Vinge.

The Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation.

This motorhome belonging to Dan Vinge was found 13 miles east of Astoria, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)
This motorhome belonging to Dan Vinge was found east of Seaside, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)