Ryan Larsen search: Two months in, La Vista investigators looking for leads
LA VISTA, Neb. (WOWT) - On the eve of the two-month anniversary of Ryan Larsen’s disappearance, La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten said Friday that investigators are still working to follow up on some initial information in the case.
Lausten told 6 News that investigators are continuing to work the case, but there’s not a lot of additional information coming about the boy, now age 12, reported missing May 17.
He said investigators believe someone knows something, and they need them to come forward.
The last major clue in the case came at the end of June, when authorities said they had found the umbrella they believed Ryan had with him when he went missing.
LVPD has repeatedly urged those with information in the case to submit a tip via the See It, Say It, Send It app.
What to do if you see Ryan
Ryan, a sixth-grade student, was last seen leaving school Monday, May 17. He is described as white, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown hair and hazel eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, an Old Navy shirt, and was carrying a polka-dot umbrella.
If you see Ryan, authorities say not to call his name; instead, keep your distance and call 911. Anyone with information about his location should call Sarpy County Crimestoppers at 402-592-STOP (7867); or call 911. LVPD is also urging the public to use its See It, Say It, Send It app to submit tips, but to also “be mindful of unsubstantiated rumors circulating on this case.”
Monday May 17: La Vista Police ask the community’s help to find Ryan Larsen, an 11-year-old La Vista boy with autism, last seen that day leaving La West Elementary at noon. A neighbor at the apartment complex where his family lives later reports seeing Ryan there shortly after he left school. Nebraska State Patrol issues an Emergency Missing Advisory for Ryan.
Tuesday May 18: LVPD responds to two possible sightings of Ryan, including one near the La Vista Library.
Wednesday May 19: LVPD asks for federal assistance in the search for Ryan. The FBI and FEMA become involved in the case.
Thursday May 20: LVPD puts up a caution tape perimeter around Walnut Creek Lake in Papillion to discourage groups from gathering there as authorities focus their search for Ryan there. In a news conference that night, Police Chief Bob Lausten urges the public not to speculate or share rumors, saying it does more harm than good.
Friday May 21: La Vista Police reveal that K9 units picked up a scent of some kind at Walnut Creek Recreational Area, but Lausten says authorities are still searching in other places, too. Nebraska State Patrol says in a news conference that the Emergency Missing Advisory regarding Ryan would expire as it’s been in place for 72 hours. Local, state, and federal agencies continue to assist with the search.
Saturday May 22: LVPD tells 6 News that the recreational area would remain closed another day as teams continued to look for Ryan. 6 News observes crews from Bennington, Waterloo, and Yutan coming in along Turkey Road to assist with the search. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website displays a “missing” poster of Ryan. LVPD later reveals that the Papio Natural Resources District began lowering Walnut Creek Lake around 7 p.m.
Sunday May 23: La Vista Police reveal that dive teams finished preliminary searches in the area Saturday night, noting that lowering the creek levels “will give search teams better physical and visual access” to the water. Police also passed along resources from Project Harmony to help families talk about Ryan’s disappearance with children.
Monday May 24: In a news conference, Chief Lausten says K9 officers have given three indications. Noting that they could have picked up an animal or human scent, or something else, the chief says multiple dogs had hit in the same area — “one Friday, one Saturday, and one (Monday)” — so search efforts become focused on the northeast end of Walnut Creek. Divers are able to access that area, but Ryan isn’t found.
Tuesday May 25: Authorities have no new information to share on the search, but said they believe Walnut Creek Recreational Area has been thoroughly searched.
Wednesday May 26: La Vista Police says they are focusing search efforts on surveillance video, particularly one from La Vista Keno taking the day Ryan was last seen. LVPD asks businesses and homeowners along Harrison Street, between 72nd and 96th streets, to check their security footage and let police know if they see “any sign of Ryan.”
Thursday May 27: La Vista Police reported no new developments Thursday as they continued their search for Ryan. They also asked that the family’s privacy to be respected. “We are updating them frequently on our search for Ryan, and they are understandably fearful and concerned. Please be understanding of their decision regarding public comments or lack thereof.”
Friday May 28: La Vista Police held a press conference and mention that they will continue their search next week in different areas. The police are still working with the FBI, Omaha Police, Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, and Nebraska State Patrol. “They’re anchors that help with manpower, personal, and resources.”
Saturday May 29: Six fire departments in the Omaha-metro area join the La Vista Police in the continued search. Volunteer firefighters and divers from Ashland, Bennington, Council Bluffs, Plattsmouth, Waterloo, and Yutan were seen near Walnut Creek.
Monday May 31: LVPD says that half of the department’s 40 officers are assigned to Ryan’s case, but that amid the search, officers are also balancing service calls. Captain D.J. Barcal tells 6-News: “We still have an obligation to the citizens to enforce all the laws and attend to their needs.”
Tuesday June 1: Chief Lausten says 80 personnel from the Omaha-metro, some from Redoak, Iowa, were canvassing areas close to Ryan’s home near 83rd and Harrison streets; and near La Vista Keno, an area authorities believe Ryan was last seen.
Wednesday June 2: LVPD said authorities are reviewing information gathered during the previous day’s door-to-door canvas in hope of developing any potential new information or leads. Surveillance video is sent to Quantico to be enhanced; Chief Lausten says Ryan’s mother does believe it is him in the recording.
Sunday June 6: As authorities enter the third week since 11-year-old Ryan Larsen went missing, the search for the La Vista boy continues to largely focused on the Walnut Creek Recreation Area, a place familiar to him.
Tuesday June 8: As the family of Ryan Larsen marked the boy’s 12th birthday without him, the La Vista Police chief told 6 News that law enforcement is continuing to analyze all leads in the case. Authorities are reviewing — and pursuing — video from additional business, looking more closely at sex offenders in the area, and staying in touch with Ryan’s family. The boy’s mother, Tammy, was at a birthday event for Ryan that evening, but told 6 News it’s still too emotional to talk about her son’s disappearance.
Wednesday June 9: With the public’s help, La Vista Police identified a woman they were looking for who they said may have had information about the case.
Thursday June 17: La Vista Police tweeted a photo of a person they’re looking for who they say “may be a potential witness,” emphasizing the person is not a suspect in the case. About 45 minutes later, they said the person had made contact with them.
Tuesday June 29: Chief Lausten reports that authorities found the umbrella they believed Ryan had with him when he went missing, confirming what investigators already believed: that he had returned to the apartment complex area after leaving school the day he disappeared.
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