La Vista Police, multiple agencies continue search for Ryan Larsen

The EMA on the 11-year-old has expired, making this a missing-person case.
Multiple agencies are working to find Ryan Larsen, 11, who has been missing since Monday.
Published: May. 21, 2021 at 10:33 AM CDT|Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 8:17 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LA VISTA, Neb. (WOWT) — La Vista Police said Friday night in an update on the search for missing 11-year-old Ryan Larsen that search dogs had picked up a scent of some sort, but that there was no way to tell any sort of details about what they were detecting.

Chief Bob Lausten said in an update Friday afternoon that authorities are focusing their search for Ryan, missing since Monday, in multiple areas beyond Walnut Creek Recreational Area, where much police activity has been observed in recent days.

“We’re 96 hours into this, and I’m really worried,” Lausten said.

In a news conference with the Nebraska State Patrol, authorities said the Emergency Missing Advisory regarding Ryan would expire, and an NSP release was sent with that information shortly after the news conference ended. Ryan’s disappearance will now be considered a missing person case as teams continue to search for the boy.

“We know the EMA was effective,” NSP Capt. Matt Sutter said during the news conference Friday. The EMA lasts 72 hours, and that threshold happened at 11 p.m. Thursday.

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten gave an update Friday afternoon on the search for Ryan Larsen, 11, missing since Monday.

Local, state, and federal agencies continue to assist with the search. Sarpy County K9s are supporting LVPD officers, and search-and-rescue dogs from Des Moines were also heading to the area. Omaha Police has provided additional support including aerial patrols, and Council Bluffs Police officers have also been helping with the search. Yutan and other agencies are sending dive teams, Lausten said.

“I’m overwhelmed by the support,” he said.

Lausten said Friday that a lead led them to continue searching the Walnut Creek area, but he would not share any details about that information. He also said that authorities had no indication Ryan had a backpack with him.

Police went through the school several times with thermal imaging equipment but found no trace of Ryan. Monday and Tuesday, LVPD police searched La Vista elementary school — even in the ductwork, Lausten said.

Search crews looking for the 11-year-old boy missing since Monday were focusing their efforts on Walnut Creek Recreational Area on Friday.

Several LVPD officers know Ryan personally, Lausten said, noting he had brought officers treats during the holidays.

Lausten said search teams were focused on more areas than just Walnut Creek, but he wouldn’t specify those areas. Walnut Creek has been a focus because “we know Ryan has been there before. We think a lead was developed,” he said, noting it was checked out.

The chief also asked that the public refrain from calling in suggestions to authorities, saying that anyone with a credible tip should contact Sarpy County Crimestoppers at 402-592-STOP (7867); or call 911.

LVPD called off volunteers Friday as multiple law enforcement agencies continued their search for Ryan.

In a tweet Friday morning, LVPD suggested those who want to help should instead offer their support by way of donations to The Salvation Army or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Volunteers had been helping to look for Ryan since he went missing on at noon Monday.

Nebraska State Patrol on Friday was blocking off entrances to Walnut Creek Recreation Area, an area authorities have continually zeroed in on during the search for the missing 11-year-old.

Thursday’s search focused again on areas near Ryan’s home, with K9 officers checking in many directions and officers going door-to-door. Authorities blocked off access to the Walnut Creek area Thursday night to discourage people from coming in and possibly scaring off Ryan if he was hiding there, according to La Vista Police.

SEARCH COVERAGE: Monday May 17 | Tuesday May 18 | Wednesday May 19 | Thursday May 20 | Friday May 21

Search teams were also deployed on waterways at the recreational area and near La Vista Central Park on Thursday, LVPD said.

“Autism experts have shared that children with autism gravitate toward water,” the LVPD release states.

LVPD Chief Bob Lausten shed some light Thursday evening on the medications that Ryan has been on and the effects he might be struggling with after missing doses.

“We have a list of what medications he’s on. We’ve talked to doctors about the effects of those medications, and that’s concerning, that some of the things that he needs to be on,” Lausten said. “You can still survive without those meds, but it helps you cope with the different things that are out there.”

Adults and children on the autism spectrum are each very different, Justin Dougherty, executive director of Autism Action Partnership, cautions against it, told 6 News on Thursday.

”If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism,” Dougherty said. “Whatever works with one child or adult with autism could have the exact opposite impact for another.”

LVPD requested assistance from the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Wednesday.

What to do if you see Ryan

Ryan, a sixth-grade student, was last seen Monday leaving school. 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.

Ryan Larsen, 11, has been missing since he walked away from his school in La Vista on Monday,...
Ryan Larsen, 11, has been missing since he walked away from his school in La Vista on Monday, May 17, 2021. He was last seen wearing this exact sweatshirt, La Vista Police said.(La Vista Police Department)

Digital Producer Kelli Kellogg contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that Des Moines Police were providing assistance in the search. 6 News regrets the error.

Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.