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Ryan Larsen search continues: Crews working in closed-off Papillion recreation area

Authorities warn against spreading false information and rumors about the missing 11-year-old.
Published: May. 22, 2021 at 11:18 AM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 11:38 AM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) — For a third day, search efforts for Ryan Larsen, 11, seemed centered around Walnut Creek Recreational Area.

La Vista Police told 6 News on Saturday that the recreational area would remain closed another day as teams continued to look for Ryan, who has been missing for almost a week, presumably without food or crucial medication to treat his autism.

In an update posted just before 5 p.m., LVPD talked again about the scent picked up by a K9 unit, noting that it could be “animal, human, or otherwise.”

Tweeting their update, LVPD said they had no plans to have another news briefing this weekend unless Ryan is found. They also shared the poster of Ryan now displayed on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website.

Also on Saturday, authorities were warning the public not to spread false information and rumors as such reports hindered efforts to find Ryan.

Saturday afternoon, 6 News observed crews from Benington, Waterloo, and Yutan coming in along Turkey Road to assist with the search.

Among several agencies aiding in the search, Nebraska State Patrol was providing air support as well as personnel.

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 LVPD.

Saturday morning, LVPD tweeted there was still “no new update on the ongoing search.”

Police tweeted Friday night that dive teams would continue searching Walnut Creek.

LVPD said 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.

The news came hours after an update from LVPD Chief Bob Lausten, who said that authorities were focusing their search for Ryan in multiple areas beyond Walnut Creek Recreational Area, where much police activity has been observed in recent days.

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

Also on Friday, the Nebraska State Patrol noted that the Emergency Missing Advisory for the boy had expired, and that Ryan’s disappearance would now be considered a missing person case.

“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.

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.

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.

Earlier in the week, police had checked throughout the ductwork at the school and had even gone through several times with thermal imaging equipment, but found no trace of Ryan.

Searches this week have also focused on areas near Ryan’s home, with K9 officers checking in many directions and officers going door-to-door.

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 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)

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