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Ryan Larsen search: La Vista community gathers in support

La Vista Police said Wednesday they are reviewing surveillance video, particularly that captured by La Vista Keno.
Published: May. 26, 2021 at 9:40 AM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:03 AM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) — Hours after the search for Ryan Larsen, the 11-year-old boy who has been missing for 10 days, officially moved away from Walnut Creek Recreational Area, the community came together on Wednesday evening in a La Vista park to show their support for his family.

The city held a Rally for Ryan at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in Central Park. 6 News spoke with the mayor at the event, who said the event was meant to give hope to the community and show support for Ryan’s family.

“I have a son who’s autistic as well so it really kind of just hits home with me,” said Theresa O’Brian, one of the hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night. “It’s a parent’s worse nightmare to have their child go missing.”

The La Vista Police Department on Wednesday morning said their search for Ryan in the Walnut Creek Recreation Area had concluded, and authorities were now focusing their efforts on surveillance video.

“Ryan was not found there despite dive teams, air support, lowering water levels, and police K9 teams,” a news release in the LVPD tweet states. “Investigators may still return to Walnut Creek to search if new information surfaces.”

The search for the 11-year-old with autism is now focused on video surveillance from Monday, May 17, the day the La Vista boy was last seen, LVPD said.

“La Vista Keno captured an image Monday of what is believed to be Ryan,” the release states.

LVPD is asking for video from businesses or 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.”

Walnut Creek Recreation Area was open as normal again Wednesday, though authorities were advising those wanting in the water do so elsewhere.

LVPD was urging the public to use the See It, Say It, Send It app to submit tips, but to also “be mindful of unsubstantiated rumors circulating on this case.”

Police have repeatedly stressed that all confirmed information will come from LVPD and on its official Twitter account.

“We will also update our local media partners,” the release states, noting that no media briefings would be held Wednesday unless Ryan is found or there’s a break in the case.

Continuing coverage

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. 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 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 Benington, 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 had no new information to share Tuesday 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.”

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. 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.”

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)
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a poster for Ryan Larsen, who has...
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a poster for Ryan Larsen, who has been missing since Monday, May 17, 2021.(National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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