Ryan D. Larsen

Ryan, circa 2021; The sweatshirt Ryan he was wearing when he disappeared

  • Missing Since 05/17/2021
  • Missing From La Vista, Nebraska
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 06/08/2009 (14)
  • Age 11 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'8, 125 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A black and gray zippered hooded sweatshirt or sweat jacket with orange lining inside the hood, an Old Navy shirt, blue jeans and black New Balance sneakers. Carrying a polka-dot umbrella which was later found. A photo of Ryan in the sweatshirt is posted with this case summary.
  • Medical Conditions Ryan has autism, Tourette's syndrome and epilepsy, and needs medication which he doesn't have with him. Although he's considered high-functioning, he is usually non-verbal with strangers, and he has a history of running and hiding in small places.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes.

Details of Disappearance

Ryan was last seen in La Vista, Nebraska on May 17, 2021. He was a sixth-grader at La Vista West Elementary School. After becoming frustrated with a math problem, Ryan went to another room to be by himself and calm down. An adult was supposed to be supervising him, but one supervisor had to leave the room and their replacement was late.

During the time he was not supervised, between 11:55 a.m. and 12:05 p.m., Ryan left the school campus. At 12:27 p.m., the school notified his mother that he was missing. At 12:29 p.m. the school called 911, and police arrived five minutes later to begin a search.

A neighbor saw Ryan at 1:45 p.m. at Southfield Apartments about two blocks from his school on 84th Street and Harrison Street. He was holding his umbrella at the time. Ryan lived at the apartment complex with his mother and one older sister, but he couldn't have gone inside his apartment after leaving school because he didn't have the key.

He has never been heard from again. More than six weeks later, his umbrella was found near a dumpster behind Southfield Apartments. This is the same place where he was last seen on the day of his disappearance.

Due to his autism, Ryan has a history of running away and hiding. The police referred to him as "the king of hide-and-seek." Due to his habit of running, he had been enrolled in Project Lifesaver, which equips vulnerable people with a GPS tracking bracelet so they can be found if they go missing. However, Ryan repeatedly cut off the tracker and eventually his mother stopped making him wear it.

In spite of his history, Ryan has never been gone this long before. He would usually be located nearby a short time after running away. His family describes him as a happy boy who enjoyed helping others, such as his school janitor. His father was never part of his life, but he has two other older sisters who were grown and out of the family home by the time of his disappearance.

Prior to his disappearance, Ryan had searched online for things such as "how to hide underground", "how to avoid being spotted" and "how to hide from police". Extensive searches have turned up no indication of his whereabouts.

In early 2023, Ryan's mother petitioned the court to have him declared legally dead, arguing it was unlikely he was still alive due to his autism and other medical issues. She stated she intended to file a claim against the Papillion-La Vista Public School District for Ryan's wrongful death. However, in April of that year a judge threw out her petition to declare him dead, saying there wasn't enough evidence to conclude Ryan was deceased.

Under Nebraska state law, a person is presumed dead if they have been missing without explanation for five years. If Ryan is not found by May 2026, his mother can have him declared dead at that time.

His case remains unsolved.

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 28, 2023; details of disappearance updated.