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'You want to find out where he’s at': La Vista PD continues search for Ryan Larsen

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten believes Ryan is in the area
Posted at 11:24 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 00:24:50-04

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — For 365 days police have been looking high and low for Ryan Larsen, a 12-year-old with autism who went missing after walking out of La Vista West Elementary School.

They continue to follow up on leads, hoping to find him. But not many have come in since the early days of the investigation.

"We get occasional messages that come in. They believe someone who fits his description was in this area. We’ll chase him down to see if that comes to fruition. We’ve had help from the psychic community. We’ve looked in the backyard of 8514 Maple Drive. He’s not underneath the pool," Bob Lausten, Chief of La Vista Police said.

The lack of information is frustrating to Lausten, who understands from past experience that these cases can be complex.

"You want closure. You want to find out where he’s at. Whether he’s still out there or whether he’s not. We want to bring him home," said Lausten.

He says someone has to know something about Larsen's disappearance. While they have multiple theories but not a lot of leads, Lausten says he has a hunch.

"I believe he’s in this area somewhere I do. Where I don’t know," said Lausten.

Early in the search, an umbrella that was believed to be Larsen's was found. A resident of Larsen's apartment complex says he saw someone he believed to be Ryan after the time he would have left school. A surveillance video from a nearby Keno shows someone police believe is Larsen, but was never confirmed.

Cadaver dogs have hit the water at Walnut Creek multiple times, but officers aren't sure what exactly the dogs are picking up.

They don't have anything concrete, but what they do know. Lausten says, is not everyone has been completely honest.

"We’ve had people that haven’t been totally forthcoming with us with information and I think the information they may possess may help us. We think he’s still out there somewhere. We want to find him. Someone knows where he’s at," Lausten said.

Lausten wonders if there's any criminal aspect to the 12-year-old's disappearance.

He wishes they had more information about Larsen early on, saying not having to wait for certain things may have made a difference.

It's part of the reason they started the "Take Me Home" program. It's an opt-in database, where families can input information about someone who they worry may go missing at some point. Officers are able to access it in case of a disappearance.

He says they work on the case every day, often talking to the FBI. He says it's stumped them too. In the near future, they will bring someone in who has no connection to the case.

This will get fresh eyes on it in case those who have been working on it this past year, are missing something. Lausten says they're not at that point just yet.

But, he's grateful for the close relationship the La Vista PD has with other agencies, including Omaha Fire, Sarpy County Sheriff and Omaha Police, who have all helped in the search.

"Knowing we have the resource in the area to respond to something. As a law enforcement official it's awesome but as a citizen to know you have these things. I think is really reassuring to know we do things right in this area and we have a working relationship with people," Lausten said.

Another relationship Lausten praises is that of the community. He conveys gratitude and amazement for how everyone came together in support of the search.

If you have any credible information on the whereabouts of Larsen, please contact the police department at 402-331-1582.