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'It was difficult for everyone:' La Vista police continue search for Ryan Larsen as it enters fourth year

Larsen, who has autism, was last seen May 17, 2021 at La Vista West Elementary
Posted at 5:20 PM, May 17, 2024

LA VISTA, Neb. (KMTV) — Friday marks three years since the disappearance of Ryan Larsen. La Vista police look back on the case and discuss the ongoing search to find him.


Ryan Larsen was a student at La Vista West Elementary School, where he vanished on May 17, 2021.

La Vista Police were called to the school just a half hour after the 11-year-old with autism went missing and have been involved in the case ever since.

In the coming weeks, a massive search got underway involving multiple departments of law enforcement across the area.

“All of our neighboring agencies assisted with the search,” said Capt. Todd Armbrust of the La Vista Police Department

Search efforts centered around Ryan's home and school. Nearby Walnut Creek Park and other areas with bodies of water were also searched.

Despite widespread media coverage and national attention, the search for Ryan continues.

“We go over video we have available [and] statements we received from multiple people,” Armbrust said. “We review the reports looking for any little thing that we missed.”

Armbrust said his department continues to receive tips about Ryan's disappearance from as far away as the East Coast. Many within the department knew Ryan before he went missing.

“Everybody was affected," Armbrust said. "We're talking about an 11-year-old young boy who was missing. It was difficult for everyone."

In 2023, Ryan’s mother filed a petition to have her son legally declared dead. In an attempt to sue the Papillion-La Vista School District citing negligence, it was denied by a judge.

Ryan’s family could not be reached for comment on this story.