Petition to have missing Ryan Larsen presumed dead thrown out by judge

The judge denied the petition on the basis that there wasn’t enough proof that Ryan was dead
A judge has overruled Tammi Larsen's petition to have her son Ryan declared legally dead.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:25 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2023 at 9:17 AM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) - A judge has thrown out a petition that sought to have missing 11-year-old Ryan Larsen presumed dead.

Ryan, who has autism, disappeared on May 17, 2021, after leaving La Vista West Elementary School. Despite several searches, Ryan has not been found. Law enforcement returned to areas of interest multiple times to search for Larsen and La Vista Police say the case remains open.

In February 2023, Ryan’s mother Tammi Larsen filed a petition in Sarpy County Court to have him legally declared dead. The petition argued it was unlikely Ryan was still alive due to his disability.

“The missing individual, Ryan Larsen, due to his autism diagnosis and other medical conditions, was exposed to a specific peril or tragedy resulting in probable death under circumstances that may be proved by clear and convincing evidence,” the petition stated.

According to court documents, Thursday, a judge denied Tammi Larsen’s petition to have her son Ryan declared legally dead.

The burden of proof was on Tammi to show that it’s more likely Ryan died around May 17, 2021, than he survived. The judge says there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude that.

If the petition was approved, it would have allowed Tammi Larsen to receive a death certificate so she could presumably take legal action against the Papillion-La Vista School District.

Under Nebraska law, a person who is missing is pronounced dead after 5 years. If Ryan is not found at any point in the near future, then he would be presumed dead around May 2026.