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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two years later, police still search for answers in man’s death
By Rodney L. Sherman, Clarion News Editor

Patrick W. Ryan
Patrick W. Ryan

CLARION – “Whoever threw my son into the woods like a piece of garbage – well, there just has to be some kind of justice for that,” said the mother of a Clarion man found dead two years ago this month in a wooded area of Forest County .

Debbie Ryan, mother of Patrick W. Ryan, said nothing will bring her son back and whatever happened to cause his death “happened,” but to abandon Patrick Ryan’s body in the remote woods was a sickening blow to her family.

“Someone out there knows something – and we just need that person or those people to come forward,” state police Cpl. Guy Felmlee, head of the crime unit at the Clarion barracks said this week.

Ryan, 30, was last seen at the Capt. Loomis Inn in Clarion between 1 and 2 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005 . Ryan was one of several people invited to a private party at a River Hill, Paint Township , residence. There is, however, no evidence that Ryan went to the party and no one has acknowledged seeing Ryan since the bar closed that Sunday morning.

A state Department of Environmental Protection employee found a man’s body around 12:30 p.m. Aug. 23, 2005 , along Watson Farm Road in Howe Township , northeast of Marienville, Forest County .

“We have the entire crime unit working on it,” said Felmlee. “Tpr. Keith Allen is the lead investigator but the other three troopers in the crime unit are up to speed on the entire case and we continue to follow up on leads.”

Felmlee said the case file has probably “doubled in size” since last year as troopers talk to people as they check out each lead they receive related to the case.

“The case is absolutely still active,” said Felmlee. “As we said last year, we believe there are multiple people involved in the incident.”

Investigators know how Ryan, 30, died, but how his body ended up more than 35 miles from where he was last seen remains a mystery.

Clarion County officials have not released the cause of Ryan’s death, but officials in Forest County said the death was drug-related.

Clarion County District Attorney Mark T. Aaron said he hopes someone will volunteer information in the case.

“I know the state police and Clarion Borough Police Officer (William) Peck (IV) have been working diligently on any leads related to the case,” said Aaron. “Anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant it might seem, needs to come forward. That information combined with what investigators already have might be the break we need.”

Peck, who has met with the Ryan family numerous times during the past two years, said he understands their frustration and their need to know what happened to their son.

“I know they struggle with this every day,” said Peck. “They know someone out there knows what happened and I strongly urge that someone to help this family put this to rest.”

Felmlee said part of the ongoing investigation is determining what crimes, if any, were committed the night Ryan died.

“Of course there is the question of how he ended up in Forest County ,” said Felmlee. “Someone out there knows the answer to that question.”

Dr. Peter and Debbie Ryan of Coudersport, Patrick Ryan’s parents, recently contacted the Clarion News to renew their plea for the public’s help in resolving the case.

“We don’t hate Clarion,” said Debbie Ryan. “We still like Clarion and we worry that whoever did this to our son is still in Clarion and could make this same decision again with someone else’s loved one.”

Patrick Ryan, who lived at 141 South 4th Ave., Clarion, was supposed to arrive in New Jersey Aug. 15, 2005, to drop off household items and personal property as part of his plan to move there and begin his career as a college instructor at Bucks County Community College.

According Ryan’s parents, their son conducted a yard sale on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2005 , at his residence to sell off items he did not plan to take with him to New Jersey .

When Ryan did not arrive in New Jersey as expected, his girlfriend contacted his parents who in turn contacted Clarion Borough police.

“I know it sounds odd, but there are times I still think he will call,” Debbie Ryan said of her son. “It’s a living nightmare.”

Anyone with any information about Ryan’s disappearance or death can contact Allen at his personal desk telephone number, 226-1619. Felmlee can be reached at 226-1719. Peck can be reached at 226-9140.

Officers said anonymous tips are welcome.

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