Police block off recreation area, halt volunteer searches for missing 11-year-old Ryan Larsen

Police in La Vista, Nebraska, have said that volunteers are no longer needed in the search for 11-year-old Ryan Larsen, an autistic boy who has been missing for four days.

As KETV reports, investigators on Thursday closed off the Walnut Creek Recreation Area near Larsen’s home to prevent disruption off the area. Multiple agencies are now involved in the search, and have not yet found any physical evidence indicating Larsen’s whereabouts.

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten told KETV that the Walnut Creek Recreation area is “one of the best leads they have” in the search for Larsen.

“We know there have been cases, our FBI partners have told us, they’ve had missing kids with autism that have been out for seven days and they’ve been found alive and everything has been okay,” Lausten said.

Larsen slipped out of school around noon on Monday during a classroom change. A teacher noticed within about five minutes that he was missing. The school does not have security cameras that might have provided clues.

Police have said that Larsen is high-functioning and does not want to be approached by strangers. Earlier this week, authorities advised members of the community to avoid engaging the boy if they saw him, but to keep an eye on him and call police. On Friday, police said in a notice on Twitter that they no longer needed volunteers in the search, and encouraged those who want to help to instead donate money to organizations serving missing and exploited children.

Earlier this week, La Vista police indicated in a press conference that they believed Larson was hiding. The boy reportedly has a history of hiding and running away, and investigators found that he had searched the phrases “hiding from police” and “hiding underground” on YouTube. As the days progressed with no sign of Larson, authorities have said that they are considering further possibilities, including foul play. At no time have police said they have evidence suggesting Larsen has been harmed.

Larsen’s parents have not yet publicly commented on the boy’s disappearance. La Vista police are expected to hold a news briefing at 3 p.m. Friday.

Larsen is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds He has brown hair and hazel eyes. Ryan was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, and a shirt with the Old Navy logo. He was carrying a backpack, but authorities do not know if it contained anything other than school supplies.

Anyone with information or who thinks they have seen the boy should call 911.

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