November 5, 2000

11/05/00: Ryan Katcher, 19, Oakwood, IL

Ryan Katcher, 19, was driven to his home in Oakwood by a friend around 2:00 am after attending a party at Henning Road West. Friends told authorities he staggered out of his truck and went inside. They last saw him on his living room couch. When Ryan's family awoke the next morning, he was gone and so was his black Ford F150 long bed truck were missing.

Other details of the investigation
According to his mother, Linda, “he didn't ever carry much cash and his ATM, credit card and checking were never used. His church clothes were still laid out and his books were still on the counter." Police also accessed his internet files without finding any clues. Some stocks that he had were also left untouched.

About Ryan
Ryan's dad died in 1998 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Worried about his mother, he commuted to the University of Illinois in Champaign his freshman year. The following year, he lived on campus, but came home on weekends. He was a marketing major in the College of Business Adminstration, and he enjoyed school and the friends he met there.

Ryan enjoyed hunting, fishing, country music, fixing things or just having his own space for hobbies like working on computers, surf the internet and carpentry.

He was very close to his older sister Stephanie, who had also attended the University of Illinois. He looked up to her and confided in her. They both held the nickname "Katch" or "Katcher."

From the start, Ryan’s family believed something happened to him as he had a test scheduled for Monday and he never missed exams. Ryan was a very stable young man and an unlikely candidate for running off. He was on the dean's list with a 3.98 GPA, a steady girlfriend for 4 years, and he was very devoted to his widowed mother. He also held a part time job, working for the United States Tobacco Co., where he checked product at gas stations.

On July 25, 2006, local police testing a new sonar device found Ryan's truck in 40 feet of water in a pond in Kickapoo State Park. The pond (and many other local bodies of water) had been searched at the time of Ryan's disappearance, but sonar they had used at the time did not penetrate as far down as where the truck was eventually found.

Inside the truck were human remains, which the cold temperature of the deep pond had helped to preserve. The license plate and clothing matched Katcher's and authorities found identification on the body.

Both dental and DNA testing determined that it was indeed Ryan. An autopsy concluded that Ryan had drowned. It was determined that Ryan, under the influence of alcohol, had driven off the road and into the pond, where he had then drowned.

Photo source: The News-Gazette

Unanswered Questions
Did Ryan really make it inside the house?
If so, why did he go back out again?
When did he leave?

Facts of Interest in This Case
Name/age: Ryan Katcher, 19, Oakwood, IL
College: University of Illinois-Champaign (marketing major)
Physical description: 5’6,” 160 pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes
Last seen: 11/05/00, party on 2200 block of Henning Road West
Recovered: 07/25/06, Kickapoo State Park Pond
Cause of death ruling: drowning
Manner of death ruling: accident
Other: His mother, Linda is an emergency room nurse at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center. She appeared on the Montel Williams show. The episode, titled "Sylvia Browne: Unexplained Disappearances", was first broadcast on February 11th, 2004. She has since remarried. Ryan Katcher, who graduated from high school in 1999, had played football and his jersey number was 88.

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scables said...

The city is Champaign, not Champagne. Thanks for blogging about this, it's very sketchy to say the least. How could his truck have ended up in that tiny, popular pond without leaving indicators? Tracks, broken barriers, brake marks, etc.

Lisa said...

Thanks for catching the typo. I made the change.

BoyintheMachine said...


Good question. It couldn't have.

Remember he wasn't found until 5 years later so most of the signs went unoticed by anyone. Of course after 5 years they would most likely be no evidence left indicating his truck went into the water.

Tenneguy said...

He lost his father Did he have issues he was seeing someone about?Perhaps a religious counselor that dealt with grief issues?Someone who is Catholic which is what many of the victims were? It could explain why others are dead also.There were young men whose mothers had cancer.There was a young man whose mothers had a heart condition.Also there was a soldier trying to adapt after coming back from Iraq.

Anonymous said...

The pond Katcher was found in is part of a system of lakes and ponds in the Hillery area. These were formerly strip mines and are extremely deep. The one we live on is at least 65 ft (that's when we ran out of rope). They also are very steep with little to no water within standing depth. Without sonar or other imaging, it is nearly impossible to recover anything from them. Most of this lake in particular has no trees or other brush around it to get knocked over in the event of an accident. Furthermore, I believe that the cafe was being built at the time; so any tire tracks, skid marks, footprints, etc. may have been written off as construction mess.

JBrown said...

Does anyone think about the possibility that someone decided to take advantage of him passed out? They could have put him in the truck, drove the truck to the lake, moved him to the driver's side and pushed the truck in. Was the truck found in drive or neutral??