The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

July 26, 2006


Local man missing since November 2000

OAKWOOD — Sheriff Pat Hartshorn confirmed late Tuesday that the remains found in the black 1999 Ford F-150 pickup pulled out of a pond at Kickapoo State Park fit the description of missing Oakwood High School graduate Ryan Katcher.

A forensic pathologist was expected to use dental records to finalize the identification late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Katcher had been missing since Nov. 5, 2000, when a friend drove him home from a party at about 2 a.m. He was a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Illinois when he disappeared.

Capt. Rod Kaag, chief detective for the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department, said the truck was found in Clear Pond, near the Dockside Café.

Rita Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Katcher family, issued a statement from Linda Katcher Griffith, Katcher’s mother, on Tuesday night.

“The search for Ryan is over, and she would like to thank everyone for their support and for never giving up. She appreciates everyone’s prayers,” Thompson said.

Local officials found Katcher’s vehicle in about 50 feet of water almost 100 feet off shore.

County Coroner Peggy Johnson said the truck’s good condition, which helped to seal the interior, combined with the cold water preserved Katcher’s remains inside for when crews made their discovery.

“Basically, ESDA had purchased some new equipment and was experimenting with it,” Kaag said about how local officials happened upon Katcher’s vehicle late Monday.

The Emergency Services and Disaster Agency is now known as Danville/Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency.

EMA Director Bob Huff said the recently purchased equipment provides super-sensitive sonar imagery.

The crew decided to take the equipment out to Clear Pond late Monday afternoon. The equipment uncovered the truck only 45 minutes into the test.

Law enforcement officials began their work to locate and bring up the vehicle about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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