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Kathleen Ryan, 56, was missing since Saturday in Milwaukee, and her family has been desperately searching for her. Police found her car on fire and a badly burned body inside. Sadly, the body has just been identified as belonging to Ryan, but her cause of death has not been determined, WGN 9 reported. Here is what we know so far about Ryan and what happened. If you have any information, please call your local police right away.
1. Kathleen Ryan’s Car Was Found on Fire in Warren Township, Illinois. The Fire Did Not Appear To Be Caused by a Crash.
FacebookKathleen Ryan’s car, before it was burned.
On Saturday night, authorities found her car on fire in Warren Township, Illinois, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office reported. This is near Gurnee, Wisconsin. The car was found on fire around 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 3, in the 36500 block of North Route 41, the Journal Sentinel shared. Another report described the car as being found near I-41 and Stearns School Road, 10 miles northeast of Carmel Catholic High School, Patch.com reported. She was supposed to attend a basketball game at Carmel Catholic.
After the fire was extinguished, a badly burned body was found inside. Her car was a 2007 Pontiac G6 GT Coupe. Police are reviewing surveillance video in the area for clues about what might have happened.
Authorities have said that the fire did not appear to have been caused by a traffic crash, Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office shared.
2. Her Car Was Found about 10 Miles from the Town She Was Visiting, But Not on the Path She Would Have Normally Taken
Kathleen lived near the St. Francis-Milwaukee border, TMJ4 reported. She was heading to Mundelein, Illinois, which is about 10 miles from Warren Township, where her car was found burned. But her car was found in an area she wouldn’t normally travel. “It was off the path she would have taken to get to Mundelein,” her son Sam told TMJ4. “She’s done this trip thousands of times. We’re not losing hope and remaining calm and working with investigators to hopefully find the answers and hopefully find my mom”
Her son, Sam, told TMJ4 that her disappearance was very unusual. “She didn’t show up which is unlike her. We would have gotten a call, text, something. My brother and I went searching, kind of the route she would have been coming down. We’ve just been searching.”
Sam Ryan told the Journal Sentinel: “It was on an off-beaten path that she would have never taken to Carmel.”
He told NTD, “Where they found the car just doesn’t make sense as far as the path that she would’ve taken to Carmel. And as far as the times, things just don’t add up.”
He said they’re holding out hope that the body isn’t her.
3. Kathleen Ryan Was Traveling from Milwaukee to Illinois To Visit Her Son & Was Supposed To Arrive in Illinois at 4:30 PM on Saturday.
Kathleen Ryan’s son, Zack Ryan, shared on Facebook that his mother was last seen in St. Francis, Wisconsin around noon. She was planning to come to his basketball game in Illinois and see her grandchildren. She was supposed to arrive at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The last time her son Sam saw her was when they talked on FaceTime earlier on February 2, NTD reported. The family began to worry when she didn’t show up for the game that Sam and one of his brothers were coaching. They searched everywhere, retracing her steps and even stopping at any rest stops along her route.
Neighbors told the Journal Sentinel that they saw her leave her home around noon on Saturday.
4. Kathleen Ryan Is a Business Teacher Who Was an Oprah Ambassador. She’s Married, Has Three Sons & Grandchildren Who Love Her Deeply.
Kathleen Ryan is a business teacher at St. Augustine Prep, according to the school’s website. She’s a graduate of the City University of New York. Before her current job, she was a teacher at Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota and was the economics curriculum director. She started out her career as an economics educator teacher in the Bronx, New York.
Oprah Winfrey had once chosen Ryan as an O Ambassador. She was chosen to take her students to Kenya under Oprah’s program, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Alfonso Carmona, school superintendent of St. Augustine Prep, released the following statement: “Kathleen Ryan is a valued, respected and beloved educator and friend. We are praying for her safe return. As this is a private family matter, we have no further comment at this time.”
According to her bio on the school’s website, Kathleen Ryan is married, and she and her husband, Peter, have three sons: Zack, Sam, and Max. She is one of seven siblings. Her Facebook page is full of happy photos of her family and friends. Sadly, her father had just passed away less than two years ago. She appears to be a brave, happy woman who loves her family deeply.
Her son Sam told the Journal Sentinel that Peter and Kathleen had been married for more than 30 years, and she had survived cervical cancer years earlier.
Friends and family have posted on social media with their concerns and worries about Kathleen, mentioning what a wonderful and caring person she is. One colleague, Lacey Aronin, wrote in a public Facebook post, “Kathleen is a beloved friend, mentor, and ‘mom’ to many and we need her here.”
5. The Body Inside the Vehicle Was Burned Beyond Recognition, But Authorities Identified the Body as Kathleen Ryan. Cause of Death Is Not Known.
Authorities originally said it could take weeks or months before a positive identification is made, WISN reported. However, on the afternoon of February 7, they announced that the Lake County Coroner was able to identify the body as being Kathleen Ryan, WGN 9 reported. Authorities have not yet determined her cause of death.
The body is so badly burned that even gender couldn’t be determined at first, TMJ4 reported. The coroner’s office was planning to use DNA and dental records to identify the body.
Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office told WISN: “What we do know is that it was the car Kathleen would regularly drive and Kathleen was reported missing in Milwaukee in the evening on February 2nd. Milwaukee police entered the vehicle that was recovered as a possible vehicle she might be driving.”
Kathleen Ryan’s birthday was Monday, February 4. Her three grandchildren had planned to give her a birthday cake, the Journal Sentinel shared.