Ryan was the leader of a tiny anti-government organization based in a complex near Rulo, Nebraska, in the early 1980s.
In addition to having intermittent ties to Posse Comitatus, Ryan and his supporters were also associated with the Christian identity movement.
Ryan’s beliefs included white supremacy, the inherent evil of Jews (anti-Semitism), and a distrust of all forms of established earthly authority, including government.
Luke Stice murder case and updates
Luke Stice, 5, and James Thimm, 26, were both found dead in August 1985 west of Rulo, Nebraska, on an 80-acre property associated with the white supremacist Christian identity movement.
In The Terrorist Next Door, Daniel Levitas claimed there was evidence that both were tortured before they died. They had been cruelly mistreated by a man trying to assert his power.
Police discovered that Michael Wayne Ryan, a trucker and high school dropout, had posed as a prophet and proclaimed the end of the world when he was captured for these crimes. His brand of religion, which found adherents among those seeking “paramilitary salvation,” was familiar with violence.
His cult included Rick Stice, farm manager and father of Luke Stice. Rick was drawn to Ryan’s ideas given that he and his wife were struggling financially and Sondra had died of cancer.
The invitation to Stice’s property was extended to Ryan’s group, but Stice quickly came to represent Ryan’s animosity. Stice was treated as Ryan’s “slave”.
About 21 people lived in the various buildings, mostly children. Advising them to stockpile food and medicine, Ryan referred to them as the “true Israelites” and convinced them that the final Armageddon would take place there in Nebraska.
A keen supporter named James Thimm had come to the farm with thirty-year-old David Andreas. Also, Ryan got angry and demoted Thimm to a lower post. He had to carry out the orders of his superiors.
Ryan began torturing Stice by abusing Luke. On the boy’s forehead he wrote “666” in red and explained that the child was a descendant of Satan. Following Ryan’s instructions, Stice punched and spanked Luke.
But eventually Stice left the estate for a while. When he returned he was tied to the porch. Ryan gave Stice the green light to sexually assault Luke. He was then ordered to sodomize Thimm and agree to the same procedure, which he did.
Ryan was still unsatisfied. One day he hit Luke hard and killed him by breaking his neck. Stice was forced to dig a grave and in the process he escaped again, leaving two of his children behind.
He was subjected to a horrific series of abuses instead of being able to escape. Before he died, he was shot in the face and tortured for several days.
Levitas claims he was forced to have sex with a goat while chained in a pigsty, despite a serious facial wound. He was then repeatedly anally assaulted while holding a shovel handle by numerous guys acting on Ryan’s orders, after which Ryan punched and kicked him, breaking his arm.
The next day he was skinned while still breathing and his legs were broken. Ryan then stomped on Thimm’s chest, killing him.
After Ryan ordered one of the others to shoot Thimm in the head as a precaution, he was buried in an unmarked cemetery.
Where is Michael Ryan now?
Michael Ryan is no longer alive because he died in prison in 2015.
On June 25, 1985, police raided the farm and found stolen goods and illegally obtained weapons and ammunition. The cult members were arrested. After a time, Stice became an informant for the FBI and helped with the Ryan investigation.
After Ryan was arrested, the remains were dug up. During his testimony in court, Stice was asked about his involvement in the abuse of his son. He replied: “I thought that had to be done.
He was housed at Tecumseh State Correctional Facility in 2015. On May 24, 2015, Michael Ryan died of an incurable brain tumor. He was 66 years old when he died.
Luke Case hearing and collapse
Michael Ryan was sentenced to death in 1986.
His second appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 1995 after his first appeal was denied in 1989.
Ryan questioned Nebraska’s decision to purchase any of the three drugs needed for his 2012 execution. Ryan’s motion was denied by a lower court without a hearing, and his appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court in April last year.
Nebraska was unable to execute Ryan because one of the three drugs needed for the lethal injection expired in 2013.
Governor Pete Ricketts said May 14 that the three drugs needed for executions had been purchased. Less than a week later, however, the Nebraska Legislature passed a measure overturning the death sentence. On Tuesday, the governor announced his veto, saying he was looking for methods to garner enough support for his veto.
When found guilty, Nebraska had only the electric chair available for executions. Lethal injection was introduced as a method of execution in Nebraska in 2009 after the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that electrocution was a cruel and unusual punishment.