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'Not losing hope': Family waits for answers on missing Milwaukee teacher

Posted at 1:17 PM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 18:49:59-05

Lake County Sheriff's Deputies in Illinois have connected a vehicle fire containing a body with a missing Milwaukee woman.

According to police, officers responded to the vehicle fire close to 10 p.m. Saturday in the Warren Township.

After extinguishing the vehicle, firefighters and deputies observed a badly burned body.

The identification of the body has not yet been confirmed. However, authorities say the vehicle had been previously driven by a Milwaukee woman that has been reported as missing.

Officials have confirmed that the vehicle has been known to be driven by missing Milwaukee teacher Kathleen Ryan.

Ryan's family says she was heading to Mundelein, Illinois, on Saturday to watch her sons coach a basketball game. She was last seen at her home near the St. Francis-Milwaukee border around 12:30 p.m. She was supposed to be at the game around 4:30 p.m. but never showed up.

"She didn't show up which is unlike her," Sam Ryan, one of her sons said. "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."

Despite the car she drives being found with a badly burned body inside, the family is holding out hope.

"They found her car burned with unidentifiable remains in the car. We just believe that's not her," Sam Ryan said. "It was off the path she would have taken to get to
Mundelein. 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."

Kathleen Ryan is a business teacher at St. Augustine Prep in Milwaukee. Alfonso Carmona, school superintendent, 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.”

"We're very thankful for everything St. Augustin Prep has done for my mother," Sam Ryan said. "She is just a devoted teacher, devoted mother, devoted grandmother. This is completely out of character of anything we'd ever expect. We just believe that's not my mom in the car."

Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper says their investigation will continue today. Cooper says the body is so badly burned, there were no discernible characteristics, even gender. He says an anthropologist will be called in to help identify the body.