Montana Stories

Derek VanLuchene, Helena

(Nominated by Armando Oropeza)
The State Capitol Building
August 2, 2011 

On August 31, 1987, while playing in his back yard in a rural Montana town, 8 year old Ryan VanLuchene was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a repeat sex offender just a few short weeks after his early release from prison. Since Ryan’s murder, Ryan’s family has not given up. Regardless of the daily heartache, they have vowed to make a difference and ensure that Ryan’s death was not in vain.  Working with Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, Corrections Officials, and Communities, Ryan’s family has worked to provide resources and tools to ensure that sensible solutions are brought to the forefront and used to protect our communities from child predation. The VanLuchene family has been instrumental in contributing and testifying for legislation to toughen laws related to sex offenders, and Derek VanLuchene, Ryan’s brother and a veteran Law Enforcement officer, formed Ryan United. Through this organization, Derek and his family work throughout the country with key stakeholders to promote better, more sensible laws as well as provide relevant educational materials and seminars that are instrumental in keeping communities safe.  In addition, Ryan United works with victims and victim families throughout the country to provide advocacy and resources for those who have faced the unthinkable.  Ryan United has been instrumental in raising funds for victims, providing case reviews and acting as a liaison between Law Enforcement and the victim or the victim’s family.