Young Father’s Brutal Murder Still Unsolved Nearly 15 Years Later

Young Father’s Brutal Murder Still Unsolved Nearly 15 Years Later

Ryan Louis Livingston was born in Franklin County, Ill., on October 29, 1983, to Richard and Denise Livingston. He has an older brother, Randy, and a younger brother, Robert.

At just 22 years old, Ryan Livingston was already a father. His daughter, Hannah, born in 2004, was his everything. Becoming a father at such a young age would be hard for any man, but Livingston accepted his responsibility without complaint. Ryan loved his little girl more than life itself.

Maybe that’s why the events that unfolded in July 2006 made it that much harder for his friends and family.

A Life Taken Too Soon

Carbondale, Illinois, sits in Jackson County and is home to Southern Illinois University, or SIUC, for short. Population is between 25,000 and 30,000.

Thursday, July 13, 2006, was a typically hot summer day with temperatures reaching around 90 degrees. Later that evening, Ryan attended an outdoor concert at SIUC’s Shryock Auditorium. Around 9 p.m., he received a ride to a friend’s house on East Park Street, where he stayed for about 20 minutes.

Ryan then started walking to his brother Randy’s house in the 600 block of N. Oakland Ave., roughly three miles away. Two males approached Ryan on W. Walnut St., also known as Highway 13 East, in a possible robbery attempt between 10 and 10:30 p.m. One of the men stabbed Ryan on his left side when he likely resisted.

When Ryan had not shown up at Randy’s house, Randy called his cellphone. Ryan picked up and told him he had been beaten and stabbed on Highway 13 and needed help.

Randy immediately dialed 911 at 10:38 p.m., but he could not give the dispatcher his brother’s exact location, only that he was somewhere on Highway 13.

The first officer found Ryan at 10:52 p.m. lying on the sidewalk in front of 317 W. Walnut St., close to the curb. A few minutes before, witnesses across the street had seen Ryan in distress and also dialed 911, aiding the police in locating him.

Ryan had lost a lot of blood and was floating in and out of consciousness. He was only able to give a brief description of his attackers. One assailant was black and wore a hat turned backward, and the other was also black but had a light complexion. Ryan did not know either man.

The police canvassed the area and searched for clues. They collected some forensic evidence at the scene but have not said what that is.

An ambulance transported Ryan to Carbondale’s Memorial Hospital, where staff rushed him into surgery. The knife had penetrated his heart. Doctors attempted to repair the damage, but he died at 1:51 a.m. on Friday, July 14, 2006.

Dr. James A. Petterchak performed the autopsy that afternoon and ruled the manner of death a homicide “caused by a stab wound to the left chest.” Toxicology test results showed no drugs in Ryan’s system. His alcohol level was below the .08 legal limit in Illinois for intoxication.

Possible Related Crimes

There were other similar crimes in the area at the time of Ryan Livingston’s murder.

Mar. 31, 2006: Two black males allegedly rob a Jimmy John’s delivery driver while he makes a delivery in the 400 block of W. Monroe St.

One man carried a gun, while the other had a knife. The men were between 18 and 22 years old, 5-feet, 8 inches to 6 feet tall, and wore dark-colored coats with hoods. One also wore a red mask to conceal his identity.

Jul. 21, 2006: Two black males rob a couple as they are walking on Cherry Street. The men steal the woman’s purse, the man’s wallet, and their cellphones. The couple describes the thieves as in their 20s, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with average builds.

Many residents believe the robberies are connected to Ryan Livingston’s murder. The police investigated the possible connections. There were a few similarities and differences but no evidence linking them together.

Mystery Letter

On Oct. 3, 2007, the Carbondale Police Department received a typewritten letter, dated September 2007, from a woman known only as Elizabeth, who provided specific details about Ryan’s murder that the police never publicly released. Elizabeth said to put an ad in The Southern Illinoisan if the information provided was helpful, which authorities did three times. However, they never heard from Elizabeth again. They are still interested in speaking with her.


After Ryan’s murder, his friends and family created a small memorial on the concrete wall in front of 317 W. Walnut St., where he was stabbed. But days later, the city power-washed the wall.

In August 2006, Arbor District residents formed a neighborhood watch to fight crime.

Ryan’s parents divorced in 2010. His daughter is now 17 years old.

Denise Livingston maintains a blog where she writes about Ryan and owns the Facebook page, Remember Ryan.

It’s been nearly 15 years since Ryan Livingston’s murder, and police have made zero arrests, nor have they named any suspects.

Primary source:

Anglin, Shawn and Marilyn Halstead. “Searching for Justice.” Southern Illinoisan. July 14, 2019. (originally accessed through January 21, 2021)
Young Father’s Brutal Murder Still Unsolved Nearly 15 Years Later
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