Extensive searches in the area surrounding the Gross Dam Overlook parking area in Boulder County, where Ryder's car was discovered, as well as other locations, have failed to turn up anything pointing to his whereabouts — and while human remains found near Eldora in June had no connection to the case, more positive evidence has yet to surface.
In an attempt to change that equation, Ryder's friends and family are offering a massive $100,000 reward in the case.
According to Rick Johnson, Ryder's dad, this amount has an expiration date — January 17, 2017, the one-year anniversary of his vanishing — in part because "we wanted to give it some sense of urgency."
A family photo of Ryder Johnson.
Courtesy of the Johnson family
Rick describes Ryder as "a Colorado kid, raised in Boulder. A lot of news reports say he's a Lafayette man, but I wouldn't call him that. He grew up in Boulder, he played goalie for YMCA hockey, he raised a steer in 4H, he was a horseman — and he's a kind and caring and empathetic person."
For understandable reasons, Rick doesn't feel comfortable talking about the specifics of Ryder's disappearance or speculating about what might have happened. In his words, "I want to focus on the reward. I'm the kind of person who's like, 'What can we do to bring about a positive result here? What can we do that's productive?' And the idea behind the reward is that after seven months of searching not just by the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, but by hundreds of people combing literally thousands of acres, we wanted to find a way to encourage someone to come forward with information."
The reward "has a couple of components to it," he allows. "It could be anything that brings forward information resulting in criminal charges, but also finding Ryder or any of the personal belongings that were with him at the time he disappeared that night that might provide additional clues."
The last time he was seen, Ryder was wearing a black Eldora Ski jacket, black denim pants and black work boots.
Ryder Johnson's employee photo, featuring his Eldora jacket.
Boulder County Sheriff's Office
Rick doesn't want to leave the impression that the reward is being offered out of frustration with the efforts to date of authorities or others. "We are incredibly grateful for everything that people in the community have done, and all the work the Boulder County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement officials have brought to bear on this," he says. "It's been incredible. We tapped into all sorts of resources, from thermal-detection planes to helicopters to drones to searches on the ground by Rocky Mountain Rescue, which is itself a volunteer organization, and the Boulder Emergency Squad, another volunteer organization that did the water-search component. We're grateful to all of them and their continuing work on the investigation."
At the same time, the reward, which was donated by what he calls "a few enormously generous friends and family," is meant to "keep Ryder's case out there in front of the public after seven months. We wanted it to be noteworthy enough that it might strike a chord with somebody and motivate them to come forward."
If multiple tips prove fruitful, the family will be the ultimate arbiter about how the reward is allocated, Rick says; get additional details, plus contact information and more, in the flier at the bottom of this post. Still, such technicalities are secondary to solving a mystery that's been absolutely heart-wrenching for all involved.
As Rick puts it, "We're just trying to make something good happen."
Check out the aforementioned flier below.