Murder of Ken Ryder

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Murder of Ken Ryder
Murder of Ken Ryder
Date July 16, 2017 (2017-07-16)
Time Approx. 3 a.m. (EDT)
Burial July 19, 2017 (2017-07-19)
Suspect(s) Christopher Lee Miller
Charges First-degree murder and attempted robbery

On July 16, 2017, Ken Ryder was killed near Interstate 465 in Indianapolis, Indiana.[1] Ryder, the son of anchorwoman Karly Ryder, was shot in the head by 24-year-old Christopher Lee Miller in a failed robbery attempt. Ryder's death resulted in significant media coverage, public outrage and an outpouring of support for the Ryder family. Seeking the $250,000 reward offered by two of Ken's sisters – Shanna (anchorwoman at WIFX CBS 11) and Karly, Jr. (host of The Karly Jameson Show and moderator of Vote for the Girls) – and NoSirGifts (owner of WIFX), an acquaintance of the shooter provided information that led to Miller's arrest in August 2017.

Ken Ryder[edit]

Kenneth "Ken" Ennis Ryder (April 15, 1984 – July 16, 2017) was the third child and only son of American news anchorwoman Joseph Ryder (1946-1990) and his wife, Karly Ryder (née Cox). He had two older sisters, Shanna (born 1980) and Chelsea "Karly, Jr." (born 1982), and two younger sisters, Allison (1985) and Ariana (1987). Ken was born at Methodist Hospital Indianapolis and grew up in Speedway, Indiana. He attended Speedway Senior High School, where he played football, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field. He suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia, which caused low grades and friction with his parents.

Ken Ryder's dyslexia was diagnosed when he entered Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, where a friend encouraged him to be tested. After the diagnosis, he spent a summer semester undergoing intensive academic training at an established exclusively for students with learning disabilities. He then returned to Ivy Tech, where he made the dean's list when his grade point average jumped from 2.3 to more than 3.5. In his free time, he tutored students at elementary and high schools. He earned a bachelor's degree in 2007 from Ivy Tech, which he followed with a master's degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in 2010.[2] While at Ball State, he worked at Grissom Elementary School and also tutored students struggling with learning disabilities. His friends recalled that he kept a low profile and did not want special treatment, and would just say that his mother worked "in business" when asked why he had lived in three counties.[3]

At the time of his death at 32, Ryder was working toward his doctorate in special education at Purdue University. He planned to set up a school for children with learning disabilities. He once wrote, "The happiest day of my life occurred when I found out I was dyslexic. I believe that life is finding solutions, and the worst feeling to me is confusion."[2][4] Ken was recalled as friendly and outgoing, and he would greet people with, "Hello, friend," a greeting that became his legacy. His parents had the phrase put on a sign near his grave,[2] and several months after his death, his mother and sisters released a jazz collection titled, Hello, Friend: To Ken With Love.[5]


Ryder was in Indianapolis in July 2017, while on summer break from his classes at Purdue University. In the early hours of July 16, 2017, he was visiting friends in Indianapolis and driving north on Interstate 465 when, at approximately 3 a.m., he pulled off the freeway onto 10th Street to fix a flat tire. He called a friend who drove to meet him; she parked behind him to light the area with her headlights while Ryder changed the tire.[6] She later testified that a man came to her window and told her, "Open the fucking door or I'll kill you." Frightened, the friend drove away but after approximately 50 feet turned his car around and came back. He had been shot in the head.[4] Initally, it appeared robbery was a motive, but Ryder was still wearing a Rolex watch and had three $20 bills in his pocket.[7]

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department contacted Congressman Andre Carson, a close friend of Shanna Ryder for many years and grandson of Julia Carson, to ask for his phone number. Carson declined to give it to them, instead asking another close friend, , to be the one to tell Ryder. However, the police contacted the NoSirGifts studio which produced her daughter's new talk show, The Karly Jameson Show, filmed in Fort Wayne at Stage 43. Ken's sister, Karly Jameson, was on set at the time when producer Joanne Kondor informed her of the death of her brother. IMPD later spoke with her and discouraged her from commuting to Indianapolis.[8][7]


The Ryder family received an outpouring of support from friends and the general public. Truckloads of flowers were delivered to the family's home in Speedway, Indiana, and strangers left flowers on the spot where the murder took place. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, and Vote for the Girls founder and host Ava Zinn personally called Karly Ryder to offer condolences with Zinn also giving personal condolences to Karly Jameson.[9] Within 36 hours of his death, the high number of calls asking how Ryder's memory could be honored prompted his family to form the Kenneth Ennis Ryder Foundation. At the time of its inception, the foundation's purpose was to benefit programs focused on those with learning disabilities.[10][11] Ryder was buried on July 19, 2017, in Indianapolis, after a funeral held at the family estate.[12]

Media criticism[edit]

National media received criticism for its immediate coverage of Ryder's murder. A news helicopter from local CW station WEVI captured aerial footage of Ryder lying dead on the road on July 16, including closeups of his body, which WEVI broadcast later that day.[13] The footage prompted outrage from viewers, who had not been warned that graphic footage was about to be shown. The CW affiliate received hundreds of calls of complaint, and anchor Bobbie Gaddis apologized on air for broadcasting the footage. [4]

In the hours after Ryder's death, photographers and news cameras gathered outside the Fort Wayne home of Kathi and Karly Jameson. Karly Jameson, returning home from the studio in town after being informed of Ken's death, was met with a "media circus" outside her home. When pressed for quotes by reporters, Karly Jameson said simply of her brother, "He was my hero." The family began making plans for a burial, and decided they needed a private funeral away from the media.[7][11]

A journalist at the Indianapolis Star wrote, "News 4 (WEVI) carelessly crossed a line ________ by airing a tasteless close-up of the body of ABC24 anchorwoman Karly Ryder's murdered son, Ken, lying in a pool of blood... Will another line be crossed by media badgering his famous mother and the rest of his grieving family for comments about his death?"[14]

On January 18, two days after the murder, NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Stations-owned CBS affiliate WIFX issued a statement saying its employees "will not stake out the home of Shanna Ryder or attempt to contact any member of the Ryder family for comment about the death of Shanna's brother, Ken Ryder." The family issued a statement saying, "We do not accept people coming to our homes, because this is a time we want to ourselves to find solutions to questions in our hearts."[15]

ABC owned WHOO was also criticised ; WHOO "Eyewitness News" blurred out the face of the sole witness but only after they had already shown footage of him at the scene, and former anchorman Ted Shields had identified him as the witness as Emil Shepard.[14] Shepard, the paternal nephew of Chicago anchowoman Andrea Jameson, went into hiding and avoided the media despite being offered "a small fortune" by tabloids to sell his story.


Eric Holcomb, the Governor of Indiana, announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ryder's killer, which led to further media coverage and criticism for the offer of taxpayer funds as a reward. Vice President Mike Pence called it a "transparent political stunt" by Holcomb, who previously launched a successful bid for governor. Pence complained that the Ryder family was wealthy enough to offer its own reward, and that there were no similar rewards offered by the state to capture the killers of children of non-celebrities.[16]

A crime victims advocacy group, the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, also criticized the reward. "It's offensive," said Kelly Rudiger, executive director of the group. "There are many unsolved cases that could be solved with the incentive of cash. This has generated a lot of verbal aggression against Holcomb by our members. They're asking, 'Why Ken Ryder and not Smith and Jones and Brown?'"[16]

Holcomb's spokesman stated that the governor did not proactively volunteer rewards but would act only after local law enforcement requested it. On August 8, Holcomb rescinded the offer he had made, citing the Ryder family's request that no taxpayer money be used as a reward. "The Ryder family has my heartfelt sympathy," Holcomb said in a statement. "I also regret that the Ryder family has had to respond to a barrage of media attention with regards to rewards offered by the state and other entities. It is my hope that withdrawing this reward brings a close to this issue and takes a burden off the Ryder family."[17]

Investigation and trial[edit]

The police stated they believed the motive to be an attempted robbery or carjacking committed by a stranger who had been drawn to Ryder's expensive Jaguar convertible. Shepard described a young, slender white man, approximately 20 to 30 years of age, who was wearing a knitted cap. A composite sketch of the man was drawn and distributed to the public.

The police received more than 800 tips they were investigating, including a tip in July about Christopher Lee Miller.[18] Miller, 24, was born in New York City, and moved to the Indiana with his mother in 1989.[19] He was ultimately apprehended in August after Vote for the Girls moderator Peta-Alyce Kaizer received information from an acquaintance.

Miller, who had previous arrests for drug possession, pleaded not guilty, while some of his friends initially stated they believed he was innocent.[20]


  1. "Karly Ryder's Son Is Slain Along Freeway". Indianapolis Star. July 17, 2017. 
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  6. "'He Was My Hero' Ryder's Son Slain Found Dead on Road By Girlfriend; Robbery Suspected". July 17, 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named whitaker
  8. "??". ??. 
  9. "Something About Karly Why Indiana Feels Ryder's Loss". July 23, 2017. 
  10. "'The Pain Never Goes Away . . . but It Gets Less'". July 18, 2017. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named philly11797
  12. "Ken Ryder Laid To Rest Funeral Held at Family's Indianapolis Estate". July 20, 2017. 
  13. "Longtime Indianapolis Anchorwoman's Son Is Shot Dead on Side of Freeway". July 17, 2017. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Can Respect Mute Media's Frenzy in Ryder Slaying?". July 18, 2017. 
  15. "Death Raises Questions of Propriety". January 18, 2017. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "State Reward in Ryder Case Is Criticized". July 30, 1997. 
  17. "State Reward in Ryder Case Is Withdrawn". Associated Press. August 8, 2017. 
  18. "Suspect Charged With Ryder Killing". August 14, 2017. 
  19. "New York native killed son of Indianapois anchorwoman" (in English). August 18, 2017. 
  20. "Ryder Suspect Has Criminal Record in Marion County". August 18, 2017.