May 30 is a date that the Leitzke family of Vista can never forget. It was the day in 1993 that nine-year-old Ryan Leitzke was left to die on the roadside, hit by a driver who didn’t stop. The accident occurred in the 3000 block of Buena Creek Road.
Each year on May 30, and Ryan’s birthday, November 25, Ryan’s mom, Linda Leitzke, pays for a full-length obituary in the U-T. But the obit isn’t about his life or his survivors. It pleads for any information, asking the public for help in locating Ryan’s killer.
Linda Leitzke, who now is an in-home caregiver, also maintains the Facebook page “Remembering Ryan Leitzke.” Her phone’s voice-mail message still reminds callers to help find her son’s killer.
The information she shares with anyone interested is that reportedly the driver was a “30-ish looking white man with wispy-looking blond hair about shoulder length, driving a beige Toyota truck with multi-colored stripes running along the side, from front to back.”
It was reported that the truck appeared to have painting poles and supplies in the bed of the truck.
Surprisingly, a CHP investigator at the Oceanside office was able to put his hands on the file almost immediately at the request of CHP spokesperson Jim Bettencourt.
“Cold-case files on fatalities are never destroyed,” said Bettencourt. “It’s still an open file.” Unfortunately, the last entry was in 2000.
Bettencourt reminded that it’s not like people see on TV where a case is wrapped up in 52 minutes. As an example, when someone is murdered in a house, there is probably going to be some evidence that will eventually lead to a suspect. In over 50 percent of these evidentiary cases, the victim knew their killer.
“It is very difficult to prosecute a hit-and-run,” said Bettencourt. Even if witnesses have a license-plate number, the DA would still have to prove it was that particular driver, at that exact time, driving the car.
The Leitzkes had three other children at the time of the accident; they are now ages 26, 28, and 32, and Linda says they think of their brother Ryan often. Following the death of Ryan, the Leitzkes' marriage failed; unfortunately, this is most often the result when parents lose a child tragically.
Linda openly publishes her contact number — 760-522-7446 — hoping for any possible leads.