Ryan Aubrey Luke
December 28, 1992 - March 5, 1995
Find A Grave Memorial

On March 4, 1995, a little boy was taken to the hospital suffering from blunt trauma to his head. Ryan Aubrey Luke would die the next day from his injuries. Ryan's mother, boyfriend and father would all be charged with first degree murder, but only two of these people would be convicted.

Ryan was no stranger to to pain, having been born on December 28, 1992, he would be seen  many times over the next few years with bruises on his body and with black eyes. In January of 1995, Ryan was admitted to the hospital with a spiral fracture to his left leg which left him in a full body cast and on January 13, 1995, Ryan was taken into the custody of the Department Of Human Services and an investigation was started for child abuse. Wendy and Larry were suspected of causing the injury to Ryan's leg and on January 27, 1995, Don Luke, Ryan's grandfather was given custody of this little Angel.

Ron Luke would continuously cover for his daughter when Ryan showed signs of abuse and in March of 1995, Ryan's mother and her boyfriend, Larry Tannehill, had Ryan with them because Ron Luke had returned Ryan to Wendy's care.  Wendy and Larry were both arrested on drug and weapons charges in Kansas that same month and  Ryan would be dead less than three days later. Child Protective Services was not notified that Ron would be returning Ryan to his mother.

On March 4, 1995, Ryan was still in a body cast from the broken leg, when Wendy called her father and told him that she could not get Ryan to wake up. Instead of taking Ryan to the hospital, Don took him to the newspaper office where he was the managing editor and waited two hours before he called for help from paramedics. People actually saw Don trying to revive his grandson and didn't call police or the hospital. Kevin Harvison said that he was in the newsroom on the day that Don brought his grandson and laid him on the desk, unconscious and tried to revive him and that Don kept on working as well as trying to revive his grandson. Why didn't Kevin call 911 is what I would like to know.

In court, an emergency medical technician said that Wendy knew or believed that her boyfriend was abusing her son and that she said she was going to move out of their home. Steve Reed said that he was called to the McAlester News Capital & Democratic newspaper and there he found Ryan was laid on a desk, in a body cast and was unconscious, unable to breath and his skin was blue. Ryan was rushed to the hospital where Steve then asked Wendy if her son had ever been abused and Wendy pointed the finger at Larry:

"She kind of shrugged her shoulders. She said "I've never actually witnesses him abuse Ryan,
but I have my suspicions. These types of incidents are why I'm leaving him today"

Dr Delta Bridges was also in court and said that he had been Ryan's pediatrician for the first 11 months of his life and during that time, he had never seen any signs of child abuse. Dr. Bridges said in court that the severe head trauma, internal bleeding in the head of the child and the brain swelling that was present could have been cause by the child having been shaken very hard, several times adding that if he had received immediate medical care, he might have lived though he would have had permanent brain damage.

In January of 1996, Wendy Luke plead guilty to first degree manslaughter in the death of Ryan and agreed to cooperate with the police in order to convict Larry Tannehill. At one point, Wendy wanted to take back her plea and then changed her mind. Wendy was sentenced to 30 years with ten of those years suspended since she agreed to testify against Larry:

"As a mother I failed to protect him. I had the wrong lifestyle choice"

It always makes me angry when I see that people can kill a child and then make deals and trades for less time in prison. Wendy should have testified against Larry because it was the RIGHT THING TO DO FOR RYAN. The fact that she would testify to get less time in prison shows me just how much of selfish piece of trash she is.

During the April 1996 trial of Larry Tannehill, Defense attorney Gary James had a witness who would testify that it was Wendy who hurt Ryan and not Larry and his Co Counsel, Ronnie May stated that the witness would say that Wendy had a habit of grabbing Ryan by the forehead and shaking him when he made her angry.

Also testifying in the trial would be a five year old little boy, Larry's son, Trevor. Trevor had previously been interviewed behind closed doors and said that he saw his father hurt Ryan on March 4th. Dr. Maher Eldadah, the director of the Pediatric ICU at St. Francis Hospital said in court that Ryan had been admitted with a fresh fingernail mark on his left temple and small bruises on the other side of his head and that Ryan had died of shaken baby syndrome and blunt force trauma to his head. The Defense said that Ryan had been abused before Larry became part of his life when he started to date Wendy in November of 1994.

Kevin Harvison said in court that made the employees at the paper baby sit his grandson and drive his daughter to run errands and that Wendy always seemed to have a major crisis going on in her life and would go to her father and ask him to help her. Ron would eventually be charged with first degree murder in the case though that charged would be reduced to second degree manslaughter at a later date.

In May of 1996, Larry Tannehill walked out of court after a jury found him not guilty of first degree murder. Larry and his lawyers were met with hugs and cheers as they left the courtroom and the Prosecutor was reported to have put her down on the table and cried. Family, friends and the lawyers for Larry were all happy about the decision:

"It's been over a year. He has been through hell. We knew the evidence would show that Larry
Tannehill didn't do this. It's the saddest case I've ever been involved with"
Gary James

"Thank God it's over. It's been rough"
Larry Tannehill

In January of 1997, Don Luke plead not guilty in the death of Ryan:

"It appears we're going to trial. We're anxious to get this matter resolved"
Defense Attorney - Warren Gotcher

Special Prosecutor, Diane Barker Harrold, had been given permission to amend the charge of second degree manslaughter to include information that Ron had put Ryan into harms way by allowing his daughter and Larry to take custody of him.

Don Luke was found guilty of second degree manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison.


Ryan Aubrey Luke, 2, of McAlester, died Sunday at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Funeral services will be at 2: p.m., Wednesday at Bishop Chapel of Memories in McAlester with Rev. Paul Crosby officiating. Burial will be at Memory Gardens Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the directions of Bishop Funeral Service of McAlester.

Born Dec. 22, 1992 in McAlester, he lived a short time in Lawton before moving to McAlester. Survivors include his mother, Wendy Luke, of the home, maternal grandfather, Don Luke, of the home, maternal grandmother, Kathleen Byers of Olathe, Ks; maternal great-grandparents, Leonard and Blanche Luke of Lawton; maternal great-grandmother, Germaine and the late John Ryan of Elgin; uncle, Ward Byers III of Olathe, KS; great-aunts, Susan Luke of Forth Worth, TX, and Mary Ellen and George Kilgore of Elgin' and several other aunts, uncles and cousins. Serving as pallbearers will be James Beaty, Jason Smith, Bobby Tucker and J. W. Martin.

Thank you to Anastasia for making me aware of the tragic story of Ryan's life.

This page was created on August 24, 2013
Death Occurred in the state of Oklahoma

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