The Mystery of Keith Ryan

A security guard walks outside the residence of
American diplomat Keith Ryan in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 28, 2008.
— (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Feb 1, 2008 (TIMES OF INDIA) — ISLAMABAD: A US diplomat in-charge of security was found dead in his residence here on Monday [Jan 28] with a bullet wound, apparently shooting himself in the head, police said. Full Report

There may be more to the story. Keith Ryan was the son of Boston Globe sports writer, Bob Ryan. According to today’s article at Editor’s and Publisher’s, Ryan “was about to return home to visit his wife and three children in Silver Spring, Md.”. Now, why would a man known to be a devoted father and husband kill himself just before a family reunion?

Our curiosity piqued, we did a bit of online sleuthing and discovered the content of a news item that appeared in The News, an online, English language Pakistan news source. We did a Google search for the article but came up with nothing. Then we decided to use the opening sentence of the quoted article in the search. Bingo! Here is the ‘screen capture’ of the result:

Google grab

We clicked on the link, but we could find no such article at the URL. Even the cached version is missing. It’s been replaced with a different article — in the space of three days. However, we have the article as posted in a forum at

ISLAMABAD: In a shocking incident, a diplomat of the American Embassy was found dead in his house in F-7/3 on Monday, police said.

Keith Ryan, 36 belonged to the ‘Homeland Security Department’ of the US Embassy (the department cooperating with the Pakistani authorities in war against terrorism) and was to return home on Monday morning after completion of his tenure in Pakistan, the sources said.

The victim had bullet wound in the upper back portion of his neck, the sources at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said, adding his death was caused by excessive bleeding. The police, on the information of the staff members of the US Embassy, recovered the body of the diplomat and a 9 mm gun from the bathroom.

The police had earlier declared it suicide. The pathologists at the PIMS hospital confirmed that Ryan sustained bullet injury on the rear upper neck. The medico-legal experts, however, said he was murdered.

“There is only an entry wound on the rear upper portion of his neck but no exit wound,” the sources revealed, adding that the bullet could not be found even in X-Ray report. “There is no visible blackening of the entry wound, indicating that the shot was fired from the distance of more than four feet”, the sources claimed.

Keith was scheduled to leave for the USA by Qatar Airways flight QA-398 at 8.45 AM on Monday after completion of his tenure and his colleague, Mr. David Dean, an employee of the USA Embassy, came to his house at about 6.00am to give him a ride to Islamabad Airport but he found nobody at his house. The sources quoting the witness said, “As he opened the door of the bathroom, Keith was lying dead in the bathtub while a gun was lying three feet away from the tub. He was wearing knickers.”

Inspector General of Police Islamabad Shahid Nadeem Baluch when contacted by this correspondent said, “We cannot say anything before getting the postmortem report. No doubt, there are many questions to answer but it would be immature to make any opinion at this early stage”.

The SSP Islamabad, Syed Kaleem Imam said, “It is very early to reach any conclusion”, adding that an inquiry team headed by SP (East) Nasir Aftab has started investigation to ascertain the cause of death. He said that the team was interrogating the security guards on duty and other people serving in the house.

Responding to a question, the SSP said that bloodstains were found in the bathroom, not in his bedroom or any other place of his house.

“Postmortem of the victim has not yet been conducted and we are trying to offer the supervision of representatives of the American Embassy during autopsy”, an officer of the Islamabad police said when asked.

Meanwhile, the PIMS administration claimed that they have not received any official request from the police or any other authority for postmortem but the deputy commissioner office when contacted said that additional district magistrate would officially write to PIMS for an autopsy.

Keith’s wife and three children are on a pleasure trip to England these days. Talking to The News, the US embassy spokesperson said, “We have been informed that the next of kin have been notified. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all his family. Ryan was a well respected, trusted, and longtime member of the U.S. Mission in Pakistan. His death is a great loss. He will be sorely missed by all who have known and worked with him here in Pakistan. There will be a full investigation; however, there does not appear to have been any foul play.”

The News understands that the US Embassy feels that it is a case of suicide and that it was not a terrorist related incident. AFP adds from Washington: There is no suggestion of foul play in the death of a US diplomat who was found shot at his home in the Pakistani capital on Monday, the State Department said.

Spokesman Sean McCormack identified the diplomat as Keith Ryan, an attache from the Department of Homeland Security working on immigration and customs enforcement at the Islamabad embassy. “It’s a sad, sad event,” McCormack told reporters, expressing condolences to Ryan’s family.

Investigations were continuing, he said, “but we have no indication at this point that it involves foul play.” No further details were available on Ryan, who Pakistani police said had apparently shot himself in the head. [Emphasis PID]

Suicide or murder? Let’s just say, we can’t help thinking about poor Vince Foster. — PID