November 14, 2022 | by Eric Benitez
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
When Ryan Goss was young, he sang “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed at his school’s talent show while his mom, Jennifer, watched proudly from the stands. “He loved to sing,” Jennifer said. “He wasn’t shy at all. It was nothing for him to get up in front of a room full of people.” On November 14, 2017, Ryan was found murdered on the street of his hometown, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, dead from a gunshot wound at the age of 26. The killer has not been found and the case is cold.
Ryan was born in Oklahoma City and spent his entire life there. With blonde hair and blue eyes, Ryan was an outgoing child with a big imagination. As a boy, he entertained himself by dressing up as a Power Ranger, a cowboy, and other favorite characters. When Ryan was in his mid-teens, his grandfather, who had a painting company, introduced him to construction and he loved it immediately. He enjoyed framing houses and had a natural talent for walking across the beams. For his main occupation, Ryan was a galvanizer for Southwestern Wire and aspired to join the Air Force.
Ryan was unmarried but was in a complicated relationship at the time of his murder. He loved spending time with his young daughters at the park and the fair when it came to town. He and his family celebrated one of his daughters’ birthdays at the park. The kids hit the pinata and the family spent time catching up with each other outside. It’s one of Jennifer’s favorite memories of Ryan and his daughters. “He was a great dad. He loved his girls,” Jennfier said. “He wanted to be a part of their lives.” Ryan had three daughters, one of whom he never had the chance to meet.
Ryan was a homebody; He went to work and came straight home. He enjoyed being out and about from time to time, but he loved to go relax by the lake. He enjoyed going to the bar and drinking a Corona with his friends. He loved spending time with his family. As a kid, Ryan and his family often spent family vacations at Turner Falls, located in the Arbuckle Mountains in Davis, Oklahoma. It was a place that Jennifer had gone with her parents long before Ryan was born. She loved vacationing there and wanted to pass down the experience to Ryan who would have loved to do the same for his daughters. Ryan was the firstborn child of Jennifer’s five children. While Jennifer would never play favorites with her children, she acknowledges there was something special about her relationship with her firstborn.
“Ryan was probably the first time I ever really knew what it was to love somebody, you know, more than myself,” Jennifer said. “I guess you could say he was my first love, really.” Jennifer had a close relationship with Ryan. They lived together for a period before Ryan was murdered. During that time, they saw and talked to each other every day which made it even more difficult for Jennifer when she lost him.
Ryan’s body was discovered by a man who was on his way to work on a November morning. The police responded to the call and deemed the case a homicide. Ryan had been shot twice. Jennifer said there was an audio surveillance recording of the incident, but there was no shouting or commotion that led up to the sound of the gunshots firing. Police officials believe that the killer had to be someone that Ryan was comfortable being around. In 2017, the year Ryan was murdered, Oklahoma City’s crime rate was significantly higher than that of the United States as a whole. Oklahoma City saw an estimated 498.4 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, while the United States had approximately 382.9. Also, police investigations have had a lower-than-ideal success rate in the city. According to LFR Metrics, the number of person crimes that are cleared through arrest, prosecution, or other means falls well below police standards.
Jennifer says she thinks of Ryan every day and can’t help but wonder who committed the crime and why, though she tries not to dwell on it. The holidays are difficult for Jennifer to get through. She and her family celebrate Christmas largely for her daughter but knowing that Ryan won’t be there to spend time with them is difficult for them to cope with. Jennifer and her family still get together on Ryan’s birthday to be with one another and celebrate his life. Although everyone grieves Ryan’s passing and miss him dearly, it’s made the family stronger and brought them closer.
Anyone with information on the unsolved murder of Ryan Goss is asked to call the Oklahoma City Police Department Homicide Tip Line at (405) 297-1200.
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