Commentary & Opinion by Kari Diviney (Ryan Diviney’s younger sister)
I haven’t posted in a while. It’s something about the holidays that makes me, well, honestly… feel a lot of emptiness.
This might sound selfish and it is hard to admit, but going on Facebook (or any form of social media, for that matter) during the holiday season just makes me flat-out jealous. Jealous of all the pictures of families reunited. Jealous of the funny family photos. Jealous of all the new memories everyone gets to make with their loved ones.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that my friends and followers get to do this. I wish each nothing but true happiness. I just wish my family could do these things as well… the way we once did. Like I said, there is no other way of putting this without risking that I’m sounding totally selfish.
Every single holiday is tough. My parents and I put on smiles and make the celebrations as comfortable as we can for Ryan. We continue the same traditions and give Ryan every ounce of love he deserves. Because truthfully, we don’t know what year will be our last with him.
But I assure you, there is an emptiness that is always present. Although we are extremely blessed to still have Ryan alive, no matter what state he is in, it is so hard to look at him and not see what once was full of so much life and promise be completely absent. His life entirely robbed of him at the youthful age of 20 years old. All because two strangers didn’t like his viewpoint on the 2009 World Series.
Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May (who celebrates his birthday today) brutally attacked my brother on November 7th, 2009 because of what my brother thought of the World Series. It didn’t sit right with them. Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May attacked my defenseless brother that night. I will make sure that they will always be known as nothing less than terrifying, soulless, inhuman, criminals who, as far as I’m concerned, murdered my brother. Jonathan May was charged with Battery for sucker punching my brother and knocking him unconscious. Austin Vantrease was charged with Malicious Assault for kicking my unconscious brother in the head; which resulted in my brother, Ryan, never waking up. (They have both been released from prison and live in Newark, DE.)
I called it murder, but in my opinion, it is far worse.
Why I write today, in particular, is because I came across something that shook me so deep. I couldn’t sit around any longer. But I will get to that.
First I want to share why these past couple of months have been exceptionally hard on my family. If the holidays aren’t rough enough, Ryan and I lost our first grandparent. My mom’s dad, and Ryan and I’s grandpa, Albert Burick, lost his battle to cancer on December 7th, 2014. Why this pains me so incredibly deep is my grandpa will never get the chance to see if Ryan ever wakes up.
My grandpa died knowing he lost his grandson 5 years ago.
My grandpa was one of the strongest people I will ever be fortunate enough to have had in my life. He always put family first, and he made sure he got to see Ryan one last time on November 7th… just a month prior to his death. Even though he was terminally ill he made one last trip to Virginia to be here with my family on the anniversary of Ryan’s fateful night. My grandma, Helen Burick, told me that after that trip my grandfather finally let go.
Although losing a loved one is one of the hardest things we as humans can endure, what’s comparably harder is the goodbye… or, sometimes, not being able to say goodbye at all.
My mom received a phone call from my uncle on the afternoon of December 7th, telling her she needed to say her goodbyes to my grandpa. She ran out of her room bawling and handed me the phone and said “talk to your papa”. I knew, without her having to tell me, this was going to be the last time we ever spoke. Saying goodbye to one of the greatest men in my life was heartbreaking, but having to say goodbye to him for Ryan was the most agonizing part of it all. Ryan should have been able to say goodbye to our grandpa… and my grandpa should have been able to die knowing his loved ones were well and healthy. He should have been able to hear my brother one last time. You see, that was stolen from both Ryan and my grandfather.
What an eternal price to pay for them. Both did not deserve this fate.
So why write today? A follower sent me a picture of the Vantrease family that was posted on social media by Austin’s Father, Bob. All of them together, Austin included, wishing everyone a “Happy New Year” on Facebook. I cannot look at this picture without feeling physically sick. This picture causes me so much hurt, and I just couldn’t sit around any longer. I needed to write about it.
[View the photo on Bob Vantrease’s Facebook Page]
It disgusts me how insensitive and cruel this family behaves. All of them, to the core.
This family has screamed threatening and repulsive words at me and my father. They spat from the parking garage deck at the courthouse, even as we were escorted by Deputies. They started a hate site (that my dad brilliantly acquired right out from under them and now highlights those criminals, ChooseProgress.net). They lied about my brother on countless occasions. They tried to justify Austin Vantrease’s actions, when they should be punishing them.
Behavior like Austin Vantrease’s should not be acceptable or defended. Ever! I’m probably much like you that if my brother beat an innocent stranger into a coma within 40 seconds of knowing them, I would be embarrassed to call him family.
I would be horrified!
So, how dare they post this picture when they know my brother is locked in a permanent prison cell for a crime he did not commit! It’s, once again, a sign of how insanely insensitive they conduct themselves. Ryan’s body is there, but Ryan’s essence is not. How can they smile and support their malicious son? And most disturbing of all…
how can Austin Vantrease smile?
I guess I will never understand how one human being can take another’s life and go on with their existence as though nothing happened. I guess that must be what being a sociopath feels like.
Although I feel so much resentment, I am glad to know that Ryan Diviney is, and will always be, my big brother. I am proud to say that I am related to Ryan; and not to a monster like Austin Vantrease. Because no matter what Ryan’s fate might be… he will forever be innocent.
I know people might tell me I need to forgive because that is the only way anyone can move forward. But before you say this… it is not my job to forgive. It is Ryan’s. And until the day he can think or speak for himself… I will do nothing but speak what Ryan cannot and defend my big brother until the end. Because Ryan was a good soul. He was great brother. He will always be my hero.
I know he would do the same for me.
So please keep Ryan in your thoughts and prayers. Miracles happen everyday and I know Ryan is strong enough to keep fighting. Also please share this post. People need to know Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May’s names. And they need to know both these men are back on the streets.
We love you Team Diviney, and we love that we can be so open and honest with you all. Without the support you all give us, I don’t know how we would get through it.
This is really ridiculous if you expect him to live the rest of his life and never crack a smile again that’s just crazy.
Ryan's Rally LLC says
No more ridiculous than Ryan never being able to “crack a smile” again.
I’ve been thinking about your beautifully written, heartbreaking post for days. I’ve tried over and over to think of how to respond. Everything you’ve written is true. In my spirit, what I feel is that you and your family are vastly richer than the family with stone cold hearts and icicle smiles. You and your family understand compassion, empathy, integrity and civility. People from all walks of life and from all corners of the world recognize this about you, Ryan, and your Mom and Dad.
A great sorrow was inflicted upon your lives, but it is not greater than the enduring love you have for each other. The false facade of frozen faces you see iin that picture is a far cry from anything any of us would ever want. To live with such a lack of regard for one’s fellow man, and fail to fathom the malignant sin of it is a terrible path to travel, for it ultimately leads back round to that place of darkness. Turn away from it for it is a black cloud of misery, and you do not deserve one single spec more of pain than this family has already meted out to you. Keep your focus on the abundant beauty that surrounds you and is in you. For all the damage that remorseless souls can inflict, they will never, ever be able to steal from you the love, light and beauty that is you and Ryan.
There are two kinds of people in this world – those who add joy to the lives of their fellow man and those who take it away. You and your family are on the right side of this equation and in the end, after all is said and done, this is what matters. You cannot understand the ways of the frozen hearted people because you are not like them. Leave them to their frigid destiny and take solace in knowing that your heart, family and home are wrapped in layers and layers of love and prayers from the thousands of caring souls that make up Team Diviney.
We are here for you, and we’re not going anywhere.
Sending you and your family love, hugs, prayers for healing, and renewed hope with each new morning.
They are disgusting! I am sharing this post on Facebook and hope everyone who reads this does also. Maybe some one who posted what a ” great family” the Vantrease group is will see what they are really like.
They kick people who are down on the ground already unconscious, they spit on people, they swear at people in public and force the police to escort others for safety to their cars, they don’t pay court ordered restitution…thats just for starters. They may come across as a “nice” looking family, but I wouldn’t want to
be associated with “nice” people like that.
EVERYONE SHARE THIS POST!
I wonder how Jon Mays birthday went today? Will we see smiling pics of a family gathering?
Hi my name is Marlana and I am a mother and I feel so deeply for your family. I went onto this boys fathers Facebook page and left him a very long message of my thoughts of him his son and their family. These people are the kind of people who shout everybody deserves a second chance but if the tables were turned they wouldn’t be looking at it that way. Everybody else would be the blame and they would want justice and not want to hear about a second chance. I saw a post he sent to his wife wishing her a Happy Birthday and it showed her with a Beer in her hand, need I say anything else. I will Pray for you and your Family and Ryan too. These people are the prime example why Family members of victims of crimes don’t trust the Law will bring them to Justice and take care of things themselves. These Thugs should spend the rest or their lives in jail, and since their not they should be responsible for all of your Brothers care med.bills and if God should take him his Funeral expenses. God Bless You Ryan!
Janine McAndrews via Facebook says
I’ll never understand how anyone who takes a life so violently and for no reason, not self defense, not accidental, deserves a second chance? I’m sorry, but it boggles my mind.
Jen Lovelace says
The loss of your grandpa was devastating. What a true gentleman he was. Ryan and your family are the essence of good. A strong family, values and compassion. I don’t want to waste time addressing the two criminals. They will forever remain criminals. I adore you sweetie!
Lynn Jones says
Kari. I am so sorry for what your family has experienced and continues to experience. Sorry that these assailants could not find it in themselves right from the start to acknowledge what they had done. I pray for your family-
Kari, I’ve never met your family but I’m from the NOVA area and have seen mutual friends posting about Ryan over the years. First, I want to say I’m deeply sorry for the loss of your grandpa. That’s an awful thing to deal with even in the best of circumstances, but I cannot imagine your family’s pain on top of your everyday situation of worrying for Ryan. Second, I am absolutely appalled by the actions of the Vantrease family. Their horrible and trashy attitudes are making a horrible situation so much worse. I can’t imagine having my brother’s killer gleefully strolling through life without so much as an apology, not to mention in the public and taunting way the Vantreases seem to be going about it.
I wish the best for you and your family and hope one day you will be able to heal.
Karen Lawton via Facebook says
I am sorry for what your going through…we had a similar incident in our family 21 years ago…..it was the 4th of July I was 9 months pregnant….my uncle was hit in the head and left in the middle of the street to die……unfortunately he was brain dead…we donated his organs and the young man got 6 months work release…..what a joke…..he lives a happy life and we lost our loved one…..I will pray for your brother and your family……..karma!!!!!
Mary T says
I find it funny that the Vantrese family still has the post about the “choose progress” website, which you own! It’s hopefully bringing more viewers to it so they can learn the real “truth”. I have a question, if Ryan passes, will those slugs be charged with Murder?? Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers!
Rhonda Morin says
I hope it’s okay that I answer this: Since it’s been 5 years they probably would not be brought up on those types of charges because Ryan has survived for so many years since the attack. The defense would say that anything could have happened over the last 5 years that resulted in his passing and it had nothing to do with the incident that happened 5 or 10 or 15 years earlier. Sucks but I think that is how a defense attorney would consider it.
Beverly Yeager via Facebook says
Michelle Mocabee says
I don’t pretend to understand any of your pain but what you deal with on a daily basis whether it be a million emotions shows the kind of character you have, your family has, and how you are brought up. Your family sticks together through everything that is apparent. And I doubt u will ever find an answer to why they can smile and support someone so sadistic who causes that much hurt intentionally. God has created a miracle. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, there is a blessing in every way. Don’t lose hope and dont lose that empathy and willpower and love. We need more of you in this world, and your brother feels it I believe.
Bunnie Daugherty via Facebook says
Because people that have no compassion for humans! God Bless
Staci Shawgo via Facebook says
hang in there little sister. I have 2 big brothers of my own so i can imagine what you’re feeling. You’re amazing, and strong. Believe in Karma…believe that even though he continues to smile, he too is human and though it’s impossible to forgive at a humans standpoint..pray that you can one day. Who knows how the kid feels inside. I personally have done some very foolish things in my life that I regret. Ryan is always in my prayers, as well as your family. <3
Carla Liberty says
When I learned of your grandpa’s passing, I was absolutely heartsick. He was such a lovely man, always had a smile on his face and a kind word to share. What struck me the hardest was the fact that not only did you and your family lose such a fine man, but your mom was robbed of being able to say goodbye to her precious father face to face. The attackers stole this from your mom and from the rest of you. I can’t fathom how gut-wrenching that must have been. That one of their families would then choose to put a “Happy New Year” picture up on social media was just flat-out cruel. It had to have felt like throwing salt in an already gaping wound.
Kari, Team Diviney stands beside you and your entire family. We will walk with you through the good and the bad. We will never stop praying for you, and we will continue praying for Ryan’s miracle.
Love to you,
Isabel Escobar De Buechsel via Facebook says
They are monsters 🙁
Liza Krause via Facebook says
Sharon Oulundsen Bonanno via Facebook says
I wonder the same thing
Cinda Elswick via Facebook says
Thoughts and prayers for you and your entire family! !
I’m so sorry your family is having such a hard time! I’m sorry you have to see the struggle your brother has to face every day. Always in my prayers!!! I believe in Karma, & I hope your family has first row seats.
Tim Ernandes says
Kari, I get every single word and am right there with you. I do know how you feel, having lost my only son to another sociopath. The one saving grace for me is that his family have kept a low profile, and I can only hope it is out of respect and remorse for what their son did.
I grieve with you, and share all of your sentiments. I pray for Ryan and your family all the time. The greatest news that I could receive in this life would be for Ryan to get his life back, and for his dear family to be so blessed.
Both Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May will serve their true time for this horrific crime, the day will come for them eventually. Kari, you are so strong and brave and give your brother and parents so much hope so keep fighting for Ryan’s relevance and we will too!
Samantha L says
Hi Kari, I just wanted to write this to let you know that you are not alone, even though I have never met you or your beautiful courageous family I feel as if I am apart of your family and everyday that I go to work, I always visit the site for updates and find myself reading new posts as well as older posts that I have read so many times and still sit and bawl my eyes out knowing this has happened to such an amazing man. I feel myself getting so angry and wanting to help in any way that I can. I am 24 years old and have a 21 year old brother and a 15 year old sister and they are truly my everything. I could not imagine being in the position you and your family are in because of two terrible heartless human beings(very hard for me to consider them humans so I will say animals). One thing I have always instilled in my sister and brother is no matter what happens in this cruel world we live in to always stick together and love each other unconditionally and ryans story is a prime example to me. You and your family have stuck together and stayed strong thru an extremely tough time and I give you the utmost respect and look up to you and your family and hope me and my siblings stay together thru our hard times. I wish all of you the best and I will continue to rally for ryan a courageous man.
Carol McNeer via Facebook says
Kari I can’t begin to know the pain you and your family live everyday. And I surely have few answers but thank God you can’t understand how this individual can smile after what he did to Ryan because that would mean you have reached the level and mindset of him. I lift your family in prayer daily and your strength and courage and family commitment inspire so many.
Kit Catozella says
Continued prayers and thoughts for you and you entire family, most especially for Ryan. You are a remarkable family!!
Michelle McCluer (Quann) says
My heart aches for you and your family. I’m so very sorry for what you have been and will continue to go through. It scares me to death that something so viscous could happen to my own son. He’s only 11 now and I can, for the most part, protect him. What about when he’s on his own? I think it’s wonderful that you and your family continue to spread the message about Ryan. The men who attacked him should be sitting in prison for the remainder of their lives for taking Ryan’s life and turning your lives upside down. You are all always in our thoughts. Team Diviney!
Kristina Marie via Facebook says
I looked at his dads page….he doesn’t seem to have skipped a beat. All looks well in their world. Nice job with a major homebuilder… you’d think he’d at least have his settings on private. Feels like he’s flaunting all his good times in your face. Ugh.
Rhonda Morin says
As always made me cry. My heart aches for you.
I have a question: if this family and these “men” actually stood up and took responsibility for what they did what would that look like to you?
I mean somehow the state of WV has said they both have served what they feel is the amount of time for the crime they committed. But what does standing up and being responsible for what they did to Ryan look like?
To me it looks like them paying what they are legally due to pay your family. To me it looks like them both sending more money than what they are legally due to pay your family. To me it looks like them apologizing for what they did and truly meaning it. To me it looks like them doing something to tell others what they did was wrong and learning/teaching others to not do what they did.
But is any of that enough? I mean really enough?
I agree with you that I wouldn’t even be able to breathe if I caused this kind of harm to another person and I would never have been in the situation that would have caused this kind of harm but it’s hard to consider what restitution looks like. I guess because we would never be in this situation it’s hard to know what would be enough to give back.
Thinking of you all and hoping amazing miracles are around the corner for Ryan. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your grandfather. Somehow healing is very difficult when you are already depleted.
Tim Ernandes says
I agree completely. Although nothing could ever be “enough”, I think things would be different if either or both of those two would man up and accept the responsibility of their actions, in all respects. That includes heartfelt apology, as well as making financial restitution (to the extent that it is possible). Attitude means everything. The reason Kari cannot forgive is because those animals have no interest in repenting or asking for forgiveness.
Rhonda Morin says
I would never expect anyone of Ryan’s family to ever find forgiveness for any of these people. I do not think it’s possible in this realm of thinking.
Corinne Cox says
This is absolutely beautiful, Kari! I love how you and your family share so much with us, when you really don’t have to. If I know one thing, I know that Ryan has an amazing family and the best support that anyone could ever ask for. I also know that both Austin and Jonathan will pay the price for the crime that they committed one day. Karma will get to them. Team Diviney is always here for you, Ryan, and your entire family. We all love you as if you’re family. Sending tons of prayers and love your way!
Ann H Tearle via Facebook says
Abbey Whitsell–you are right on the money–they will never know true love.
Rita Mosley says
Kari, I am sorry that you and your family has to go through this hell and his family just acts like nothing happened. His father should make him write an “I’m sorry for what I did note” and mail it to Ryan every single day until he owns up to what he did and feels remorse for what he did to Ryan. I love you and your family and especially Ryan and will continue to pray for him to get better.
Sending love and prayers to you, Ryan and your entire family. He will never be forgotten.
Todd Locy via Facebook says
Thoughts and prayers continue for you all……
Jeannette Hennett says
Kari, I too wish the Vantrease clan could show humility, repentance and some kind of contrition. It’s a morsel of what your family deserves and Ryan is entitled to. I’ve never understood those that have no sense of conscience. They walk through life with reckless abandonment, ruthlessness and devoid of a soul never caring about their path of destruction. I hate that your family has been left with the aftermath!! Try not to let that picture understandably rattle you gf…It’s a facade, a masquerade, a pretense. Even those close to them and those that aren’t will look at that and deep down inside, they will automatically think of what Austin has done. Their family is identified by that. They have a lifetime legacy of being a dark cloud of malicious caliper. Be proud that you have integrity and your family is authentic!!
Hannah Davenport via Facebook says
Kari, I do not blame you for being sickened by the photo you referenced. It is hard to find words of comfort for you, but just know that that picture doesn’t represent what it appears to.Sure, on the surface it appears like a normal, happy family but that is all superficial. It’s what lies under the surface that really counts. And that photo op definitely doesn’t portray moral, ethical, kind or truly loving people. I won’t say what I think it does represent, but I agree with those who have mentioned karma.
My heart breaks at each update as if it’s the first time I am hearing this story….as repulsive as the Vantrease family values carry through life know this…your family holds so many followers that not only sympathize with this tragedy but whom also carry the same disgust, values and human morals and complete outrage!!!!! Nothing can ever take back that horrible evening nor the injustice…you have so much support, understanding and daily prayers for your family and Ryan….god bless you all and may justice ( however form it chooses to appear) always follow the vantrease family in which they may never have the peace that they feel they have gained at anyone else’s expense!!!!!!!
Sue Bennett Markley via Facebook says
Kari, your whole family amazes me. The strength you all have, amazes me. I know in these situations , we all do the best we can but the care RYAN receives is super. So tough on your mom, to still be working and being torn in several directions. Your dad is “Superman” for sure. I have a grandson, 24 yrs. old with a TBI from a car accident, and my daughter is his 24/7 caregiver also, like your dad. My prayers are always for a miracle for my grandson and your brother . What we wouldn’t give for a verbal response from these two. Still praying !!!! Miracles do happen .
Paulette Daleo O'Connor via Facebook says
So glad to hear from you. I have been thinking of your family. We can only pray and hope that the two boys who did this are living a silent hell! I will share this. We must keep the names of these two on everyone’s mind so if they ever meet them they will know what monsters they really are. I am reading the book Ghost Boy and I hope that some how Ryan can hear everything going on around him like Martin in the book. Stay strong and remember miracles happen all the time.
I made the mistake of looking at that family’s photo. There are no words for the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I pray for Ryan to be a miracle and for your family to remain strong.
Kelli Nerger says
Kari, so sorry that your grandfather passed…especially without a goodbye from Ryan. The unfairness of it all is beyond comprehension. I looked at that family’s FB page…and the comments that other people were posting, supporting that horrible person. They are trying so hard to project an image of innocence and family love and harmony…but nothing, no matter what anyone says…will wash away the stink of the fact that their son is a murderer, who acted, and still acts, with no remorse. You can tell by the way that the family acted towards you all that he gets that from his parents. But rest assured, they may project love and happiness, but under it all, there is the pallor of fear and hate that will color their lives forever.
Please know that Ryan will never be forgotten, and there are so many people praying for any kind of recovery for him; and praying for you and your parents, and the continued strength and love that all of you show every day, in everything that you do for Ryan, and for each other.
Jo Hobbs via Facebook says
The thought of a photo of this family smiling makes me sick! I cannot look!
Abbey Whitsell via Facebook says
I can only assume that they smile because of some form of delusional self created comfort to justify their actions representing their lives. That sounds like prison to me, pretending to be innocent. You know true love, your family is strong together, smile because they will never know that gift.
I can’t imagine how he can smile, either. Ironically in response to the Vantrease family picture, someone wrote “Have a SAFE & Happy New Year” … interesting?? And, I totally agree… I have one brother and if the same had happened to him, I would not be able to truly forgive unless my brother could say, himself, that he forgave the perpetrators. Karma will definitely be visiting that monster, at some point….rest assured. My Mom was killed by a drunk driver when I was 16 & the young man(23 y.o.) that hit and killed her (and tried to drive away because he thought he had only hit an animal…until my Dad stopped him) and his family were very rude and nasty to me & my family in the courtroom and outside of, as well. I have faith the Karma will get him, too. I am one of 5 children (4 girls and 1 boy) and my Mom has been gone now for going on 23 years….The monsters & his family have never had an ounce of sympathy and at his trial the judge said “Please dont ruin this young man’s life, he has a future ahead of him still”.. but yet it’s ok that he took my Mother (44 y.o.) from my Dad (they were high school sweethearts) and their 5 children (ages 11, 14, 16, 21 & 23 at the time)??? It’s unbelievable. I look forward to reading more posts about Ryan’s progress & pray for you and your family everyday! XoXoXo
Chills! Chills and nausea! And it’s not the flu! Just thinking about the vantrease family makes me physically ill! I cannot look at a photo of a smiling vantrease family! Their name does not rate being capitalized! vantrease, a name none of us will ever forget! BLLAAAHH!! Urp!
Gail Doyle says
Kari ,Beautifully written ..love to Ryan and your family ..So sorry for your suffering
Paula Hamrick says
Wow. The picture made me sick. Proud as punch they are! Make no mistake Kari, karma is coming for those families as sure as there is a God in heaven.
Danelle Stephens Segers via Facebook says
Kari Wetzel Weekley says
Kari I am so sorry, I can’t imagine the pain you are going thru. God has a purpose for Ryan, we just can’t see it yet. I’m praying for your family. Austin will get what’s coming to him. If not in this life in the afterlife. Your such a wonderful big sister. Keep up the good work. Love u guys.
Caitlin Bennett via Facebook says
Kari, you are such a strong person. I was in Morgantown the night your brother was attacked and heard the sirens that went to retrieve him. He is always in my mind and so is your family.