Artist creates portraits shining fresh light on cold missing persons cases

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WATERVLIET, N.Y. (NEWS10) — November 1st marks 14 years since the disappearance of 12-year-old Jaliek Rainwalker. The Washington County child’s case is considered cold, but Jaliek is one of many other missing people in the Capital Region.

Watervliet artist Ryan Hanley is trying to shine a light on these cases. He is widely known for his portraits. But his current subjects, or rather their current situation, is unknown. That’s because they are missing.

He had the idea while watching reports on the story of Gabby Petito.

“And I was watching it just like everyone else and just started randomly googling missing people and noticed how many people are missing in the Albany area,” he said.

People like Dariel Young. Five years ago, he vanished without a trace from Albany’s South Side. Ryan spoke with Dariel’s daughter while creating this portrait of her dad.

“When you speak to the families and hear how it devastated their lives. Years go by and you have no answers,” he said.

Then there’s Jaliek Rainwalker. Jaliek was just 12 when he disappeared on November 1, 2007. New York State Police have said they suspect foul play.

His adoptive father Stephen Kerr remains a person of interest, but the case has yet to be prosecuted and there’s never been any arrest. Anya Tucker spoke with Jaliek’s grandmother and asked her what she thought of Ryan’s work.

“Oh, it’s beautiful,” she said. “The more feelers, thoughts, photos that are out there, there’s hope.”

“If I can use my art to somehow bring some awareness to this, I would love to do that. I think it’s important,” said Ryan.

Ryan says he doesn’t just replicate old photos, but he uses them to create an entirely new image.

His next portrait will be of Ashley Carroll. The Troy mom who’s been missing for 11 years. She planned on going to New York City, but police don’t think she ever made it there.

He says he plans on giving the portraits to family members as he continues his project so that what happened to the people in them will one day be revealed.

Visit Ryan’s website to learn more about his work.

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