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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Family: Body found behind East Peoria shopping plaza was Ryan Sailors

  • EAST PEORIA — The turning point for Ryan Sailors, whose body apparently was found Wednesday behind a shopping center, came in November 2009 when his father died from lung cancer.
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  • EAST PEORIA — The turning point for Ryan Sailors, whose body apparently was found Wednesday behind a shopping center, came in November 2009 when his father died from lung cancer.
    Family members look back on the loss of their patriarch as the time when the affable, popular and competitive oldest of five siblings surrendered to depression, and soothed the pain with oblivion afforded by inhalants.
    The five years since then have been a roller coaster ride of addiction — repeated trips to hospitals and jails punctuated by transient periods of sobriety, the family says. Sailors was still wearing the bracelet from his last hospital stay when he died in a field behind the Fondulac Shopping Center sometime over the last few weeks.
    A group searching for a different man who had been staying in the woods there found the body Wednesday. An autopsy was performed Thursday but the Tazewell County Coroner’s Office wouldn’t release any information.
    Based on evidence found at the scene, family members were told the body was likely that of Sailors.
    Throughout it all, Ryan Sailors was loved, even if his impulses complicated the lives of those closest to him, his sister said Thursday.
    “He wasn’t just a homeless guy with no family — he was loved,” Stephanie Sailors said. “It was depression. This could have happened to anybody.”
    The man Ryan Sailors had become by age 36 was a shadow of the person he could have been, the urge for intoxication from huffing aerosol cans of computer duster supplanting the drive he had once shown in basketball and soccer.
    “He was always the best in athletics,” said another sister, Regan Ioerger. “He had tons of friends. He was the funny one, and very sensitive.”
    That sensitivity manifested itself in an acute awareness of his appearance, Stephanie Sailors added.
    “He cared too much about what people thought of him,” she said.
    His sensitive nature also came into play when his father — Larry Sailors, a golf professional who once played on the PGA Tour and with whom Ryan Sailors shared a middle name, Dennis — received the cancer diagnosis. He died Nov. 18, 2009.
    Since then, Ryan Sailors’ life descended into a self-perpetuating rhythm of depression and addiction, the sisters said. His criminal record, mostly populated by arrests related to inhalant intoxication or theft of his drug of choice from store shelves, kept him from gaining employment that may have helped him escape the cycle.
    Ryan Sailors stayed with his mother in East Peoria, but would disappear for a few days at a time. Stephanie Sailors became accustomed to searching for her brother on jail websites if he was gone for longer durations.
    Page 2 of 2 - His haunts — isolated areas near commercial shopping centers where commonly abused inhalants are sold — became known to authorities, who often would find him disoriented, dehydrated and in need of medical attention.
    Ryan Sailors last was discovered in that condition July 21 and sent to an emergency room in Peoria for treatment, Stephanie Sailors said. No family members saw him after his release, though his mother noticed he had been home the next day.
    Ryan Sailors changed clothes and rode away on a relative’s bicycle. He didn’t return. In a way, the disappearance fits his personality, his sister said.
    “He would never want to hurt anybody at all,” Stephanie Sailors said. “It was just his depression. It’s serious. It doesn’t just go away.”
     

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