Ex-boyfriend found guilty of trying to kill Elburn father and son with natural gas
Frank E. Ryan has been found guilty of two counts of attempted murder for trying to kill two men -- one of them involved with Ryan's ex-girlfriend -- by tampering with a natural gas line and spewing gas into their Elburn home.
Kane County Judge David Kliment pronounced the verdict Tuesday. Ryan, of Waterman, was charged in the Jan. 19, 2020, incident, which happened on the 500 block of Downing Street in Elburn.
"What this matter really comes down to is the intent of the defendant in this case," Kliment said. "... When you do what he did, you do it with only one purpose, and that is to blow up the house."
"I do not believe he ever intended those people sleeping in the house to wake up."
The house belonged to Richard Rittgarn, the new boyfriend of Ryan's ex-girlfriend, now his wife, Kelsey Pranaitis Rittgarn. She was not there that night. The man and his 27-year-old son, Aaron, were in the house sleeping.
Around 2:30 a.m., the smell of gas woke Richard Rittgarn. He heard loud hissing, and when he investigated where it was coming from, he discovered a hole had been drilled through a wall of the house.
A plastic tube had been inserted. The tube was connected to the natural gas line at the meter outside.
Rittgarn blocked the tube with a pen and called firefighters.
Kliment noted that Ryan had bought the tubing, duct tape and a 12-inch drill bit the day before, and used pieces of distinctive lumber to attach the tubing to the gas line.
He said Ryan had also researched natural-gas house explosions and had told detectives he thought that only happens when the gas accumulates for a few days.
Kliment agreed with prosecutors that Ryan tried to construct an alibi for his whereabouts by giving his Fitbit fitness tracker earlier that evening to his father to wear.
"He planned this offense carefully," Kliment said.
Ryan will remain in custody as he awaits sentencing.