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Georgia model vanishes, body found with organs missing

A model from Atlanta takes a trip to L.A. While driving back to Las Vegas, his rental car breaks down in Death Valley. Highway patrol spots him and brings him to a gas station. While waiting for his friend, he vanishes.
Local model Ryan Singleton's death remains a mystery.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published earlier this year. It is part of our "Year in Review" section. If you are viewing this in our app, click this link to see full story.

What happened to Ryan?

It was in the dead heat of Summer, July 2013. Ryan Singleton, a model from Atlanta, flew to Los Angeles for a weekend trip, but never made it home.

Ryan rented a car to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Nearly an two and a half hours into the five-hour drive, the car broke down in Death Valley.

California Highway Patrol spotted him walking along the highway, picked him up and drove him to the nearest gas station in Baker, California. While waiting for his friend from Los Angeles to pick him up, he vanished.

His body was found 74 days later, nearly two miles away from the gas station, without his organs.

►RELATED: Mother of model whose body was found without organs still seeks answers

Rising Star

“I’m glad that he did go. He took the courage and he went. He was brave. Ryan was never afraid to try anything. He was never afraid. Most things he tried, he mastered," said Iris Flowers.

Iris remembers her son’s journey to stardom. At 21 years old, Ryan left his mother's home in Georgia for New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a model. With her son being miles away for the first time, she was as nervous as any parent would be. Iris followed her son on social media to keep up with his latest ventures. She remembers the day she felt all his hard work wasn't in vain. He landed a spot on the runway during New York's Fashion Week.

“Of course I’m at home worrying, but eventually I saw it on Facebook where he was walking down the runway Fashion Week with a pair of gold shorts on. I’m like, alright, he is doing what he wants to do," she said.

PHOTOS | Ryan’s modeling career

Soon Ryan set his eyes on Hollywood.

He aspired to become an actor and pursue film production. He and a group of friends packed their belongings in a U-Haul truck and left New York for Los Angeles. They documented their cross country journey.

“A lot of things that happened on that trip, he recorded it. A lot of his production team members have a lot of their lives together recorded. So, soon people will be able to see that,” Iris said.

The film, currently in the works, is a docuseries called, “Are We famous Yet?” Ryan's three friends, now filmmakers, are telling Ryan's story in hopes to find the truth behind his death. They share the process of making this True Crime docuseries on Facebook and Instagram.

Ryan eventually decided to leave his production team in Los Angeles and head back to New York. He married celebrity stylist Kythe Brewster. Flowers found out about her son's nuptials on Facebook.

“I find out on social media Ryan has gotten married to a man twice his age. I don’t even know who this is. I don’t even have a clue as to what’s going on. It was a total shock," she said.

PHOTOS | Ryan marries celebrity stylist Kythe Brewster

Just four months later, Ryan and Kythe separated. Ryan moved back in with his mother in Georgia who sensed something was wrong. Iris remembered a conversation she had with her son:

“Something bad is going to happen to me isn’t it?” Ryan asked his mother.

"Ryan, what are you talking about?" she responded.

Iris asked her son if he owed someone money and he said no.

"I've done a lot of things to hurt a lot of people," Ryan replied.

Iris said she never found out exactly what Ryan was talking about.

"I don't know if he felt some kind of way because he left the (production) team, married Kythe and it didn't work out with Kythe and now he's home. He knew he hurt me by disappearing and not communicating with me. Anybody outside of that, I couldn't figure out who it could be," she told 11Alive.

Two days later Ryan abruptly left for Los Angeles again. This was the last time Iris saw her son alive.

PHOTOS | Ryan with his family

Ryan goes missing. A timeline of events:

June 2010 – Leaves home in Georgia for New York to become a model. He later heads to Los Angles to pursue film production.

December 2012 – Leaves production crew in Los Angeles, returns to New York and marries Kythe Brewster - a celebrity stylist.

April 2013 - July 2013 – Returns to Atlanta, separates from husband.

July 2013 – Tells mom he is going to Las Vegas to try out for football team. (She said she later realized that wasn't the case.)

July 9, 2013 – Ryan calls his mother in the morning asking her to send him $100 via Western Union to Nevada.

July 9, 2013 - Mom receives call from Kythe, Ryan’s estranged husband. Mother tells Kythe that Ryan is on the West Coast. Kythe tells mother that Ryan called him and it seemed he had been drinking. Kythe tells Iris that Ryan’s life could be in danger.

July 9, 2013 – Mother speaks with Barstow Co. Detective who told her Ryan was seen walking down the highway at 2 p.m. by CA Hwy Patrol. Ryan tells deputies his car broke down. Deputies took Ryan to look for the car but couldn’t locate it. Deputies took Ryan to the closest town, Baker, CA where they dropped him off at convenience store. Deputies said Ryan made a purchase, walks out of store and vanishes.

July 10, 2013 – Ryan's car is found in Barstow County a few miles north of where deputies and Ryan initially searched for the car.

July 11, 2013 – The case was assigned to another detective who informed the Iris that her son was receiving money from multiple people.

Sept. 21, 2013 – Ryan’s body is found by two joggers/hikers with his organs missing about two miles from the convenience store where he was last seen. This is within the 5 miles radius that authorities intensively searched.

The autopsy report lists the cause and manner of death as undetermined.

READ | Ryan's autopsy report (.pdf document)

WATCH | Vinnie evaluates the autopsy report with investigators Charles Mittelstadt (Twitter: @defensemind) and Joseph Scott Morgan, Jacksonville State University Center for Applied Forensics.

Were Ryan's organs sold on the black market? 

"The truth. The answers. The justice. The accountability of what happened to my child really," Iris said.

Watch | Ryan’s mom tells us what she thinks happened to her son.

Iris said she hasn't been able to afford an attorney. Ryan Singleton's case remains an open death investigation in the state of California.

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