Michael W. Ryan (born 3 August 1948) was an American white supremacist, and murderer.

Ryan was the leader of a small, anti-government and group that occupied a compound near Rulo, Nebraska, in the early 1980s. Ryan and his group of followers had loose ties to Posse Comitatus, and links to the Christian Identity movement. Ryan's teachings included the supremacy of the white race, the inherent evil of Jews (antisemitism) and a distrust of all established earthly authority, including governments. Ryan and his followers carried out months of burglary, under cover of night. Reselling the items obtained by theft, they supported the activities of the group and built up weapons and supplies they believed would be needed for the imminent battle of Armageddon, which they assumed would occur in the form of a race war. Ryan was arrested in 1982 after reports, and a criminal investigation indicated that he had abused and killed 5 year old Luke Stice, and later killed fellow member James Thimm, after he had tortured him for several days, beating him, forcing him to have sex with a goat, then skinning him alive and raping him with a shovel before finally beating him to death.

Ryan was tried, convicted and sentenced to death on 12 September 1985. Ryan claims to have been in direct contact with God and vowed to spend his days in prison rewriting the Bible, but since has recanted on both. Ryan is currently held in Tecumseh State Correctional Institution on death row.The Nebraska Supreme Court has set a March 6,2012 execution date for Ryan

Arm test

Every detail of every activity conducted by Ryan was determined by consulting "Yahweh" through a method called the "arm test." To perform the arm test, one group member would hold his or her right arm out, and a second group member would place one hand on the shoulder and one hand on the wrist of the first group member, exerting downward pressure on the arm. The second group member would then question "Yahweh." If "Yahweh's" answer was yes, the arm stayed up; if the answer was no, the arm would yield to the pressure and fall. Group members were permitted to use the arm test only with Ryan's permission.