Ryan Lowery

Independent Journalist

About Ryan

Ryan Lowery is an award-winning independent journalist whose work has been published by the Associated Press, Santa Fe Reporter, Santa Fe New Mexican, Idaho Business Review, and many others. He also regularly covers crime, criminal justice and investigative stories for the Las Vegas Optic.

Investigative & Enterprise Stories by Ryan

Who killed Shana?: Family members still seek answers, justice a year after her body was found
Published May 6, 2021
Las Vegas Optic

It’s been one year since Shana’s body was recovered, and to date, no one has been arrested or charged in her death. Family members reported Shana missing on Jan. 18, 2020. On May 6, 2020, two city enforcement service specialists made a gruesome discovery: Shana’s badly decaying body hidden beneath the floorboards of a vacant building on the city’s west side — her head covered with a plastic bag; her body wrapped in a tarp and blanket, secured with wire. For 12 months, her family has been trying to get updates on the investigation from the Las Vegas Police Department, but few details have been provided.

Delayed Discovery: Police received reports of hidden body months before recovery
Published June 25, 2020
Las Vegas Optic

The body of a missing woman was found under the floorboards of a Las Vegas, New Mexico, home in May, but that wasn’t the first time police visited the property. It wasn’t even the first time police responded to reports of a body on the property. 

In The Dark: Las Vegas Police keep death investigation details from family, public
Published Sept. 1, 2020
Las Vegas Optic

Fifteen weeks after Shana Storey was reported missing, city code enforcement officers discovered her badly-decomposed body under the floor of a home on Romero Street. The discovery wasn’t a complete shock, however, especially not to Storey’s family who’d been told by several people that her body was in the house, under the floor. What was most shocking, according to Katrina Stansbury, one of Storey’s sisters, is that news of the discovery came from an acquaintance on Facebook, not from anyone at the Las Vegas Police Department.

Invoices show LVCS spends tens of thousands responding to records requests
Published March 18,  2021
Las Vegas Optic

In a six-month period, Las Vegas City Schools spent more than $38,000 in legal fees either responding to records requests, researching laws, redacting requests or pushing back against requests and complaints. 

One Way Out: July homicide tied to violent New Mexico prison gang
Published Feb. 14,  2020
Las Vegas Optic

A car horn disrupted the quiet July evening. Then came the gunshots. Three bullets that killed Leroy “Smurf” Lucero, leaving his wife without a husband, and his four children without their father. His violent death also shifted the focus of a nearly five-year-long FBI investigation to Las Vegas.

Sold for Sex: Sex trafficking plagues New Mexico women, but no one’s sure how many
Published March 26,  2019
Santa Fe Reporter

Shane Roach bought 23-year-old Dallas Grassbaugh a meal, then drove her to a motel. Inside a room, he took away her cellphone and ID and told her she now belonged to him. Roach advertised Grassbaugh online, offering sex with her in exchange for money, all of which he kept. One day, he drove her into the desert west of Albuquerque and beat her with a pistol, telling her he would bury her there if she tried to leave or if she disobeyed him. Grassbaugh’s waking nightmare is common, and sex trafficking plagues many New Mexico women; however, because there’s no uniform definition of the crime, a lot of it goes undetected.

Piecing it together: Picture of June homicide takes shape as DA continues investigation
Published Jan. 21,  2020
Las Vegas Optic

Early one June morning, 24-year-old Jordan Sisneros watched 27-year-old Cruz Gallegos die. After he was shot, the gun was turned on gun on her. To date, only one of the several people in that Las Vegas home on June 15, 2019, have been charged.

Decriminalizing Addiction Series
Published Spring  2020
Las Vegas Optic

Many people in America are jailed for crimes driven by addiction, but the southern Colorado town of Alamosa is taking a different approach by focusing on treatment, not jail.

Part 1: Program decriminalizes addiction by emphasizing recovery, not jail
By Ryan Lowery
Published May 21,  2020

Part 2: Arrests decrease under diversion program
By Ryan Lowery
Published May 28,  2020

Part 3: Diversion program thrives on cooperation, embraces skeptics
By Ryan Lowery
Published June 4,  2020

Part 4: Diversion program achieves success by accepting setbacks
By Ryan Lowery
Published June 11,  2020

Smoking Gun: Man ID’d in 2018 deadly shooting remains free
Published Dec. 13,  2019
Las Vegas Optic

Jeromy “Joker” Vasquez was shot and killed in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in January of 2018. Multiple law enforcement agencies say a convicted felon named Albert Herrera is the man who shot Vasquez, and Las Vegas Police know that Herrera tossed the gun out a window of a vehicle. The FBI says Herrera is a felon who was on probation, in part for a firearms violation, and yet, there is no record Herrera was detained, arrested or questioned further.

A Summer of Secrets: Police provide little information on multiple homicides while skirting state law
Published Sept. 13,  2019
Las Vegas Optic

While investigating four homicides and one non-fatal shooting, the Las Vegas Police Department provided the public with very little information on these incidents, and denied multiple open records requests.

Lawsuit alleges Pecos school district ignored child sexual abuses
Published May 11,  2021
Las Vegas Optic

A federal lawsuit accuses the Pecos Independent School District of not doing enough to stop multiple sexual abuses against middle and high school students.

News Features By Ryan

Historic clock returned to downtown Las Vegas, NM
Published Jan. 24,  2021
Albuquerque Journal

Thanks to the hard work of many in the community, an electric clock that has adorned the sidewalk along Douglas Avenue in downtown Las Vegas, NM, since the 1920s has returned.

Public art fosters ‘creative class’ community downtown
Published July 5,  2019
Idaho Business Review

Public art installations add to Boise’s existing, established downtown art scene, but the city’s growing artwork collection gives the public even more reason to spend time in downtown Boise.

Las Vegas, N.M., gas stations offer return to simpler times
Published Aug. 25,  2018
Santa Fe New Mexican

Once ubiquitous, full-service gas stations are rarely seen today, and most drivers expect to do the work of pumping gas themselves. But motorists in one northern New Mexico town can still find the full-service treatment.

Lead ammo concerns New Mexico bird watcher
Published Sept. 5,  2018
Associated Press

Experts say birds of prey are being poisoned by lead left in animal carcasses by bullets. Now some are calling for hunters to use non-lead ammunition to help stop wildlife from being poisoned.