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911 calls indicate man planned suspected murder-suicide

January 24, 2019

When Ryan T. Propes sent an email to family and friends Jan. 17, announcing his plans to commit suicide, their worried calls to the Santa Fe Regional Communication Center grew increasingly frantic.

Propes had sent a lengthy message saying goodbye to many of his loved ones, recordings of the phone calls reveal, and saying he planned to take his life.

According to Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies, he ultimately did. They reported that Propes shot himself after killing his 3-year-old son and a pet dog at his Tesuque-area home.

The audio files, obtained by The New Mexican under a public records request, indicate Propes had planned his actions.

“He sent me an email saying that he killed himself and he killed our 3 1/2-year-old son and that he killed our dog,” the boy’s mother, Cassandra Scott, yelled in a frantic 911 call. “He timed the email to send it to me after the fact!”

The first call indicating trouble came in just before 10 a.m. Thursday, call logs show.

James Ortiz, who owns the upper Pacheco Canyon Road property where Propes lived, told dispatchers he’d received a multipage suicide note from the 33-year-old man.

“I’m very concerned about his well-being,” Ortiz said. “… I can’t reach him.”

On the phone, the dispatcher pressed Ortiz about why he thought the email was a suicide note.

“It goes on about not having accomplished anything in his life, this and that, his wife is destroying his life,” Ortiz responded. “Then he says: ‘It seems that in the end, my last hope for happiness comes in the form of pure virtue, death.’ He’s talking about dying, he’s talking about killing himself.”

Ortiz told the dispatcher he thought Propes had a shotgun and pistols on the remote property off Pacheco Canyon Road.

“I don’t expect him to be aggressive … he’s never been aggressive to anyone else,” Ortiz said. “But he does have weapons.”

The dispatcher reassured Ortiz that he’d sent officers to check on Propes.

More calls kept coming.

Propes’ father, Roger Propes, told dispatchers he had tried to check on his son. The father said he had tried to drive up to Ryan Propes’ home but he couldn’t make it up the road because of ice and snow.

He’d already spoken with a few deputies, he said. “I just want to know what’s going on.”

Scott called repeatedly, her concern escalating with each call.

When the operator asks whether Propes had been going through any hardships recently, Scott tells her: “We’re going through a divorce.”

Propes had missed a court hearing only hours earlier concerning custody and support for their child, her lawyer told The New Mexican.

Scott provided directions to Propes’ home and said she planned to go there herself.

Then, she called again: Ryan Propes had their son, Owen, she told the dispatchers. She was trying to find out where her son was, she said, and had driven to Propes’ father’s home but there was nobody there.

Another call. This time, Scott was hysterical.

“I just got an email that he killed himself already!”

A dispatcher tried to tell her deputies were responding to the scene as fast as they could.

“You have to be faster!” she replied.

But as detectives, dispatchers and Propes’ family later discovered, it was already too late.

Sheriff’s deputies who arrived at Propes’ home found him, 3-year-old Owen and the dog all dead, the sheriff’s office announced in a Friday news release, more than 24 hours after the agency had learned of the deaths.

Further details of the case have yet to be released.

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