Op/Ed

Ashley Okland’s murder is now unsolved for sixth year

okland

(EDITORIAL) Ashley Okland’s 2011 murder in West Des Moines is in its 6th unsolved year with no new leads.

Six years later

Six years since she was brutally murdered in a model home in West Des Moines, police are no closer to finding Ashley Okland’s killer. Okland, a 27-year old real estate agent, was found shot twice on April 8, 2011, and later died at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.

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Her death prompted the cancellation of multiple open houses in the Des Moines area immediately after her murder, as initial thoughts were that the murder may have been the work of a serial killer targeting real estate agents.

No leads

While police initially thought that the murder was the work of a “scruffy” man with dark features, thought to have been another area realtor, despite interviewing hundreds of witnesses over the past six years, no one has been arrested or charged for the crime.

West Des Moines police classify the search for Okland’s killer as an active investigation, and a $150,000 reward remains posted for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The American Genius’ Tara Steele reported that in the first two years of the investigation, Lieutenant Jim Barrett of the West Des Moines police had investigated nearly 800 leads, speaking to almost 400 people.

“The fact of where it happened and who it happened to makes the case more difficult,” Barrett said, speaking to Iowa Radio. “From all we know, Ashley Okland was just a good person with no enemies so…that made the case unique in itself.”

Ashley’s legacy

A young professional active in local business circles, Okland made a big impact on those around her, regularly volunteering at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa.

In January 2014, the Iowa Association of Realtors honored her memory by donating $100,000 to fund the Ashley Okland Star Playground Project, the first in the Des Moines area to provide opportunities for children with special needs to have the ability to play alongside non-differently abled peers.

At the press conference to introduce the park, Jen Stanbrough, a friend of Okland, said, “Ashley had an amazing gift for making people feel special, welcomed, and included…The playground is an awesome way to keep her positive attitude alive and with us all.

Anyone with information concerning the murder of Okland is asked to call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at polkcountycrimestoppers.org or by texting “PCCS” and a message to CRIMES (274637).

#CrimeStoppers

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