VICTIM REMEMBERED: Ashley Okland On Minds Of Many

The only thing that made sense out of a crime so terrible and unexpected is the way people reacted to it.

“I remember the day it happened. It was tragic, it was shock,” said Mike Banasiak, Past President of Young Professionals Connection.

Banasiak knew Ashley Okland through the Young Professionals Connection.

He says she liked to work hard, have fun, and give back.

“Ashley was a huge part of this organization as well as many others,” Banasiak told Channel 13 News.

“She will always be a cherished part of our family here at Big Brothers/Big Sisters,” said Kit Curran, CEO of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Iowa.

Curran says Ashley played an important role in the organization.

Since her death, volunteers have raised money in Ashley’s name at the annual fundraiser called “Bowl 4 Kid’s Sake”.

She was also recognized at a recent Iowa Cubs game attended by several “bigs” and “littles” in her honor.

“She was in our school based program, and had a strong relationship with her little sister,” said Curran.

Curran says it’s frustrating to know Ashley’s killer is still out there, but Ashley isn’t the only victim without justice.

Polk County Crime Stoppers shows several unsolved homicides in the metro.

Unsolved murders aren’t uncommon.  More than 1/3 of US homicide cases remain open.

The number is lower in central Iowa, but that doesn’t make it easier for all the people looking for closure.

“Some that knew her well are just angry at the whole situation,” said Curran.

Until justice is served, those who knew her will keep honoring her.

The Young Professionals Connection will honor people who donate their time and talents with the Ashley Okland Community Service Award.

“They are honored to be considered as passionate of a volunteer as Ashley was,” said Banasiak.