THREE YEARS: Police Still Searching For Okland’s Killer

Today marks the three year anniversary of the murder of West Des Moines realtor, Ashley Okland.

Okland was 27-years-old when she was shot to death in broad daylight while showing a townhouse in West Des Moines.

Police aren’t ready to call this a “cold” case as leads are still coming in, but the investigation has slowed down.

Investigators have followed up on 781 leads and interviewed 575 people, yet three years later all that work hasn’t led to an arrest or even a suspect.

“From talking to the investigators working this case, they take this personally. This is important to them,” said Sgt. Ken O’Brien of the West Des Moines Police Department.

Two detectives are assigned to the case, but their workload is starting to dwindle.

Only 15 of the 781 leads have come in in the past year. Still, Sgt. O’Brien remains optimistic. His investigators have been in this situation before.

“We worked a case that started in 1993 and ended in 2000 with the arrest of the offender Donald Piper,” said O’Brien.

Piper was charged with first degree murder back in 2001 after new DNA evidence linked him to a 1993 crime scene at a West Des Moines hotel.

The cases are different, but O’Brien says the process of solving them is similar.

“We’re having others look at the case to make sure we aren’t missing anything. We’re reevaluating evidence. We’re diving deeper into the evidence we currently hold,” O’Brien told Channel 13 News.

While police work towards a big break, other realtors say the tragedy has changed how they do their job.

“I make sure I’m aware of my surroundings when going into a house or showing someone. I have people I don’t know meet me in the office before meeting them at a house,” said Jen Stansbrough, a friend of Ashley’s and realtor at BHHS First Realty Westown.

The tragedy has also changed how Jen Stansbrough donates her time.

She’s joined Variety Club of Iowa, the same organization where Okland volunteered.

The organization is $25,000 dollars away from its goal of raising $500,000 dollars to break ground on the Ashley Okland Star Playground at Ewing Park in Des Moines

“We really wanted to build a tribute that embodied what Ashley was all about. She was all about making people feel welcomed and making people feel included,” Stansbrough told Channel 13 News.

The Ashley Okland Star Playground will be fully accessible to children of all ages and abilities.

Once the money is raised, it will take about two months to build.

To donate to the project, click here or call Variety at 515-243-4660.

West Des Moines Police are also asking for help.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400.

A $150,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.

 

 



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