West Des Moines joins ranks of cities suffering REALTOR violence

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Concepts

The Des Moines area and no doubt the nation was shocked to hear the news that today, Friday April 8th at 2pm a real estate agent, Ashley Okland was shot while holding open a townhome project in West Des Moines. The news was especially upsetting because the young woman was only 27 and West Des Moines is generally considered by many measures to be one of the safest areas of the metro and probably ranks high nationally for its low rate of violent crime. Additionally we are a fairly small board and a close knit community where most agents know each other as there are only around 1300 agents on our entire MLS. We've heard news of Realtors in other localities killed or harmed while showing houses or holding opens around the nation and we talk about safety and the possibility of things like this happening but I think that does little to blunt the disbelief, sorrow and outrage that we in the community feel this evening.

Initially the reports were that the agent had been shot twice but was alive, tragically the news came later in the afternoon that the young agent with Iowa Realty had succumbed to her injuries around 3pm. READ LOCAL NEWS STORY HERE

No suspects have been identified but police hinted that it may not have been a random incident and are urging calm. Iowa Realty put out a press release expressing shock and sorrow and announced it would cancel all open house scheduled for the weekend.

From her photo Ashley appears the picture of youthful enthusiasm and happiness, a beautiful young woman with a bright and prosperous future ahead of her. Eventually, we'll likely find out what motivated the misguided soul who took her life, but we will forever be left with the tragedy of a life and career cut short by violence.

Many agents have taken to Facebook to post messages of condolence, fear, incredulity, sympathy and sorrow. The posts run a gamut of emotions and reflect the frustration, consternation and distress we in the local real estate community are feeling today.

I did not know Ashley personally but I'd like to express my condolences to her family, friends and coworkers for their loss. It's a sad night here in Des Moines. We've lost somebody, and we all feel it.

***Please Help if you have information regarding the shooting death of Realtor Ashley Oakland. Polk County Crime Stoppers has upped the reward amount to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anonymous tips can be made to 223-1400 or by calling West Des Moines police at 222-3344.***


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  1. Larry Costa 04/13/2011 04:44 AM
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Matt, what a tragedy... What a heinous crime. Who could have raise a hand on a young woman? Hope Police would find the killer.

Just terrible

Apr 08, 2011 08:48 PM #1
Mark Nehs
Mortgage Loan Officer Waukesha Wisconsin - Pewaukee, WI

This is horrible.  My best to her family and friends.

Apr 09, 2011 04:05 PM #2
Matt Grohe
RE/MAX Concepts - Des Moines, IA
Serving the metro since 2003

No suspects or leads yet that have been released. So tragic.

Apr 09, 2011 04:51 PM #3
Dee Mayers
Covina, CA
San Gabriel Valley, CA

We all face decisions in life, some great, some small.  Choosing to take another person's life is a decision the murderer will regret. Life is a precious gift and no one has the right to take it away.

I hope Ashley's family have the support needed at this time.  The presence of  friends and Ashley's colleagues even if they don't know what to say, will be a strengthening aid to them.

Apr 11, 2011 10:42 AM #4
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

What a beautiful young woman. It is just so senseless and tragic. We all need to be careful. My thoughts go out to her family.

Apr 11, 2011 12:23 PM #5
Mindy Huls
EXIT Realty Hawkeye - Grinnell, IA
Broker/Owner EXIT Realty Hawkeye

Very, very sad all of their lives have been horribly changed forever, my prayers to  go out to all of you.

Apr 11, 2011 12:39 PM #6
Matt Grohe
RE/MAX Concepts - Des Moines, IA
Serving the metro since 2003

Dee: Well said. Ashley left behind a father & mother, grnadmother, a sister and a brother and many raving fans. People loved her.

Shannon: As you can imagine there has been a big focus on agent safety here today. It's a message we need to take to heart because this kind of thing can happen anywhere. The area where the incident occured is well populated, there were people all around and the city has a very efficient and ubiquitous police presence, plus there are a lot of cameras around, but still it happened. Be safe everyone.

Mindy: Thank you. We're all in total shock. Ashley is on everyones mind, everyone is talking about her, everyone feels a great sense of frustration an incredulity.

Apr 11, 2011 05:08 PM #7
Emily Medvec Qualifying Broker
Hello Realty Partners - Santa Fe, NM
Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Matt - Thank you for the update about this horrible tragedy. I first learned of this early today in a post by Margaret Rome. Before 6 AM I had sent news of the story to our local association, CRS and WCR chapters and our state association. The best ounce of prevention is to tell this story. Keep us posted.

Apr 12, 2011 01:17 PM #8
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Thanks for keeping us informed, Matt. Safety is often an afterthought for Realtors and we need to take it more seriously.

Apr 12, 2011 04:14 PM #9
Matt Grohe
RE/MAX Concepts - Des Moines, IA
Serving the metro since 2003

Emily: Thank you for posting. If one person can avoid tragedy as a result that's a blessing.

Maria: Unfortunately, it takes the worst kind of incident to bring us to do what we should have been doing all along.

Apr 12, 2011 05:29 PM #10
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ... - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Matt -

While a shocked Realtor community all across the nation grieves for this lovely young woman, one can only hope that in her memory, safety precautions will be strengthened.

We all hope her family will pull through this terrible time in unity.


Apr 12, 2011 06:02 PM #11
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY

My hearts breaks for these people. I can't imagine, as a broker, thinking that I gave a lead to one of my agents where they'd be killed or have any of my agents harmed. It isn't fair, and I can only imagine the community's shock and horror. 

Apr 12, 2011 07:11 PM #12
Larry Costa
Century 21 Classic Gold, Carver MA - Carver, MA
Realtor, Carver MA Real Estate

I remember years back a Realtor being attacked at a vacant home in MA. The board sent out warnings and everyone became very careful, calling in, telling us where they would be and even having someone else go with them on the showing. It seems now that years have gone by, no one has been practicing these safety measures anymore. It's time for a refresher.

Apr 13, 2011 04:37 AM #13
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Matt, this is just so hard to believe. My heart goes out to Ashley's family and friends and the entire community during this time. I do hope they catch whoever did this.


Apr 13, 2011 12:55 PM #14
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

Matt, what a sad story. I hope this is a lesson for all of us to make sure we protect ourselves from something like this ever happening.

Apr 18, 2011 04:47 PM #15
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Matt, what a tragic and senseless loss of life.  I hope the perpetrator(s) can be brought to justice quickly. 

Apr 25, 2011 12:13 PM #16
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

We have to always be safe out there-ALWAYS. Soo sorry to hear this Matt. Hope they catch the person who did this. My condolences to the family. Great post.

May 01, 2011 02:24 PM #17
Ken Barker Realtor® GRI, E-Pro Certified
Dilbeck Real Estate - Burbank, CA

Matt - This is so sad. I did not hear of this but I am on the West Coast. It is sad that we have to put up our defenses and be careful at even showing homes let alone the Open Houses we do.

May 16, 2011 04:29 PM #18
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Matt Grohe

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