Ashley Okland
(Courtesy West Des Moines Police Department)

Ashley Okland


Ashley Okland
27 YOA
558 Stone Creek Court
West Des Moines, IA
Dallas County
April 8, 2011


Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Ashley Okland, a 27-year-old Iowa Realty agent, was shot twice and killed shortly before 2 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2011, while working inside a West Des Moines model townhouse.

A Rottlund Homes employee heard a commotion inside the model townhouse at 558 Stone Creek Court — part of the Stone Creek Villas subdivision near 84th St. and E.P. True Parkway in Des Moines developed by Rottlund Homes — and went to investigate. Inside, the worker discovered Okland on the floor and called 911.

Medics rushed Okland to the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, where she later died.

“This is a grief being felt very deeply not only in the Iowa Realty family but the real estate family as a whole.”

~ Brennan Buckley, Iowa Realty spokesman

Iowa Realty chief executive Mike Knapp had all the company’s agents notified, asking them to shut down operations and cancel weekend open houses until they knew more about the shooting. The company offered grief counseling to Okland’s coworkers while making plans to reach out to her family.

West Des Moines police — who’ve said they have no suspects in the young woman’s murder — do not believe the killing was a random act.

“There is no reason to believe this is anything but an isolated incident,” West Des Moines police spokesman Lt. James Barrett said in an interview with the Des Moines Register published April 8, 2011. “However, investigators are still trying to determine a motive and possible suspects in the shooting.”

The Stone Creek Villas development area consists of about 70 one-year-old units on West Des Moines’ Dallas County side, about 1-1/2 miles from Jordan Creek Town Center.

National Attention, No Leads

CBS News featured Okland’s case on the company’s Crimesider website in late April. The blog/website focuses on true crime stories and is regularly updated by producers of CBS’s TV show “48 Hours.”

Ashley Okland, CBS NewsCourtesy photo CBS News
Ashley Okland, left. CBS News featured Okland’s case on the company’s Crimesider website, which focuses on true crime stories and is regularly updated by producers of CBS’s TV show “48 Hours.”

Hundreds of calls have poured in to the Polk County Crime Stoppers tip line — many of the callers providing the same two or three names and information about a black SUV, possibly a Cadillac Escalade — that was spotted near the model home where Okland had been working.

The calls have remained mostly anonymous, with callers given random report numbers to use whenever they call back.

Two weeks after Okland’s murder, Bill Corwin of “A Tech Security” reported a 30 percent increase in business.

“Anytime something is unknown it challenges people’s security,” Corwin told KCCI-TV in an April 18 interview.

West Des Moines Police spokesman Lt. Jim Barrett in September 2011 told KCCI they’d had over 600 leads, talked to 400 people and had 200 Crime Stoppers tips. Despite all leads, Barrett said, police still didn’t have a suspect.

One year after Okland’s murder, Barrett said investigators had followed up on more than 700 leads and have more than 550 names in a database related to the case. Police have executed a number of search warrants.

Deb Cochran, Ashley Okland's mother

Deb Cochran (Courtesy KCCI)

Polk County Crime Stoppers initially offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, and the reward quickly jumped to $66,785, then to $75,000, and as of Jan. 4, 2012 was at $80,000. On April 2, Barrett announced the reward had reached $150,000.

It is the largest Polk County Crime Stoppers reward ever created.

Okland’s mother, Deb Cochran, told KCCI on May 19, 2011, she believes there are some clues.

“I think she knew the person, because there was no struggle,” Cochran said. “I’m sure she looked up, gave a big smile and probably that was it.”

The family also told KCCI that Okland sent a text message to a friend less than five minutes before she died; it was not a plea for help.

Josh Okland, Ashley's brother

Josh Okland (Courtesy KCCI)

“Ashley trusted everybody. She was always so positive,” said Okland’s brother, Josh Okland. “It wouldn’t cross her mind to think that someone was not there just to do business.”

In a Jan. 1, 2012 Des Moines Register article, Ashley’s younger sister, Brittany Okland, encouraged anyone with information to contact investigators. “Even something little could end up being something big,” she told the Register.

Cochran said in the same interview she prays every day for justice for her daughter.

The Ashley Okland Star Playground Project

From ( On Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, the Iowa Association of Realtors donated $100,000 to the Ashley Okland Star Playground Project.

“Ashley had an amazing gift for making people feel special, welcomed, and included. This is representative of the way Ashley lived; including and welcoming others, and most importantly making sure everyone was having fun! The playground is an awesome way to keep her positive attitude alive and with us all,” said Jen Stanbrough, Okland’s friend, during the press conference held to announce the donation.

Okland was found dead during a 2011 open house at a townhome project in West Des Moines. No one has yet been charged in her death.

Concept of Ashley Okland Playground (Courtesy KCCI)

Concept of Ashley Okland Playground (Courtesy KCCI)

Variety — The Children’s Charity of Iowa is working on the playground project, which will be the first in the metro to provide play opportunities for children with special needs.

The Association said it and its members have together raised a significant amount of money for the project.

A fundraising campaign by Variety for the project was launched with the hope of raising $500,000.

The playground is planned in Des Moines’ Ewing Park. A groundbreaking was held Monday, May 5, 2014.

Learn more about the project and how to donate at

Other Updates:

An Oct. 1, 2014 KCRG-TV9 story said authorities in West Des Moines were planning to check with investigators in Arkansas to see if there was any connection between Okland’s murder and that of 49-year-old Beverly Carter, a Little Rock, Arkansas realtor who was killed after setting up an appointment to show an empty home.

Carter was reported missing Sept. 25, 2014, and the Pulaski (Ark.) County Sheriff’s Office said her body was found Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 in a shallow grave.

A Des Moines Register article by Christopher Pratt republished at on Oct. 1, 2014, said of Carter’s murder:

Authorities in Arkansas have arrested parolee Arron Michael Lewis, 33, of Jacksonville, Ark., and charged him with capital murder in connection with the case. Police accuse Lewis of setting up an appointment with Carter to view a vacant house in a rural area near Little Rock then killing her a burying her body on the grounds of a concrete company where he once worked.

Officials had not yet stated how Carter died or what they had linking Lewis to the crime.

West Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Ken O’Brien said police want to know where Lewis was in April 2011 when Ashley Okland was killed.

About Ashley: A Beautiful Girl — Inside and Out

Ashley Okland was born December 30, 1983 in Ames, Iowa. She grew up in Kelley and was involved in sports, dance, 4-H, and piano. She attended Ballard High School, graduating in the top three percent of the 2002 class. After two years at the University of Northern Iowa she transferred to Iowa State University with dreams of becoming a physical therapist, and graduated in 2006 with a degree in exercise science.

Model home where Ashley Okland killedCourtesy photo Bill Neibergall/The Des Moines Register
Flags fluttered on April 9 at the model home where Ashley Okland was shot. There is a $150,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in her unsolved murder.

After graduation, however, the lure of real estate quickly turned into a passion, and she began working for the real estate company, JDR Group, in 2007. She worked at Century 21 before joining Iowa Realty in 2010.

A transplanted country girl at heart, she lived happily in West Des Moines with her “Hun” Eric and new pup, Indi. Above all else, Ashley loved spending time with her family and friends. Always on the go, her biggest struggle was finding the time to make everyone feel as special as she thought they should.

Okland donated her free time and efforts to charity and was active in both social and professional organizations. She regularly donated to the Bill Reichardt Clothes Closet — an organization named after a late Des Moines clothier that provided free clothing to young professionals beginning their careers — and also volunteered at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa.

A member of the Young Professionals Connection, Okland served as the group’s sports chair and helped organize the 2010 Golden Circle Games.

“She could handle herself professionally and still bring a lot of fun and positive energy into any room she was in, and I always appreciated that,” the organization’s president, Jason Wells, said in an April 8 Register story. Wells had purchased his Stone Creek Village home with Okland’s help.

Always the event planner, Okland enjoyed traveling, concerts, golfing, exercising, and just being busy. Those who knew her remembered Ashley as ambitious and upbeat with a giving nature — a beautiful girl inside and out.

Visitation was held Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at Fjeldberg Lutheran Church in Huxley, Iowa, from 4 to 8 p.m. More than 1,600 people attended the Celebration of Life ceremony on Thursday at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines.

“What happened to Ashley Okland is evil. It was evil. And there’s no other way to say it,” Rev. Mike Housholder told mourners during the service. “There’s nothing righteous about it. There’s no moral in it. It was evil.”

Ashley Okland gravestoneCourtesy photo Tom Stanley,
Ashley Okland is buried in Huxley at the Fjeldberg Cemetery in Story County.

Housholder said the verdict was in, and that in the end, justice would be done and grace offered to those who mourned.

“For all of you — don’t let her die in vain,” he said. “Learn what she learned in life. It’s about the things that last — love, joy and peace.”

Ashley was buried in Huxley at the Fjeldberg Cemetery in Story County.

Ashley’s survivors included the love of her life, Eric Grubb (WDM), a sister, Brittany Okland (Minneapolis), a brother, Josh Okland (Ames), father, Tim Okland (Kelley), mother, Deb Cochran (Huxley), grandmother, Margaret Okland (Huxley), grandmother, Marilyn Gregg (Clarion), 10 loving aunts and uncles, and 33 cousins.

Ashley’s grandfathers, Kenneth Okland and Charlie Gregg, preceded her in death.

How You Can Help

Police are asking anyone with information about Okland’s murder to contact the West Des Moines Police Department at 515-222-3344 or Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400. You may also text “PCCS plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) or provide a tip online.

Tips through Crime Stoppers can be made anonymously.

Sources and References:


Copyright © 2024 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


39 Responses to Ashley Okland

  1. Justice says:

    Why do you think it’s him?

  2. Christine says:

    There is a tictok about Lindsay Buziak from British Columbia Canda with many similarities, down to thier hairstyle and blonde streaks and similar facial features, being described as vibrant, successful and cheerful, age, jobs, etc. There was a cell phone purchased and used only to call Lindsay once, registered to a man’s name, Paulo Rodriguez. But a blonde woman was with a man and Lindsay was found stabbed multiple times in the master bedroom of the home she was showing them, she also had no defensive wounds. I can’t help but wonder if they are connected. They have so many similarities in personality and physically that it seems like a serial killer. Just wanted to put this out there for investigators to check if there’s a connection. The tictok mentions Ashley Oakland’s case. 😟 my condolences to both families.

    • Cody says:

      They aren’t at all connected. Lindsay’s murder (most probable theory) had a personal motive involved which wouldn’t at all include Ms.Okland.

  3. George Duggan says:

    Does anyone know whether there was any eminent domain actions taken for this parcel of land before the townhouses were built?

  4. Bill Entrikin says:

    Ashley was murdered in Dallas County, not Polk County. Please correct this error.

    • Bill Entrikin says:

      I want to add this was probably a two-tap hit, meaning it was a professional job. Chest, then head. This does not suggest stalker or a random act of violence. If someone close to her was involved, the murder would have been much more messy. Ashley was probably targeted because of the company she worked for, and that should be the focus of the investigation.

      I believe the killer wanted to stoke fear into realtors working for the company and/or realtors working in the same area. The instant reaction by the company to protect its employees suggests that someone within the company knew the reason for this senseless crime

      Real estate deals gone bad can motivate a crazy bastard to commit a horrible crime like this. Focus on motive law enforcement, and you will solve this crime.

  5. bob irrumatio says:

    IIRC, at the time of the murder, a black escalade had been seen in the area, an older associate of hers drove a similar vehicle and was cleared with all the speed of someone with a connected employer, he later committed suicide, can’t recall the details, but I believe they were good friends, I wondered if the wife was a little nuts, saw an affair and shot her, and the husband covered it up and finally couldn’t deal with it and killed himself.

  6. Chris says:

    Maybe Martha did it???

    • Patrick Kerrigan says:

      I wonder what the protocol was for showing the model home. I would like to think that you called and asked when you could visit, or did you just show up and walked in.

      Also, was it normal for some from the realtor to be working in the model home. Was, there someone there every day, or just on Friday, leading into the weekend.

      Was, the door locked or unlocked when someone from the realtor was working. Also, did she let the offender in. Was, there any fingerprints anywhere on the home.

      • Martha Dodd-Slippy says:

        Realtor is always spelled with a capital R. Martha has never been to Iowa. All the questions are valid, however model homes are consistently left unlocked if an agent is on the premise. All Realtors are real estate agents or brokers, however, not all real estate agents or brokers are Realtors. Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors as well as the state and local associations, and has A Code of Conduct with very specific standards, just a bit more info you may not have in your repertoire. Martha is the author of the upcoming book, possibly completed in November, To Real Estate Agents and Brokers — Homicide and Other Subjects You Slept Through In Class. Be advised the number one cause of death of an agent on the job is homicide. Respectfully, Martha – a Realtor and licensed Broker in VA and NC.

  7. Martha Dodd-Slippy says:

    Reading through the information, had I been Eric or Chris, I would have recommended meeting with the Investigator at the police department. What if Chris or Eric were the perpetrator? Anything is possible, and there has not been any other communication regarding this since February 10, 2018. Does anyone know if there has been an arrest? I am writing a book for Agents and Brokers – Homicide and other sujects you slept through in class. Homicide is the number one cause of death for agents on the job. Martha

  8. Hawkeye says:

    Apparently there is a rumor that people have speculated they know who did this. I heard this from someone who knows the family and grew up around them. I asked if that person was alive and he said very much so. He would not tell me a name.

  9. Nando Fernández says:

    Willy, this is Tracy’s source:

    If she was shot just entering the house, the only chance that the murder was someone she knew would be that he could know in advance that she was going to that house that day, and alone. So the really important question is who could have that information. If nobody, then Ashley was not the target.

    • Chris Covington says:

      She wasn’t shot just entering the house. Plus, a coworker would possibly know she was going to be there.. and I believe the culprit was a coworker….

  10. Tracy says:

    ““I think she knew the person, because there was no struggle,” Cochran said. “I’m sure she looked up, gave a big smile and probably that was it.””

    There’s really no doubt about that. If her murder is ever solved, her family and friends will probably be shocked to find out who it was. I know a man was supposedly spotted but is it possible this is a red herring? It’s amazing how few clues there are in this case.

    Back when this happened, a friend and I both believed she was murdered by a jealous friend. She’s successful, beautiful, and looks very happy in her pictures. I can imagine someone close to her being envious of her life.

    “The family also told KCCI that Okland sent a text message to a friend less than five minutes before she died; it was not a plea for help.”

    Creepy. Her killer is already there, probably just hanging out having a chat while she’s oblivious to the fact she’s about to be murdered. I assume that text offered no clue as to what was going on.

    I feel really sorry for her. She was obviously blind sided….a blitz attack but with a gun. She didn’t have a chance.

    Her killer was bold. In the afternoon when anyone could’ve been outside or even walked in. Shot her in the head and chest…guaranteeing she doesn’t get out alive.

    Any details of the “commotion” heard by the witness ever released?

    • Chris Covington says:


    • Willy says:

      Tracy, curious to know how you know she was shot in the head and chest….. those details weren’t released to the public……. and you really think the police would release information about the commotion that the neighbor had heard? Hmmmmmm

      • Chris Covington says:

        I believe it has been released that she was shot in the head and chest. I’d definitely heard that just after it happened.

  11. Rebecca Goodman says:

    I wonder if the family have contacted the Vidocq Society??

  12. Thessa Dawson says:

    I cannot believe this happened. I cannot believe there has been no suspect named, no justice. So sad.

  13. I pray for justice and someone to come forward. I’m so sorry. I’m dealing with the same thing.

  14. Kelli says:

    She was so beautiful, it just blows my mind! It was a shame that some sick person had to do this terrible thing. Hopefully it will come to justice eventually.

  15. Rhonda says:

    oh geez why does it always have to be about black people or white people who cares about a race? Any person that is murdered it is sad regardless who they are what they are. get over it people. i hate it when people say well if they were black…this and that. WHATEVER!!!

  16. Roy Phillips says:

    Cora, unsolved murders do matter to the people of Iowa. I being one of them. However, the majority of us do not have the training, special rights, money, or protection (among other things) to investigate a stolen bologna sandwich let alone a murder. I don’t care if the person murdered was a prostitute or some hollywood celebrity in Iowa for the weekend. Every case should be investigated as strongly as if it were a family member. Many famous cases remain unsolved even though they were investigated and reinvestigated time and time again. It happens. The lack of funds for DNA testing in Iowa and the United States concerns me greatly. Especially when we seem to have the money to throw away giving oil rich countries like Egypt hundreds’s of millions in free military equipment. That’s just one example of money wasted that could help solve crimes or at least attempt to by paying for DNA tests. There are thousands of rape cases and murder cases sitting on shelves year after year where DNA could make the difference but the money is not there to pay for the tests. Lastly I’ll say knowing something and proving it are completely different animals. Especially legally.

    • Sarah Campbell Williams says:

      Yes… get inside they had to use the door handle. There should have been prints unless there were gloves used. Were the shots heard or was there a silencer.

  17. Josh Bethune says:

    Honestly I believe someone knows something and I think there is some cover ups going on

  18. DJJ says:

    I understand Cora’s feelings that socioeconomic conditions effect whether the police or press take an interest in the homicide. What we are missing is that the number of unsolved homicides is increasing because of a lack of funding at the state and local levels. Another factor is the fear to come forward by witnesses to provide information about the many unsolved cases that are listed on Iowa Cold Cases. Those witnesses need to understand that the act of taking another person of life isn’t a mistake that will never happen again. Often, the offender crosses the same threshold.

  19. Cora Dulas says:

    My heart goes out to miss oaklands family, but people please…there are many people that are murdred in the state of iowa every year. They do not get all this press and attention. How do you think their families feel? It’s as if all those others do not matter, but because Ashley is a white female and because she was dating a Grub, a guy from a very weathy family, she continues to get media attention, while all the others that have unsolved murders seem to not matter at all to the media and the people of iowa. Every persons lifes is valuable and Ashleys murder and death is no more important than anyone eles. If ashley were black or from a low income family we would have never heard about it for more than one night on the news. Please let ashley rest in peace and move on.

    • LakeLife says:

      Why are you making this about race?!
      This is not about your feelings on how “unfair” life is.
      This is about a poor women who was murdered.
      If you TRUELY feel that non white people don’t get the attention they deserve when it comes to their murders then why don’t you go DO something about it like start your OWN page?!

  20. so sad and so many hearts hurting with her death.. and the perpetrator walks among us. I know the feeling so well.

  21. Im a Realtor and this scares me to death. Im so heartbroken for her family. I hope they find this person and bring them to justice to give her family a small sense of peace!

  22. What a great person Ashley was … Please find her killer if anyone knows please come forward for her families sake…….

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