Reagan Tokes: Did the system fail this young woman?
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 10:58 AM
A senseless tragedy I read about this past week evoked memories of an occasion of long ago nearly past recollection. It’s safe to say it’s been years since I gave a single thought about the episode I experienced nearly a quarter of a century ago, probably because it’s something I wanted to forget.
I was a sophomore at Ohio State, living at Drackett Tower off of Lane Avenue. If you’ve ever attended OSU, parking is a major issue. I had a car, but since I lived on campus, I had a “remote” parking pass, meaning I had to park over on west campus a couple of miles away.
On weekends, folks with remote passes could park in C lots (student parking) on main campus.
One weekend night in late 1992, I was getting into my 1984 Ford Thunderbird and was ready to head over to the west campus lots and then catch a shuttle bus back to main campus. As I was starting the engine, a man with a frantic look began tapping on my window. As I said at the top, I don’t recall the entire conversation verbatim, but here’s the gist: The man, who was probably in his 30s and a good bit bigger and stronger than me, was having all sorts of “unfortunate” issues. His wife was pregnant and giving birth, his car was broken down, he didn’t have his wallet, etc., etc., and asked me for help. I let him into my car.
As we started driving, he kept talking and I asked a few questions. It didn’t take long before I began to feel very uncomfortable. His story wasn’t adding up and he seemed to be getting agitated, and started talking about money. I pulled out my wallet, looked inside and told him I only had $20 (or 40 or 50 bucks or whatever it was in there). He replied, “That’ll work,” and I pulled over, handed him the money and he disappeared into the night.
Feeling my heart pounding against my chest, I thought, “How stupid am I?” For a few moments, I regretted handing over the money in my wallet, as I didn’t have a credit or debit card back then, but then I started thinking, “Forget about the cash. This guy could have robbed me … or worse.”
From that moment on, I was a lot more cautious – and tried like heck to forget the whole episode. This past week, I read about the rape and murder of a young woman who was just three months shy of graduating from OSU. The man who authorities think killed her was released from prison just three months ago. According to a criminal complaint filed in Franklin County Municipal Court, Brian Golsby, 29, admitted to kidnapping Reagan Tokes, 21, on Feb. 8, near the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Mt. Pleasant Avenue, as she was walking to her car from work. He forced her to withdraw $60 in cash from her bank account at an ATM. He then drove her to Scioto Grove Metro Park, where she was shot and killed, according to court records. His DNA was recovered from a cigarette butt located in Tokes’ car. Tokes’ body was found at the park.
On Monday, the registered sex offender appeared in court and was charged with aggravated murder, rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and receiving stolen property.
A week before, Reagan Tokes, a psychology major, was excited about graduating. On Feb. 5, she tweeted, “Today my dad emailed me diploma frames and told me to pick one out and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up.”
That was her last tweet. Today, on Feb. 15, her family and friends laid her to rest. Her father, Toby, said his daughter was an ambitious woman who was devoted to her family. In high school, she played on the varsity tennis and lacrosse teams.
“It’s completely a tragedy she was taken from us,” he told The Washington Post.
In a statement on behalf of the family, Reagan Tokes’ uncle, Jeff McCrary said, “We will always remember Reagan as a vibrant, loving young woman who embraced life. She made a positive impact on people, was enthusiastic about everything and brought laughter and joy to all who knew her.”
Reagan Tokes’ sister, Makenzie, wrote, “My beautiful sister was loving to people from all walks of life. … I can’t imagine the fear she faced in her last hours. She deserves justice.”
She does, indeed. However, it might not be unfair to say the justice system failed Reagan Tokes. In 2010, it was reported that Golsby was charged with one count of rape, two counts of aggravated robbery and three counts of kidnapping. WBNS-10TV reported that Grove City Police said Golsby pulled a knife on a woman in the parking lot of an apartment complex and raped her in front of her 2-year-old son. According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Golsby was convicted of attempted rape and robbery and sentenced to six years in prison on each count (to run concurrently, not consecutively) in May 2011.
It doesn’t take a math major to figure out it hasn’t been six years since May 2011, but Golsby was credited with 192 days of jail time and was released on Nov. 13, 2016.
Several questions come to mind.
Plea deals happen all the time, but if Reagan Tokes were my daughter, sister, relative or friend, I’d be asking why Golsby was even on the streets. Why was the 2010 rape charge reduced? Why was the aggravated robbery charge reduced? Why were the kidnapping charges not pursued?
And perhaps here is the most important question: If the department is called Rehabilitation and Correction, if it is proven Golsby committed these heinous crimes less than three months after being released, where, pray tell, was the “rehabilitation?”
Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press.