A 1,000 mile trip from South Florida to Ohio isn’t a tough trip for most people, but for Parkland mom Lisa Tokes, difficult does not even begin to describe that journey.
“That state was our home,” Lisa said. “That is where my husband and I met. That is where we got married. That is where we raised our family.”
And Ohio is where Lisa’s 21-year-old daughter Reagan, a Buckeye at Ohio State University, was abducted, raped and murdered.
“Reagan’s degree was in psychology. I mean, she was going to – ,“ Lisa paused, fighting back tears. “She was going to have a career where she gave back and helped people."
Lisa says she will never forget the February flight that would define the rest of her life: the day she began her journey to Columbus to claim her daughter’s body.
“At the end of the day, the pain never goes away. The loss is always there. It is ever present.”
Anger burned deeper when police arrested a convicted sex offender for the crimes against Reagan. Brian Golsby was out on parole for previous charges of aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape when he allegedly attacked Reagan.
Later, reporters learned Golsby was wanted for a rash of robberies in the same neighborhood where Reagan was abducted two-weeks prior.
Police say the ex-felon was wearing an ankle monitor the entire time. (Golsby is still awaiting trial in this case.)
“Anger does not even begin to describe it, but if you stay there, and you allow that to be the driving force, then evil wins,” Lisa told Contact 5 investigator Merris Badcock, in her first sit down interview since Reagan’s death.
Since her daughter’s death, Lisa has travelled back to Ohio four times to revisit the place where Reagan died. A combination of faith, bravery and love gave her the courage to begin investigating her daughter’s death and her daughter’s accused killer.
"I was like an average citizen," said Lisa. "I got up on the same side of the bed every day, go about my business, and do the same thing. Until something like this literally smacks you in the face – no, I did not know.”
During their private investigation, Lisa and her husband Toby began to find loopholes in Ohio law they say protected violent felons and left law-abiding citizen vulnerable. Discoveries included things like the fact that Ohio police departments are not given access to GPS ankle monitoring information in real time.
So Lisa and Toby did what they never imagined possible: to the place that took their daughter, they gave their hearts. Last month, Lisa and Toby presented the Reagan Tokes Act to address some of those loopholes.
If passed, the act would give judges more power for punishment when sentencing felons, and hold inmates accountable for bad behavior behind bars; inmates like Golsby, who had 52 infractions while he was previously incarcerated.
The Reagan Tokes Act would also reform part of Ohio’s parole process, including limiting caseloads of parole officers, and allowing law enforcement to access ankle bracelet monitoring information in real-time.
“Reagan matter,” Lisa said through tears. “At the end of the day, that is why we are doing any of this: because Reagan’s life mattered.”
While the tears have not stopped for Lisa, neither will her fight for Reagan.
If you have a connection to Ohio, and want to help the Tokes family, we’ve made it easy for you. Click on this link to find and contact your local legislator.