Industry News April 11, 2011

Godspeed Ashley Oakland

If you haven’t heard, another real estate agent has been murdered. 27 year old Ashley Oakland was shot twice while at a model townhome in West Des Moines, Iowa. Her company, Iowa Realty, has suspended all open houses. 

This tragedy sickens me as a father, as a broker, and as a human being. Here is, from everything I have read, a beautiful, upbeat, well regarded person out trying to earn a living who was brutally murdered on the job. And it wasn’t at some vacant cabin out in the woods out of town, or some secluded place. It was in the middle of a townhome community that appeared to have from the reports at least some units occupied.

I was once physically attacked in a home by an unbalanced client. Another colleague was beaten in his own office so brutally he required minor plastic surgery. I know what it is like to be with someone who crosses the line of civility into physical hostility. I know the feeling in the stomach when you see and hear things that don’t match normal behavior. But I don’t know what it is like to look down the barrel of a gun. I cannot imagine what this poor woman’s final moments were like.

Some murderer stole her life from her. Most of us reading this have been 27. For me it was over 16 years ago. I had quite a bit to look forward to. And someone stole it from her, probably exploiting the fact that she was trying to earn an honest living and would be vulnerable. We don’t sit at big desks shifting money around, taking an easy cut. We work harder for our living than most of the public understands.

To Ashley’s co workers and loved ones especially, my heart aches. All of our hearts ache.

To my colleagues, I say, yet again, for God’s sake be careful out there. There are people who don’t understand the hazards we face. We meet strangers in strange places for a living. This has happened before. It will probably happen again. And there is no weapon, spray or martial arts class we can arm ourselves with if someone means us harm. A turn of the head may be the last, because they don’t announce the attack. It happens in a blink.

Document all showings and always get a name and number. I hope they catch the murderer quickly, either with phone records, Ashley’s calender or Outlook, or handwritten notes. I hope they catch this monster and bring it to justice.

But in the meantime, please PLEASE PLEASE be careful, especially in the aftermath when copycats lick their chops.