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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  October 18, 2020 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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of the hardest parts about all of it. i would have loved to see my brother hold her. >> he would have been uncle nick. >> uncle nickel baby. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." hello. 911. >> i think there's a body out here. please send somebody, hurry! >> they had the body of a young woman who matched the description of reagan. and i just kept saying, "that has to be wrong." >> reporter: who would want to hurt reagan? investigators would start with those closest to her. >> is your gut telling you this is someone you knew? >> we were figurin' that it was probably somebody that she knew, an ex- boyfriend or a current boyfriend.
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>> reporter: but, miles away, a string of alarming encounters. >> he had a knife. he put it to my neck. >> i heard a voice say, "don't turn around or i'll shoot." >> this was somebody that wanted to do evil. >> reporter: could there be a connection to reagan's murder? the answer would leave an entire city infuriated. >> how the heck does this happen? how does this happen? >> they could have connected the dots way sooner. >> this system failed reagan terribly. >> i think it's outrage times 1,000. ♪ hello and welcome to "dateline." college student reagan tokes was smart, beautiful, and determined. as graduation approached, her life was brimming with possibility. but that bright future ended before it began when reagan was found shot to death. investigators quickly closed in on a suspect. but a stunning discovery would
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reveal an unbelievable blind spot in law enforcement, and color her family's grief with rage. here's andrea canning with "unchecked evil." >> reporter: look at the pictures and you can see reagan tokes was a ray of light. >> she was a vivacious ball of energy. >> she was always just so fun to be around. she felt like part of my family. >> i still don't think i've ever met anyone that could make me laugh like she did. >> reporter: a caring friend, a devoted daughter. she radiated life from her very first breath. >> she came out eyes wide open, just ready to take on the world. >> reporter: which made her final moments all the more incomprehensible, terrified and alone in that darkened field. >> to just think about what she had to endure and what she was ultimately clinging onto at the end was just to live and be able to go home.
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>> reporter: your sister met with evil that night. >> uh-huh. that's all he is just evil. >> reporter: for reagan's family, the way she was taken from them wasn't just heartbreaking, it was infuriating. is this a crime that never should've happened? >> absolutely never shoulda happened. they had this monster in their grasp and their control. and they let him slip through. >> reporter: our story begins on a college campus that had long been reagan's dream. her dad, toby, took her to an ohio state football game when she was little. he and her mom lisa say that was it. >> she told me that that's where she wanted to be. and i told her if she worked hard and got good grades, i'd make sure she could go. >> reporter: and she never applied anywhere else? >> no. >> that's where i want to go. and don't worry "i'm gonna get in." >> reporter: makenzie is
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reagan's little sister. >> i just remember that whole year leading up to it. she had just told everyone, "well, i'm gonna be going to ohio state." >> reporter: she basically told the admissions people, "this is happening." >> "basically that i'm coming." >> reporter: madison, jackie, kirsten and stephanie were her college roommates. she had a goofy streak to her? >> oh, yeah. >> the goofiest. >> yeah, yeah. she was hilarious. >> she was just silly. she was just always laughing and always making us laugh. >> reporter: to earn some extra cash, reagan applied for a job at this popular columbus restaurant called bodega. kirsten and stephanie worked there too. >> she's like, "i need another job. do you know anything?" and i'm like, "come work at bodega." >> reporter: by february 2017, reagan was just months away from graduation. she made a difficult decision. she and her college boyfriend broke up. >> she was so heartbroken that week. >> they both really cared about each other. so it was hard. but i think it was what was best for both of them.
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>> reporter: days later, on february 8th, she headed off for an evening shift at bodega. >> it was just like a normal -- i was just like, "okay, bye." like, "have fun," or, "i'll see you later." >> reporter: like you had a million times before. >> exactly. >> reporter: reagan's dad expected to get a call from her after work. they spoke almost every day. but the call never came. >> no. i remember just after 10:00, i started to get concerned that something might be wrong. and i tried really to get ahold of her for about four hours that night. >> reporter: in this case, you really had a father's intuition -- >> i did. >> reporter: that something was wrong. >> yep. >> reporter: the next morning, kirsten got an uneasy feeling too when she passed reagan's empty room. they were supposed to walk to class together. >> but i was like, "she probably got up early. she probably went to the library." it's midterm week. like, there's a million things to do. >> reporter: but by early
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afternoon, it was clear no one had heard from reagan since she left work the night before. what are you thinking happened to her? >> it's one of those like, you have that gut feeling. but at the same time, you're like -- it's gonna be fine. >> i thought maybe she wanted to go see one of her friends that was out of town. maybe her phone died while she was driving. like i was not thinking the worst. i just thought it was weird. >> reporter: they went to the last place reagan was seen, bodega. and the manager called in a missing persons report. as they waited for police to arrive, kirsten overheard two employees talking about an online news story. >> he was like, "oh, you've gotta look at this article." and he showed the bartender. and he's like, "that's not good." >> reporter: hours earlier, a man driving into a park in a columbus suburb ten miles away had spotted something. >> hello 911. >> yeah. i think there's a body out here. i don't know if this is a fake or what. i can't -- i'm afraid to get close to it. please send somebody. hurry. >> reporter: grove city police
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lieutenant brian davidson was on the scene within minutes. >> when we first got here, we could see a body out here probably about 18 feet or 20 feet from the roadway. she was completely naked. and we could tell that she'd been shot in the head. >> reporter: shot twice and possibly raped. were you seeing any clues in the field? >> you know, there was nothin' other than her. we were scanning the entire area and didn't see anything. >> reporter: any idea who this woman is? >> at this time, no. >> reporter: the victim's clothes, wallet and cell phone were nowhere to be found. >> we had a necklace. and then there was a tattoo on her body. >> reporter: what sorta tattoo? >> you know, it was a tattoo. it was on her side of her body. and it was just a circle, a dark circle. >> reporter: davidson thought it might be a runaway they were looking for from a neighboring county. but then he got word that an o.s.u. student was missing. detectives responded to bodega. one of their first questions for reagan's friends, did she have a tattoo? the answer was yes. >> the detective looked at me and said, "the body we did find
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did have a tattoo. but we won't know for sure until a family member identifies it." >> reporter: was that enough for you? >> yeah. yeah. yes. yes. >> we all went outside and, like, collapsed on the corner and started sobbing, obviously. >> reporter: it was the worst possible news. yet it was only the beginning. coming up, what had happened to reagan? >> i just kept saying, "that has to be wrong." >> details no one wanted to hear. >> they had said that they had the body of a young woman who matched the description of reagan. >> who could have wanted to hurt her? detectives were about to talk to her ex. >> reporter: just the breakup alone could be a red flag. >> yes. >> when "dateline" continues. ap. you know what he will get? muscle pain. give up, the couch is calling. i say, it's me, the couch, i'm calling. pain says you can't. advil says you can.
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>> reporter: in florida, where reagan's parents lived, they spent the afternoon working the phones, frantically waiting for news. all they knew was that no one had seen or heard from their daughter since the night before. >> your mind starts going like, "oh, no. what if she had had a car accident, and her car skidded off the road, and it's in a ditch somewhere?" your mind's all over the place. and it's horrible. >> reporter: reagan's disappearance had her sister worried too. >> i had instantly, like, broken down. went to my school. was a mess. and everyone there had just constantly been telling me, it's gonna be okay. she's 21. she's fine.
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>> reporter: finally, just after dark, lisa's phone rang. >> they had said that they had the body of a young woman who matched the description of reagan, who had been found naked and shot twice in the head. and i just kept saying, "you -- you -- that has to be wrong." >> i just see my parents through the door and i knew immediately that it was just -- it wasn't that she had just, like, got in a car accident or, you know, had been found somewhere. it was worse than that, and it was a lot more violent. >> reporter: how could you tell? >> i could just see it in their faces. it was just -- like, everything had been sucked out of them. it was just -- any life that was there was gone. >> reporter: as sure as police were that reagan was their victim, official identification would still have to be made by a family member. reagan's uncle lived within driving distance.
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>> i just kept remembering too, i was so praying all through the night that it was just gonna be a mistake, and he was gonna get there, and he was gonna call me, and he was gonna say, "no, they made a mistake. it's not her." but that's not the phone call we got. >> reporter: reagan was gone at just 21 years old. now that their victim had a name, police had to figure out who killed her. brian davidson supervised the detective division. any risk factors in her life? was she into drugs? anything that you found that -- that could have led her down this path somehow? >> no, and that was the thing. i mean, you know, she was a -- a brilliant student. she was getting ready to graduate. i mean, she was just a great kid. >> i can remember the detective asking me, is there anybody that you know of that would've wanted to hurt her? and i can remember i was just like, why are you -- no. why -- why would anybody wanna hurt her? everybody loved her. >> reporter: makenzie could see
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that too. >> when i went to apply for my first job when i turned 16, i walked in there and just had to say my last name, and i said, my sister actually worked for you last summer, and he was like, you're hired, just 'cause they liked her. >> reporter: reagan spent her free time taking mission trips with her church and was planning a career in psychology. >> she knew she would be able to have a positive impact and make a difference. >> reporter: you must've just been like, i'm just so proud of her. >> we were. she had a gift. and -- and -- she would've done anything she set her mind to. >> reporter: at osu, reagan's roommates say that she was all about making friends not enemies. >> she said that she looked me up on facebook before we moved in, and she immediately knew we would be friends. and she was right. >> reporter: why? what did you put -- >> i have no idea. >> reporter: -- on your facebook page? >> she was like, i looked at everyone that we were gonna live with, and i picked you out to be my friend. it's like, okay. >> reporter: so there didn't seem to be anything in reagan's history that would help shed light on what happened to her. yet to detectives' eyes, reagan's murder seemed personal.
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>> reporter: is your gut telling you, this is someone she knew? >> you know, at that time, we were really figurin' that it was probably somebody that she knew. you know, an ex-boyfriend -- or a current boyfriend. >> reporter: remember, reagan and her boyfriend had just broken up. his name was jake. reagan's friends thought he was a sweetheart. >> we were just immediate -- like, no. >> yeah. uh-huh. >> absolutely not. >> reporter: why were you so sure? >> 'cause he loved her. >> and he was still our friend. he was just a good guy. there was not a mean bone in his body. >> reporter: but, of course, that's not the way a detective thinks. just the breakup alone could be a red flag. >> yes. >> reporter: detectives paid jake a visit. they recorded the conversation. >> when was the last time you talked to her? >> probably a week and a half ago. >> is that normal? >> well, not usually. i -- i -- i talk to her every day. but we were breaking up, kind of. >> reporter: did he give a reason why they broke up? >> the reason, i guess, was that
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they both wanted to concentrate more on their schoolwork. and they felt that dating was just kinda getting in the way. >> it was just -- we -- didn't have enough time really for each other. we had to focus on school. >> reporter: did he say that -- if they had fought? >> he said they never fought. he said that they just -- it was a mutual breakup. >> she even said it in one of the texts. i mean, i'm one of her best friends. no matter what. >> reporter: the detective asked to look at jake's phone. something he said about reagan after she died caught his eye. >> all right, jake, let me ask you this. don't take this the wrong way. why in the world would you write i -- that you're in a better place? >> well -- can i see what i -- i was talkin' to her, like, she -- like, i don't know. like she's in heaven. >> you just don't hear it very often. "better place" when somebody was living a good life. >> well, no, i know. but i -- if i were to go today, i would know that i would go somewhere better. that's just what i believe, so. >> reporter: and there was something else that seemed a little strange to police. >> you said you posted on instagram? >> yes, sir. might've got some likes. >> reporter: he was talking about how many likes it had? >> it did bring up a lotta flags
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to us immediately. >> reporter: but there were other leads to chase. including one from an unlikely source. >> coming up -- >> that's incredible. a garbage truck -- >> yes. >> -- gives you a huge break in this case. >> it was definitely the break that we were looking for. >> and then, an even bigger break from some security video. >> we see the suspect. >> what does he look like? >> when "dateline" continues.
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reagan tokes' friends were living a nightmare. a day earlier, she'd been the beating heart of their group. now, she was dead -- ripped from their lives in such a violent way. >> i don't think any of us slept at all. we all stayed together the whole night. we had a lot of people. i think all of our parents came to our apartment and just were there to console us. and it really just didn't feel real at all. >> reporter: trying to figure out who killed her was equally confusing. they felt it couldn't be reagan's ex-boyfriend. her disappearance had hit him hard. >> i remember talking to jake that day. you could tell he was very worried throughout the day. >> reporter: detectives checked jake's alibi and it was rock solid. >> he tells us that he was watchin' a movie with his roommates, and we were able to interview the other roommates separately and they all backed up his story completely. >> did you literally cross him off your list?
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>> yeah, we crossed him off the list. >> reporter: truth be told, their list had no promising names on it. so they traced reagan's steps that last day, starting with the moment she left her apartment for work that afternoon. rick forney was the lead detective on the case. >> we were able to obtain that video whenever she left to see if there was anyone around the area, whenever she left in a car, if another car seemed to follow her. and we didn't find anything. >> reporter: they also took a look at bodega's surveillance video. here you can see reagan walking out after her shift around 9:45 p.m. >> i kept expecting to see someone get up and follow reagan outta the bar. and we didn't see any of that. >> there was no customer that was giving her a hard time or anybody who had been stalking her, following her? >> no one. >> reporter: police did receive a tip that a man posing as an uber driver had been preying on intoxicated women around town. >> there were several attacks, and even an alleged rape, surrounding this -- >> yes.
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>> -- man posing as a driver? >> i believe there were seven or eight in -- individuals that reported this - - this person posing as a ride share driver, was inappropriately touching them. >> reporter: but that didn't seem to fit reagan's case. she'd driven herself to work. >> she had her car there, and she wasn't intoxicated. she wasn't drinking. she was just leaving work. >> reporter: perhaps reagan's car was the key. no one had seen it since she was murdered. >> big city, reagan's car could literally be anywhere. >> yes, it could be anywhere in the state of ohio. and at this point in time, it could even be outta state. we just had no idea where it was at. >> reporter: they entered reagan's plates into a police database that tracks vehicles nationwide. it turned up nothing. so detectives tried another private database. one that collects information from license plate readers mounted on commercial vehicles. sure enough -- >> a private trash truck had picked up reagan's license plate near children's hospital. >> that's incredible. a garbage truck -- >> yes.
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>> gives you a huge break in this case. >> it was. it was -- it was definitely the break that we were looking for. >> we wanna immediately get over to that area, 'cause the camera captured the car in this neighborhood a few hours previous to us being notified that it was there. >> the car could be gone. >> it could be gone. >> reporter: but when they pulled up, there it was -- reagan's silver acura. >> this is the street that reagan's car was found on. parked along here. it was facing that direction. >> reporter: the first thing detectives noticed -- burn marks on the backseat and the overwhelming stench of gasoline. >> what was that telling you? >> most likely that the individual tried to destroy evidence, tried to destroy the car. >> but he obviously failed, 'cause the car was intact. >> failed miserably. >> reporter: inside the car they found atm receipts from different banks from the night reagan disappeared. though only $60 had been withdrawn from her account, police suspected she'd been forced to withdraw the money as part of a robbery.
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also inside the car, they found cigarette butts. >> do you know if reagan smokes? >> we asked her roommates and her friends, family if she smoked, and they said, "absolutely not." >> so this could potentially -- these butts could be the killer's. and with butts come -- >> dna. >> reporter: they rushed the cigarettes off for testing. >> did you find her cell phone? >> her cell phone was not in the car. but when we opened the trunk of the car, there was a gasoline can that was in there that was tipped over. >> we started to think, this was the killer's gas can. either -- it appeared to be relatively new. >> reporter: police started calling around to see if that can had been bought in the area. they got a hit at a columbus gas station. >> surveillance video? >> surveillance video, yes. >> they can't get the -- the video to download for us, so we have to take pictures of it with our cell phones. and we bring it back and we're showin' everybody, but we see the suspect. >> what does he look like? >> he's got on a hoodie.
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and he has on something around his -- his head. >> reporter: was this reagan's killer? detectives weren't sure. but that's not the only video they uncovered. here's reagan withdrawing money at one of those atms. next to her, a shadowy figure in the passenger seat. but who was he? and most importantly where was he? with their friend's murderer at large, reagan's roommates were too scared to return to their apartment. >> it was your mom that first pointed out, well, you guys can't go back your apartment, because we don't know. that person has her keys now. >> her driver's license maybe. >> exactly. >> because really he had access to our house for probably 24 hours before we even realized. so that was kind of a terrifying afterthought. >> yeah. >> reporter: turns out they had good reason to be afraid. because around columbus, ohio, reagan's murder wasn't the only recent act of violence. >> coming up --
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>> he just kept slugging me with his fist and the only words he ever said were just shut up. >> stories of alarming encounters. >> he grabbed me. he had a knife. he put it to my neck. >> i heard a voice say, "don't turn around or i'll shoot." and instinctively, i just turned around, and the gun was pointed right at my forehead. >> when "dateline" continues. when we started carvana, they told us that selling cars 100% online wouldn't work. but we went to work. building an experience that lets you shop over 17,000 cars from home. creating a coast to coast network to deliver your car as soon as tomorrow. recruiting an army of customer advocates to make your experience incredible. and putting you in control of the whole thing with powerful technology. that's why we've become the nation's fastest growing retailer.
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hello. here's what's happening. the u.s. justice department is scheduled the first federal execution of a woman in almost 70 years for december 8. she was convicted in the 2004 murder for strangling a pregnant woman in missouri. she will be executed by lethal execution in indiana. according to the death penalty information center, the last woman to be executed by the u.s. government was in 19 53. now back to "dateline."
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welcome back to "dateline." i'm natalie morales. detectives were working around the clock to find reagan tokes' killer. they caught a glimpse of the suspect on security video and were hoping cigarette butts found in her car would yield his dna. but there was one local woman who suspected she knew who shot reagan, because she said he had threatened to kill her, too. here again is andrea canning with "unchekd evil." to just think about what -- what she had to endure and what she was ultimately clinging onto at the end was just to live and be able to go home. >> reporter: it's hard to imagine the torment reagan's parents experienced in the days after her murder. the grief. the what-if's. the impossible question, could
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they have done anything to prevent their daughter's senseless death? >> we taught our kids at a very young age about awareness and safety and you know, bein' smart, not puttin' yourselves in bad situations. >> reporter: and in toby's mind that included going home after working a night shift near downtown columbus. >> it's, you know, pretty rough around there. >> reporter: you had safety concerns? >> yes. >> we did. we had even talked about it the last time we had been in town visiting her for a game. and we said, you know, "you have to be extra vigilant. because this is not campus. this is the city." >> reporter: and in the weeks before reagan's murder, vigilance was called for, especially in and around german village, a historic section of town not far from bodega. so you were just going to get into your car to head out? >> yeah. and then, i don't know, i felt a presence, something. >> reporter: josie merkle, a local theater actress, was the first resident to come face to
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face with violence. >> so i turned around. and he must have come up that alley. because he came in and was standing, like, in this side, right in the corner. and he had a hoodie pulled down, almost to his eyebrows. and then, he had a mask up around his nose, so all i saw were eyes. so i just started screaming. >> reporter: oh, my gosh. >> and so, he just ran into me and just kept beating me, beating my face. i fell to the ground between the two cars. and he just kept slugging me with his fist. and i kept screaming. and the only words he ever said were "just shut up." >> reporter: did you think this man might actually kill you? >> totally. this was somebody that wanted to do evil and to hurt someone. that's what i saw. so yeah, i thought he was gonna kill me. so i just stayed on the ground. >> reporter: and then, as suddenly as he appeared, the attacker was gone. >> and then, after he just left. >> reporter: near the same
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neighborhood several days later, phynesia edwards was on her way to work in the early morning when she noticed a man with a hoodie and a mask walking towards her. >> i jaywalked across the street. and then i -- as i stepped up on to the grass, i kind of looked over my shoulder to get a feel for where he was. and he was right there. >> reporter: and this time the mysterious attacker was armed with more than his fists. >> he grabbed me. he had a knife. he put it to my neck. >> reporter: oh, my gosh. >> and he said, "shut up. don't yell." and so i screamed. and he pushed it in a little bit harder. and he said, "you need to shut up or i'm going to kill you right here." and i go, "somebody is gonna come and get me." and he goes -- >> reporter: you screamed anyway. >> yeah. and he goes, "no, they're not." he goes, "i'm slicing your throat right now." >> reporter: oh, my gosh. >> and i screamed one more time. and he kinda pushed it in a little bit. and then he shoved me away. he grabbed my bag.
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and he took off running down the alley. >> reporter: columbus p.d. had a crime spree on its hands when three more people were assaulted around german village. they increased patrols, but couldn't prevent the masked assailant from striking again. just two days before reagan disappeared, juliann beatty was taking some luggage out of the trunk of her car when she felt something against the back of her head. it was a gun. >> i heard a voice say, "don't turn around or i'll shoot." and instinctively, i just turned around. and the gun was pointed right at my forehead. and he said, "give me your bag or i'll kill you." so i just started screaming and yelling and struggling with him. and he was trying to get the purse off. and i had it over my shoulder. and as he was pulling, we struggled. and he hit me with the butt of the gun. my shoes flipped off in the street. my glasses ended up, oh, over besides the bushes. he cracked a couple teeth. >> reporter: the man got juliann's purse and made his
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getaway. this -- this man is terrorizing the area. >> oh, definitely. it was unchecked evil. oh, yeah. he's just terrorizing the area, yes. >> i heard someone yell help. and so i ran outside. >> reporter: the attacks, a total of seven, in less than three weeks were all over the news. >> village residents are on high alert tonight. >> reporter: toby even raised it with reagan. >> reagan and i did talk about it. and there was a couple that occurred near downtown where -- where reagan worked. it was just, "be careful." apparently, i think everybody was pretty certain that it was one individual that was creating this havoc around town. >> reporter: now, in his fog of grief, reagan's father didn't make any connections between the attacks and his daughter's death. but one of the victims did. >> as soon as they announced that reagan tokes was missing and then they found her body, you know, my friend called me and said, "this is too coincidental. it's all within a three-mile radius.
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i guarantee you that that individual that had murdered reagan tokes is somehow connected to your case." >> reporter: were they connected? the attacks happened miles away from where reagan's body was found in a different police district. so maybe not. lt. davidson had been on reagan's case non-stop for more than 30 hours when he thought about getting some rest. he'd barely been home when his phone rang at 10:30. one of his detectives was on the line. >> he had received a phone call from the dna lab. and we had a hit. >> reporter: that's incredible -- >> it is. >> reporter: to get a hit that fast after finding the body. >> yes. >> reporter: it was a huge break. and what it revealed would stun this veteran investigator. what does he tell you? >> he says, "you're not gonna believe this, but you know him." >> reporter: coming up -- >> the way he described it, the way he told the story, we knew
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that he was the one that pulled that trigger. >> a jolt for reagan's family. how do you feel when you're there and you're seeing him? >> like my head was going to explode. it's amazing that i didn't have a heart attack or a stroke myself. >> when "dateline" continues. n s these are real people, not actors, who've got their eczema under control. with less eczema, you can show more skin. so roll up those sleeves. and help heal your skin from within with dupixent. dupixent is the first treatment of its kind that continuously treats moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis, even between flare ups. dupixent is a biologic, and not a cream or steroid. many people taking dupixent saw clear or almost clear skin, and, had significantly less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur, including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes,
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i mean, as soon as we entered the church it -- we
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pretty much all just started crying. >> reporter: reagan's wake took place in the church where she and her family celebrated their faith. but when someone so young, so innocent is suddenly gone, it's hard to say good-bye. >> and we all walked over to look at her, and we all just kind of walked over and -- and stood there and -- i mean we talked to her. we talked to each other. i remember, i always used to braid reagan's hair for her, because she refused to learn to do it herself. and i remember i just, like, touched her hair, 'cause how many times have i braided her hair before? it was just -- >> that's heartbreaking. >> it was surreal. yeah. but we stood there for a while -- that's the, like, one comfort, is that we have each other. >> reporter: the journey of healing had just begun. and step one in that long, painful process was bringing reagan's killer to justice. that was lt. davidson's job. two days after the murder he had a dna hit from reagan's car and a name. and to the lieutenant's
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surprise, it was a name he knew -- brian lee golsby. he'd put him behind bars for attempted rape and robbery six years earlier. >> wow. are you just floored by this news? >> i am. i am so floored by this, 'cause i thought he was still in jail. i was shocked. >> reporter: lt. davidson learned that golsby was released three months before reagan's murder and was living in a house less than half a mile from where her car was found. he sent a s.w.a.t. team to make the arrest and bring him in. >> brian, you're not here by accident. all right? we didn't just happen to stumble upon this and now you're here. you're here because we have a pretty good amount of evidence on what happened. >> reporter: detective forney was the lead interrogator. >> he wanted to know what we had on him, and that's all the information he was gonna provide to us on what we already knew. >> reporter: investigators had golsby's dna inside reagan's car.
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he quickly copped to robbing her. >> so you got in the car, right? and you went to chase. >> did you drive or she drive? >> she drove. >> so how much money did you get officially? >> i got $60. >> you get him in the car with her. you get him going to the atm with her. i mean, you're getting close, but are you getting a confession? >> we're not getting confession to the murder. >> i didn't kill nobody, man. i don't know how many times i can say that. the different ways to tell you -- i didn't kill nobody. i don't know how to tell you that. >> who could've? who else? >> i'm not the only -- >> who else would have been out there? >> i am not the only one in this city, grove city. >> you're the only one there. >> i told you, i left as soon as i made her get out of the car. i made her stop right there, i told her to stop. she said, "right here?" she looked back, i was like, "yeah. don't move for 30 minutes." i got in the car, i turned around and i left. >> reporter: golsby wasn't budging. >> i didn't shoot nobody, man.
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i've never shot a gun in my life, man. >> reporter: so detectives set a trap. though they had no evidence that another person was involved in reagan's murder, they suggested to golsby that an accomplice had killed her. >> i know you didn't pull the trigger. i know somebody else was in that car. who was it? >> this person is not real? >> person is not real -- >> this is a fictitious character that you're -- does he take the bait? >> he does. he takes the bait. >> i'm in the passenger seat. he's in the back seat, behind her. now, we get down to the park. he says, "take off all your clothes and get out." he says, "walk until i tell you to stop." she walks. she's naked. he gets behind her. and then he goes, pow! she falls. she's laying on the ground.
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and i'm looking out of the car, and he bends down and shoots her again -- pow! >> this is a chilling account of this murder. >> it was very chilling. and the way that he described it, the way that he told the story, you knew that he was the one that pulled that trigger. >> at the end of this interrogation, brian golsby was charged with aggravated murder, rape, kidnapping, and robbery. >> reporter: reagan's dad toby showed up to golsby's first court appearance. >> how do you feel when you're there, and you're seeing him, this man that did this to your daughter? >> like my head was going to explode. it's amazing i didn't have a heart attack or a stroke myself during that 20 minutes in court. >> reporter: but what the family found out next turned their devastation and anger into unmitigated fury and a call for action. >> i think it's outrage times one thousand.
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it just so unbelievable. >> coming up -- a jaw-dropping revelation about brian golsby. >> they had this monster in their grasp, and they let him slip through. >> uncovering an astonishing gap in law enforcement. >> so this is a man out on parole, with an ankle monitor and he's out committing heinous crimes. >> absolutely. >> and getting away scott-free. >> yes. >> when "dateline" continues. ins introducing voltaren arthritis pain gel.
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has the jury reached a unanimous verdict? >> reporter: in march 2018, brian golsby went on trial and was convicted for reagan's murder. >> we the jury find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. >> reporter: he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. >> the first thing that went through my head is, "this monster will never be able to harm another person again ever." >> reporter: but for the tokes family, justice in the courtroom was not enough. >> the more i started to hear and understand about who, how, why, i came to the realization that this never should've happened. this never should have happened. >> reporter: they first learned that golsby had been out of out of prison for just a few months. and in prison, he had a history of bad behavior. still by ohio law, there was no way to extend his sentence. >> reporter: this man had
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52 violations in prison? >> yes. >> reporter: and yet, he still walks out? >> still walks out. there's no punishment. 52 infractions and no consequences. >> reporter: golsby, a registered sex offender, was assigned a parole officer. and what the tokes family learned next made them sick to their core. at the time of reagan's murder, golsby was wearing an ankle monitor. when i hear someone has an ankle monitor, i always thought it meant, like, if they went outside of their zone, or past their curfew that an alarm would go off somewhere. and the police would show up immediately and arrest them. >> and most people do. and that is what's even more disturbing about it is most people think that. >> reporter: was anyone watching him? >> no. >> reporter: the tokes family was surprised to learn that police don't have direct access to the gps data from ankle monitors. it's usually collected by private companies that make and sell the devices and then share the data with parole officers.
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the information generally isn't monitored by law enforcement in real time. and sure enough, a look back at golsby's gps trail revealed he was the masked assailant who for weeks had been terrorizing columbus. >> every time that there was a robbery, there's brian golsby. >> reporter: so this is a man out on parole, with an ankle monitor and he's out committing heinous crimes. >> absolutely. >> reporter: and getting away scot-free. >> yes. >> i was outraged. i'm mad. all the signs were there. what more do you want? somebody shoulda put two and two together. >> reporter: did the system fail reagan tokes? did it fail all of the victims? >> it failed all the victims. and everything went unchecked. >> i've never seen a community so outraged. >> reporter: state of ohio representative kristin boggs lives two blocks from where golsby kidnapped reagan. could an astute detective with all the robberies have maybe
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looked at a list of parolees in the area and connected the dots? >> well, had that information been available to our law enforcement, yeah, i think that that could have -- that could have happened. >> reporter: after reagan's murder, boggs decided to investigate and possibly legislate. she discovered that gps monitors can be and sometimes are set up to send alerts if an offender violates a curfew or moves into a restricted area. but in golsby's case? boggs says ohio's department of rehabilitation and correction or drc told her this. >> they put a g.p.s. monitor on him. but they didn't have any exclusionary zones affiliated with that monitor. they didn't have any curfews affiliated with that monitor. >> reporter: so no geographic restrictions and no curfew programmed into it. what's the point of it? >> exactly. >> reporter: is part of it that it's supposed to be a deterrent of some kind? >> i think the d.r.c. believed that placing a g.p.s. monitor on him would curtail his criminal
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activity but it didn't. >> the reality is nobody's monitoring him electronically, not in real time. >> reporter: martin horn, the former commissioner of probation for new york city and a critic of gps monitors, is not surprised by any of this. is this a false sense of security? >> oh, absolutely. it is not an electronic tether. all it is is something that after the fact will either tell me where you were or where you weren't and even then it is not foolproof. >> reporter: it's a great monday morning quarterback tool. >> yeah. and it's also i think a tremendous liability for the government agencies that use them. because now they're holding the bag. >> reporter: there are no national statistics on crimes committed by people wearing gps monitors. but we did our own search of news reports and found numerous cases within just the past two years, armed robberies, rapes and more than a dozen homicides. for instance, a man in virginia allegedly murdered his cousin while wearing an ankle monitor. a similar story in houston where
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a parolee with a monitor is -- murdered his mother. and in california, a gps tracked sex offender allegedly assaulted at least four women on a hiking trail. >> i think the important question is whether this type of technological solution makes us safer. and in my experience and based on my study, i don't see that it does. >> reporter: ohio's drc declined our request for an interview citing pending litigation. the tokes family sued for wrongful death. the case was dismissed. >> they had this monster in their grasp and their control. and they let him slip through. >> to know that this continues to go on, and will continue to go on, until they change the way the system currently is, it's maddening. and you can't put a price tag on innocent human life. you just can't. this pain is something i can't even put into words.
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>> reporter: toby and lisa have teamed up with kristin boggs and other ohio lawmakers to introduce a bill called the reagan tokes act. the law would mandate that restrictions are placed on every gps monitor and make it easier for police to see monitor information. it would also allow the sentences of badly behaving prisoners, like brian golsby, to be extended. the sentencing part of the bill was signed into law in 2018. the part that deals with gps monitors is pending. the ohio governor has directed the drc to make changes after a task force recommended many of the reforms the family has been pushing. >> i refuse to let that one night define my daughter reagan. >> reporter: toby, lisa and makenzie are also working hard to create a legacy for reagan that honors her bright spirit. >> what you have to do just strike and attack. >> they're promoting
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self-defense training for women. they want to see classes like these taught at colleges and high schools nationwide. reagan will undoubtedly save lives. >> yeah. absolutely. >> oh, she already has. >> reporter: and they are holding rallies and raising money for a foundation that will give annual scholarships in reagan's name. >> she would be so excited to know that she is sending people to college, especially ohio state. >> we would like to take a moment to remember -- >> reporter: on a blue sky spring day, the girl who wanted so badly to go to ohio state did get to graduate. reagan's family accepted a posthumous degree on her behalf. >> i hereby confer the degree bachelor of arts, upon reagan delaney tokes. >> she got a standing ovation that she deserved. >> reporter: and that spot, that lonely park where reagan lost her life, that's been transformed. it's now a tranquility garden in
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her memory. >> i choose to believe in my heart that her presence is still here. her legacy gets to be that she still is here in this world, changing this world and making a difference. >> this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. i'm kracraig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> this is "dateline." how far would you go? how long would you wait to get justice for a friend? >> he killed her. he needed to pay for it. >> they'd been college roommates, super close, until that terrible night. that many wounds certainly suggests rage at the victim. >> absolutely. >> who could have done it? her boyfriend? >> something just didn't seem right. >> her new frie


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