Rally by family of Reagan Tokes pushes theme "action conquers tragedy"

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GROVE CITY, OH (WBNS) -- This place – by definition – was not an easy place for Lisa McCrary-Tokes to speak.

"I agonized over what to say for weeks," McCrary-Tokes told the crowd inside the Eagle Pavilion at Fryer Park in Grove City.

It's the same small city where her daughter, Reagan, was murdered more than a year ago by a convicted sex offender who was wearing a GPS ankle monitor but was not closely watched by the state's parole system.

His name is Brian Golsby.

He's serving out a life sentence following his March conviction.

But Lisa never uttered his name Thursday night.

She did talk about her family's difficult journey and the "evil person" who took their daughter.

But that is not what Thursday night was about.

The Rally for Reagan was meant to educate the public on their daughter's story, push for legislative change and help others educate themselves on self-defense and self-awareness.

"It would be very easy to stay with the grief and become bitter and not help somebody in the future," Lisa told 10 Investigates during an interview Thursday afternoon. "Grief is a really rocky road and I'm not going to say that every day we do it right or that it gets easier or better. But trying to do positive things definitely helps."

And that's what the Tokes say they are aiming to do - create something positive out of a tragedy - in this case the kidnapping, robbery, rape and murder of their eldest daughter, Reagan.

On this night, a self defense workout demonstration was aimed at helping others avoid the same fate as Reagan.

The Tokes have also pushed for change in Ohio law.

Legislation, known as the Reagan Tokes Act, that would dramatically change how violent felons are sentenced to prison and how they are tracked if they are released. Three separate bills - two in the Senate and one in the House - are still pending in the Ohio legislature. In addition to creating incentives for prisoners to behave themselves behind bars or face longer sentences, the bill also would lessen caseloads for parole officers, create a statewide GPS database that could be accessed by law enforcement and force the state to create a re-entry program for "hard to place offenders" like arsonists and sex offenders who can often be released from prison homeless.

Golsby, who was already a convicted sex offender when he was charged with Reagan's murder, had been released from prison homeless three months before Reagan's death. And during his prison terms, he did not behave, accruing 52 infractions while incarcerated. Despite this, current Ohio law does not allow additional time to be given for bad behavior.

Lisa McCrary-Tokes urged the crowd of more than 100 gathered at Fryer Park to call their lawmakers, call Governor John Kasich and urge them to pass the Reagan Tokes Act.

The portions of the bill have languished for months. SB 202, which addresses the GPS and parole system issues, has not been given a hearing.

SB 201, which deals with creating indeterminate sentences for violent felons, passed the Senate this spring and is sitting in a House committee awaiting a hearing.

HB 365, the House version of the legislation that incorporates all aspects of both Senate bills, cleared a House committee in late May. Rep. Jim Hughes of Columbus told the crowd he hopes it will pass the House by the end of the month.

Thursday's program also involved a self-defense, self awareness workout program that Tokes have worked on with Rob Fletcher, a fitness expert who has developed sdi7, a high-intensity interval workout that Fletcher and the Tokes hope will be adopted by colleges and universities nationwide.

"A girl should be able to walk to her car and not be prey for some felon," Reagan's sister, Makenzie told 10 Investigates.

Makenzie, a soon-to-be college sophomore, said she is frustrated that the legislation has flagged and that it took her sister's death to spark change.

She said her family's story "has a name and it has a face and it's Reagan Tokes. And I think it goes a long way and reaches a lot of places."