Brian L. Golsby is charged with the rape and murder of 21-year-old Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes. His life shows a pattern of escalating violence.
Brian L. Golsby's criminal behavior started as a teen.
At 14, he threatened his mother with a knife. At 17, he was ordered to undergo a "sex-offender assessment," court records show. At 23, he served six years after a plea deal in a rape case. He was released in November.
On Feb. 13, Golsby, now 29, stood in Franklin County Municipal Court, charged with the rape and murder of 21-year-old Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes. A judge ordered him held without bond.
Columbus detectives interviewed at least one of the victims from a series of violent robberies of women in German Village to see if Golsby was responsible.
"We're investigating all possibilities," said Denise Alex-Bouzounis, a spokeswoman for the Columbus Division of Police.
Tokes' body was found by a passerby Feb. 9 near the entrance of Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City. She had been shot twice in the head, according Chris White, a sergeant in the Grove City Division of Police's detective bureau.
Tokes had disappeared the evening of Feb. 8 after she finished work at the Bodega restaurant in Columbus' Short North. She had been walking to her car and was abducted at some point, according to Grove City police.
Authorities say Golsby abducted Tokes in the Short North, forced her to withdraw money from an ATM on South High Street and took her to Grove City, where he raped and shot her.
On Feb. 11, police arrested Golsby at his south Columbus home based on DNA found on a cigarette left in Tokes' car, according to court records. Authorities found her car a day earlier on Oakwood Avenue, "basically around the block from" Golsby's residence, according to White.
Golsby faces charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
"We will get through this," Tokes' father, Toby, told reporters after the Feb. 13 arraignment.
Golsby waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the requirement that an indictment be presented before a grand jury within 10 days.
Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said his office and investigators would use the additional time to review evidence and decide whether to seek a death-penalty indictment.
Golsby's first encounter with the criminal-justice system occurred in 2001, at age 13, when he was found to be an unruly minor "beyond the reasonable control of his parent," according to Franklin County Juvenile Court records. Soon after, he was charged with a delinquency count of petty theft for shoplifting from a Schottenstein's department store.
At 14, he was accused of threatening his mother with a knife and telling her "she'd better not mess with him" after she caught him breaking the lock off her bedroom door and stealing cigarettes and tapes, records show.
His chronic unruliness caused the Juvenile Court to remove him from his mother's home and place him in the custody of Franklin County Children Services, which placed him in foster care. The records also show that he spent time at Buckeye Ranch in Grove City and in a boot camp for juvenile offenders.
Golsby did stints on probation for delinquency offenses that included criminal damaging and theft from a Meijer store and a Kroger store.
In 2006, at age 17, he was committed to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for a minimum of six months or until his 21st birthday after he was found delinquent for receiving stolen property. Court records don't indicate how long he was held in a youth prison.
As part of the sentence, a magistrate ordered Golsby to "complete a sex-offender assessment." The document doesn't give a reason.
In 2010, Golsby was accused of raping a woman at knife-point in front of her 2-year-old son outside an apartment complex in Grove City. He also was charged with robbing another woman in the same parking lot two weeks later. He told the second woman he had a gun beneath his shirt.
In May 2011, Golsby pleaded guilty to attempted rape and robbery in a plea agreement. The six-year sentence, imposed by Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye, was recommended by prosecuting and defense attorneys as part of the agreement, court records show.
Both victims agreed to the pleas that resolved the cases, O'Brien said.
"The prosecutor handling the case negotiated the six-year prison sentence based on the rape victim's desire not to testify at a trial in open court," he said. "The robbery victim deferred to the wishes of the rape victim in agreeing to the six-year sentence."
Until his photo showed up last weekend in the news, Sheila Merwin had blocked out the memory of Golsby's hands grabbing her throat in 2010. She was outside her Grove City apartment at sunset getting the mail when she was robbed of $84. Now, she doesn't check the mail when it's dark.
"I do not believe or like the death penalty, but I certainly think it would be life in prison or the death penalty at this point," Merwin, 71, said.
Merwin said her neighbor, who was sexually assaulted by Golsby, never returned to the apartment.
"To have taken Reagan's life, it's just so sad," she said. "I feel so bad for her parents. She had accomplished so much. To be taken like that is just horrid."
State officials had no indication that Golsby had violated terms of his November release from prison. He was required to have three face-to-face meetings with parole officers each month.
Golsby had a job and was staying at a community house for offenders re-entering society who would otherwise be homeless, said JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
"All contact standards were made during his brief period of supervision," she said.
Tokes, who grew up in Maumee near Toledo, was a psychology major at Ohio State. She expected to graduate in May.
"When I found out it was him, I was really sorry," Merwin said. "We never think anything is going to happen that close to us. But to know what Reagan went through the last couple hours she was alive, it's really sad."
ThisWeek staff writer Alan Froman and The Columbus Dispatch staff writers Alissa Widman Neese and Theodore Decker contributed to this story.