Picture this: You're a self-employed realtor—we are all self employed, really—who hasn't sold a home in a month, and a potential buyer calls and wants to see the listing you just put on the market. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere, but you agree to meet this stranger at 8 p.m. You show up and the stranger turns out to be a rapist, robber, murderer or all of the above. This happened more than 20 years ago—when I taught prevention classes and served on the board at the Rape Recovery Center—to a local agent who worked at a real estate brokerage in Sugar House. This was in the pre-internet days, when those magazines advertising "free homes" were out at every grocery store. As I remember it, we later learned the perpetrator profiled the agent after seeing her photo published in the magazine and proceeded to check out her listings to see which one was the most secluded. Then he called her up. He offered to pick her up at her office and drove her out there. She began to show him the home and walked down into the basement ahead of him—and he grabbed her and raped her. This sick fuck then drove her back to her office (located across from the Rape Recovery Center) but was soon tracked down by a helicopter and dogs in the canyon and subsequently arrested, convicted and sent to prison.
Realtors drive nice cars and show nice homes and are victims of crime all over the United States. This unfortunate fact was brought back home this month when Dave Stokoe, a local real estate agent, was shot and killed and his body hidden in the crawl space of a home after trying to evict the tenants, according to police. The three suspects, now arrested, supposedly cleaned up the property by pulling out the bloody carpet, neglecting to wipe the hardwood floors, and then stole his car. It took two days for the police to find his body after he was reported missing.
Stokoe, my friend and fellow realtor, worked for RANlife Real Estate in Sandy. He was a stand-up guy, who, despite being self-employed, was always in a cheery mood. He left behind a wife and four kids. Could he have prevented the attack? We don't know the full details, but we do know no one should ever lose their life over a property dispute. A vigil with hundreds of folks was held Jan. 21, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family with funeral expenses.
How safe is your work environment? In this day and age, even walking to your car to go home can be scary. Stokoe didn't get up one morning and expect to die. Be careful out there, folks, and make sure you give a hug to the people you love every day ... because one day your life will flash before your eyes, and you better make sure it's worth watching.