BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4)– It’s been nearly one year since Ashley Doolittle was killed. Police believe the teenager’s ex-boyfriend is responsible for her murder.
Ashley was just 18 years old. She was described by those who knew her as a bright star, kind and gentle, a rodeo champion who loved horses.
Her ex-boyfriend, Tanner Flores, admitted to shooting and killing Ashley, but despite his admission to investigators, he pleaded not guilty to the crime in court.
Her parents, Ann Marie and Jeff Doolittle, are giving back in hopes of helping preventing anything like that from happening again.
“I feel Ashley here. You know, my life were my kids. Ashley and I did everything together with showing her horses and…” said Ashley’s mother Ann Marie. “A lot I don’t remember, especially around the funeral and after the funeral, that was kind of a fog.”
“That was really hard,” said Ashley’s father Jeff.
Ashley’s horse Bubba now helps other aspiring riders achieve their dreams. Even Bubba is different since her death.
“Since it happened, he’s been like a little pocket pony. Just hanging around you, putting his head on my shoulders. I think he knows someone else is taking care of him,” said Ann Marie.
Ashley’s room is almost exactly how she left it.
“This was… she was in the process of writing thank yous for all of her graduation gifts she had received, so… and it never got finished,” said Ann Marie.
Ashley was supposed to attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins this year.
For the Doolittles, it’s a sobering reminder of her absence. Even more difficult, knowing they will have to face her accused killer in court.
“It’s very hard. It has been very hard and I am trying to not focus anger towards him, but on Ashley, in a positive way because it’s so important for one’s health to avoid going down that path of negative thinking,” said Jeff.
Authorities believe Flores was distraught over their break-up. Ashley’s parents wished they would have seen signs of trouble in their relationship earlier.
“If you see things where there is controlling activities going on, or something that’s causing anxiety, pay attention to that,” said Jeff.
“You’ve got to find a balance. You don’t want to control too much to where you turn them off. You want them to be able to come and talk to you,” said Ann Marie.
In an effort to move forward, the Doolittles have done something remarkable with their pain. They created a foundation in Ashley’s name, dedicated to stopping domestic violence.
“I just feel her here and wanting to make a difference and you know Ashley, she wanted to help others and we hope through this foundation we can and we hope too, we can carry her legacy on through the love of our Western heritage,” said Ann Marie.
The foundation is focused on helping teenagers and their parents to prevent teen dating violence, one the Doolittles say they won’t stop fighting to accomplish.
“If it can prevent just one last situation like we had with Ashley from happening, that’s a win. That’s a beautiful thing,” said Jeff.
The Ashley Doolittle Foundation is having its official launch gala later this month and a rodeo next month.