Investigation reveals negligence surrounding murderer Rayshawn Smith’s death

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:25 PM CDT
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CREST HILL, Ill. (WIFR) - State records obtained exclusively by 23 News show convicted murderer Rayshawn Smith, 46, died in prison by suicide on Christmas Day at Statesville Correctional Center. But the investigation also claims his death could have been prevented if not for the negligence of multiple correctional officers.

Last October, Smith plead guilty to the murder of his ex-girlfriend Ashley Hardin, whose body was discovered in July 2022 behind a Roscoe business.

An Illinois State Police report says around 7:15 a.m. December 25, 2022, corrections officer Robyn Jones discovered Smith’s body hanging from a torn bed sheet tied to the air vent in his cell. A note was also found on a nearby bed.

The investigation revealed his body was clearly visible from outside his cell, but it took several hours before it was discovered. Leaders say correctional officer Lissette Ontiveros was supposed to check on Smith during the night but did not complete her rounds and falsified a logbook to say she did. When asked why Ontiveros lied on the paperwork, she told investigators no one had left the unit. She also mentioned a foot injury that made it difficult to walk the necessary distance to complete her task. The next morning, Ontiveros says she left work without knowing Smith was dead and only learned of his suicide the next day.

One of the unit’s supervisors, Christopher Odette, was also accused of failing to properly finish his rounds in the unit. When asked why, he told investigators that supervising two units is overwhelming.

The report also identified four other officers who admitted they failed to check on the unit that evening.

23 News reached out to the Illinois Department of Corrections to see if any disciplinary action will be taken against the officers involved. They issued the following statement, “The Department recently completed the investigation and referred the matter to the facility administration for proper review and appropriate action.” The report also says Ontiveros agreed to attend more training.

Based on the investigation, the IDOC report recommended “Stateville Correctional Center leadership continue to emphasize the importance of making gallery checks, conducting proper counts, and supervising staff consistent with IDOC policy.”