Parents of Tyler Smith increase reward for solving son’s death

GALESBURG, Ill. (NEWS3) — The death investigation into how 23-year-old Tyler Smith ended up dead in Galesburg’s Cedar Fork continues to leave little clues more than a year after Smith was found.

Smith was laying face down in two inches of water when officials arrived on the scene Sept. 15, 2018. Officials said he may have been there for at least 19 hours.

The family has been fighting for justice for more than a year trying to piece together what could have happened to their only child.

Smith’s parents, Sandra Halsne and Keith Smith, have decided to increase the reward to $25,000 leading to an arrest and conviction of who’s responsible for Tyler’s death.

The report from the pathologist’s office said the cause of death was drowning with an undetermined cause. The report also said there was no evidence of assault and Tyler’s injuries did not contribute to his death.

The coroner’s office said Smith’s injuries are consistent with a fall and Tyler’s Blood Alcohol Concentration was 0.246 percent, which is three times the legal limit.

Halsne said she believes Tyler was restrained and brought down into the canal due to the position of his body, his injuries, and marks on his wrists and ankle. She said the marks on his wrists look similar to handcuff marks and the marks on his ankle look like some sort of stun-gun marks.

David Christensen, former Galesburg police chief, said the cause of death is not related to any foul play due to Tyler’s injuries not being consistent with homicidal wounds. Although, Christensen said he did not look at all of the pictures from the scene.

Russ Idle, the new Galesburg police chief, said he agrees with the pathologist’s ruling Tyler’s death accidental. Idle also said because Tyler was walking by himself, could mean the death was accidental.

Tyler’s parents said they kept running into dozens of errors as they tried to get information from officials.

They hired a private investigator which found that the department should have filled out a death scene checklist per protocol, but a Galesburg police sergeant confirmed to the investigator that one was not completed.

Halsne and her private investigator also said a crime scene technician with the state police has an office in the same building as the Galesburg Police Department who investigates cases like the death of Tyler Smith but was not called in per protocol.

Christensen told NEWS3 he reached out to the state months after the death but they declined to pursue the case. However, Halsne said the state police told her they were never contacted by the police department.

NEWS3 reached out to the state police in September to see if they had been contacted by the Galesburg Police Department.

“The short answer is no, we were not asked to handle the case and we typically would not enter into a case after the fact,” Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigations Captain Christopher M. Endress said.

The Missing Persons Awareness Network held a news conference last month to call on the Illinois State Police to take over the death investigation of Tyler Smith, which is currently an open but not active case by the Galesburg Police Department. They also called for a second autopsy and x-rays.

During the news conference, an accident reconstructionist and law enforcement professionals announced their findings after conducting independent investigations.

Anyone with information about the death can remain anonymous by calling 239-258-8995 or email You can also call Galesburg Area Crime Stoppers at 309-344-0044.

Link to Pledges for Tyler Smith Information Reward Facebook page

Link to Justice for Tyler Smith Facebook page

Link to Tyler “Smitty” Smith 5K Facebook page

NEWS3 has aired a series of reports looking into the death investigation of Tyler Smith. Below you can find all of our stories.

In part 1, NEWS3 reported on the timeline Smith’s family created from the times Tyler arrived in Galesburg to the time of him being found dead. That report can be found here.

In part 2, hear from police and see surveillance video of Tyler and reports from the pathologist and coroner. That report can be found here.

In part 3, Tyler Smith’s parents explain why they are not happy with the conduct and treatment from officials since the start of the death investigation. That report can be found here.

In part 4, the current and former Galesburg Police chiefs respond to claims from Smith’s parents and their handling of the investigation. That report can be found here.

Here is where you can see the full reports by the independent investigators of the case. 




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