Soldier's death prompts Illinois mother to seek answers, express concern in police investigation

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GALESBURG, Ill. (KWQC) - Choking back tears an Illinois mother fights to find answers in her son’s death two months after he died.

"All we know is Tyler was here at this point supposedly and now he is deceased and no one knows what happened in-between,” Sandra Halsne said.

Halsne’s son, Tyler Smith, 23, was found dead in September. His body was located in Cedar Fork in Galesburg. A preliminary autopsy showed he drowned.

Smith had turned 23 three days before he died and was days away from attending the San Jose California Police Academy. He was spending time in Galesburg to spend time with friends and family before going to Macomb to take part in one last drill with the Illinois National Guard. Smith intended to transfer to the California National Guard and become a police officer.

"He had accomplished a lot,” Halsne said. “He was a go getter"

Galesburg Police said they don’t know how Smith ended up in Cedar Fork. His mother doesn’t understand either.

"We don't understand how his friends made it home and he didn't,” Halsne said.

According to a police report, Smith and a friend were at a Galesburg bar on September 14. He was last seen leaving the bar around 11:30 p.m. alone. In a Facebook post, police are asking anyone who might have seen Smith on September 14 or 15 to come forward.

His mother told TV6 the request to the public by police came after the family asked for Crimestoppers to get involved. She hopes the new attention will bring answers, but she worries she may never have them. She said her faith in the department’s ability to investigate her son's death is limited.

"We are not getting very many answers,” she said. “I just feel like that the investigation has not gone the way that it should have."

Galesburg Police told TV6 they are doing everything they can to determine how Smith got into Cedar Fork. When reporter Chris Carter asked if the request for public information was because of the family, he was told no.

Smith was assigned to the 123rd Engine Battalion out of Macomb. He was supposed to leave Galesburg and travel to Macomb for his final drill, but never made it.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Halsne said.

Smith’s fellow soldiers describe him as a “high quality soldier” and told TV6 they are “heartbroken over his passing.”

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts or activities of Tyler on the 14th or 15th of September please contact the Galesburg Police Department at (309) 343-9151 or call Crime Stoppers at (309) 344-0044

You can also text a tip to Crime Stoppers at 274637 keyword "Galesburg"