Body found on Rockton Road leads to arrest for murder


The suspect was arrested Saturday morning on North Main Street in Rockford. Photo: Google Street View

About 7:30 a.m. Saturday, July 23, 2022, the Roscoe Police Department was called to the 5100 block of East Rockton Road, near Ecolab, to investigate a woman found dead behind the business there. 

Suspecting murder, the Roscoe Police enlisted the help of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department. The woman was identified as 38-year-old Ashley Hardin, who had been reported missing less than three hours earlier, under suspicious circumstances, from the 300 block of Cole Avenue in Rockford. The Rockford Police Department determined that 46-year-old Rayshawn Smith, Hardin's ex-boyfriend, was a person of interest in her disappearance.

After a joint murder investigation by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, the Rockford Police Department, and the Roscoe Police Department, Rayshawn Smith was arrested shortly before 11:00 a.m. in the 300 block of North Main Street in Rockford. The Winnebago County States Attorney’s Office charged Smith with first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated unlawful restraint. Smith is being held in the Winnebago County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

In a Facebook video recorded before his arrest, Smith calmly blamed Hardin and others for what he himself had done, claiming that he had been "upfront" about his violent criminal background when they began their relationship.

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