Joliet man who killed mother, dumped body in river pleads guilty to murder

June 12

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that a Joliet man who choked his mother to death and dumped her body in the Des Plaines River near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam pleaded guilty Monday just as jury selection for his trial was scheduled to begin.

Shane Smith, 36, of the 1600 block of Black Road, pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder for killing Joan Smith at her house during an argument on Oct. 13, 2013. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes on Aug. 22. As part of the blind plea, prosecutors have agreed not to recommend a sentence longer than 35 years in prison.

Smith, who lived with his mother, had been drinking and fishing near the Brandon Road Lock with his wife on the day of the argument. Joan Smith would not allow her son’s wife to live in her house because of frequent arguments between the couple.

The dispute with his mother began when Shane Smith attempted to sneak his wife into the house that evening. Joan Smith told her to leave. Shane Smith left as well, but her returned alone later that evening and began arguing with his mother. During that dispute, he choked his mother to death, placed her body in a garbage bag and drove her to the Brandon Road Lock. He dropped her body in the river where it was discovered downstream several days later.

Shane Smith, who also discarded the jeans he had been wearing during the murder in the river, told his wife what he had done. She made a statement to Joliet police, who recovered the jeans. Investigators also matched DNA from the victim with hair that was found on her driveway near the wheel of her vehicle.

State’s Attorney Glasgow thanked Joliet police for their excellent investigation as well as his prosecutors, Mark Fleszewski, Katheryn Tinich, and Tom Slazyk, who had prepared a strong case for trial.