WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Western Illinois Prison Guards Indicted in Prisoner Beating Death

Dec 6, 2019

The FBI and Illinois State Police on Thursday arrested three men who work as correctional officers at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mt. Sterling. 

The men are charged in connection with a fatal attack on an inmate:

  • Lieutenant Todd Sheffler, 51, of Mendon, Charged with Conspiracy to Deprive Civil Rights, Deprivation of Civil Rights, Conspiracy to Engage in Misleading Conduct, Obstruction – Falsification of a Document, Obstruction – Misleading Conduct.
  • Sergeant Willie Hedden, 41, of Mt. Sterling. Charged with Conspiracy to Deprive Civil Rights, Deprivation of Civil Rights, Conspiracy to Engage in Misleading Conduct, Obstruction – Falsification of a Document, Obstruction – Misleading Conduct, Obstruction – Destruction of A Record or Other Object and Misleading Conduct.
  • Officer Alex Banta, 28, of Quincy. Charged with Conspiracy to Deprive Civil Rights, Deprivation of Civil Rights, Conspiracy to Engage in Misleading Conduct, Obstruction – Falsification of a Document, Obstruction – Misleading Conduct.

John Milhiser, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, said the three assaulted prisoner Larry Earvin, 65, who was restrained and handcuffed behind his back at the time. Earvin, who was being escorted to another unit, suffered broken ribs, a punctured colon, and other serious injuries.

The indictment states each of the correctional officers filed false incident reports following the attack, which happened on May, 17, 2018.  The document states Hedden and Banta used identical language in their false reports.

Earvin died in June 2018, a few months before he would have been eligible for parole.

Milhiser said the Sheffler, Hedden, and Banta appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough Friday morning for arraignment.

Their initial trial date is scheduled for February 4, 2020.