Illinois State Police denies FOIA in teacher highway death probe

The daughters of a Quad City teacher found dead on Interstate 88 one month ago, say they are still in the dark about what happened to their father and why he wasn’t found sooner.

The body of Lee Catlin, 65, of Bettendorf was found along the highway on November 13, 2013. His car was found about a mile away, the cause of his death has not been released.

Catlin was found 12 hours after two callers reported seeing a man in distress, waving his arms, laying by the side of the road.

A spokesperson for his family released a statement Monday, saying, “Our family is very saddened by this tragedy. We are just trying to find out what happened to our father, so that another family will not have to experience the same.”

Meanwhile, a request by at least two media outlets for more information on a timeline and how the case was handled has been denied.

On December 13, WQAD asked for transcripts of radio transmissions in the case. Lt. Steve Lyddon, the Illinois State Police Freedom of Information Officer, denied the request.

The denial stated that the case is under criminal investigation and the information requested could deprive a person of a fair trial.

A similar request by Sauk Valley News, which initially acquired audio of the 9-1-1 tapes, was also denied.

The tapes reveal that two motorists called police about a man waving his arms in distress, laying on the side of the highway. The first caller was a trucker who relayed the mile marker and location of the man.

Sixteen minutes later, a second caller gave a similar description and location, the dispatcher telling him they had someone on the way.

He was eventually found 12 hours later nearby by a highway worker.

The Lee County coroner has not released a preliminary cause of death.

Last week, Illinois State Police spokesperson Monique Bond told Sauk Valley News the cause of Catlin’s death was “alcohol-related,” but later backed off that statement, saying lab tests have not come in yet.

Bond also told WQAD that an internal investigation would not be conducted into how the case was handled,  because the call was properly dispatched that night and came back unfounded.

3 comments

  • DJ

    The ISP is too secretive as far as their records go. They sometimes act like they are the CIA and won’t provide information to the public that the public has a right to know, such as in this case. Radio transmissions and trooper activity logs for those assigned to work the area in question on that particular day would certainly help to figure out who dropped the ball.

  • Mel

    Why didn’t someone stop to help when they saw him waving his arms? That doesn’t make any sense. This needless tragedy could have been avoided, and now the family must try and find the answers.

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