honors fallen ISP offficer
Trooper William R. Rayner remembered
The official announcement designating
a portion of Interstate 74 near mile marker 138 as the Trooper
William Rayner Memorial Highway was made on the Decatur
County Courthouse steps on Monday, June 8 by State Representative
It is my honor to present this, Duncan told the family
of the slain officer as they gathered. She said it was an overdue
honor, a long-awaited one that she was proud to be a part of.
I am humbled to be a part of remembering Trooper Rayner,
who was a loyal public servant that made the ultimate sacrifice.
Duncan, along with representatives Scott Reske and Vern Tincher,
introduced Resolution No. 13 with State Senators Jean Leising
and Johnny Nugent, sponsoring the resolution. It was adopted on
January 27 of this year during the first regular session of the
116th General Assembly.
The marker has been erected as a permanent tribute to Rayner,
who was killed December 18, 1966 during a routine traffic stop
in Decatur County.
That night changed the lives of many people. Instead of making
plans for Christmas, a young widow found herself making plans
for her husbands funeral. Rayners wife, Rheadawn,
was left to raise three children, ages 5, 7 months. and one on
the way, according to Ripley Publishing Co. files.
Rheadawn spoke at the event on Monday, saying her husband was
a great man. Surrounded by family members, she said, Even
though weve had tragedy, weve got a great family.
She thanked everyone for coming, and in her typical gracious style
did not dwell on the past, but instead focused on others who made
the honor possible. She thanked Rep. Duncan and the two shared
As officers do every day, Trooper Rayner stopped a car that fateful
night for running without taillights. What happened next would
shock the law enforcement community. A gun battle ensued with
Rayner being fatally wounded. They would later find out that the
car was stolen, and the two inside were escapees from a Kentucky
detention facility. Both had extensive criminal records.
Having graduated from Milan High School in 1954, Rayner had been
an Indiana State Trooper for eight years, assigned to the Versailles
Post. Those who had the privilege of working with him were devastated
with the news. Hugh Chambers, now retired from the Indiana State
Police, was close to Rayner and his family. He told The Versailles
Republican he was in Terre Haute when he received the call. I
dont remember that long drive back, he noted, recalling
how he started for home.
Retired Trooper Noel Houze Sr. said he practically lived
with them" (the Rayner family) while in training. He said
his fellow trooper, Rayner, and mentor was a man of honor. Retired
State Police Detective John Mann shared memories of that cold
night that changed everybodys lives forever describing
Rayner as a wonderful trooper - elite.
Saying the death of Trooper Rayner was one of the hardest things
theyve ever dealt with, officers said guys like the fallen
trooper made the Versailles Post the best in the State. They even
shared some humor about him, saying his nick name was Prince.
His widow agreed, saying, He was my Prince.
Trooper Rayner was the 19th Indiana State Trooper to be killed
in the line of duty. Norman Huelson was the commander of the Versailles
State Police Post at the time and described Rayner as a devoted
and outstanding police officer.
The resolution reads in part: Trooper William R. Rayner
is an American hero who gave his life in service to our state
and country and deserves special recognition.
That statement was echoed by officers attending the ceremony held
Above: State Representative Cleo Duncan
reads the resolution honoring the late Trooper William Rayner
to his widow, Rheadawn Rayner Metz who is surrounded by
family on the courthouse steps in Decatur County. Below:
Retired Trooper Noel Houze Sr. spoke to the character of
the slain officer, and shared his memories as he reached
out to his widow at a ceremony held Monday, June 8.