Rayna Rison

The Tragic Story of Rayna Rison: A Case That Shook a Community


The disappearance and subsequent murder of Rayna Rison is a tragic tale that shook the small community of LaPorte, Indiana. This case, marked by mystery, heartbreak, and a long quest for justice, remains a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of community vigilance. This article delves into the life of Rayna Rison, the details of her case, and the impact it had on her community and beyond.

Who Was Rayna Rison?

Early Life

Rayna Rison was a bright and vivacious 16-year-old girl. Born and raised in LaPorte, Indiana, she was known for her caring nature and love for animals, which she hoped to turn into a career as a veterinarian.

Hobbies and Interests

Rayna was an active teenager involved in numerous extracurricular activities. She enjoyed playing the clarinet in the school band, participating in church youth groups, and working part-time at the Pine Lake Animal Hospital.

The Disappearance

The Night She Went Missing

On the evening of March 26, 1993, Rayna finished her shift at the animal hospital and headed home. She was supposed to meet her sister at a local ice cream shop but never arrived. Her car was later found abandoned, raising immediate concerns among her family and friends.

Initial Search Efforts

The search for Rayna began swiftly, with local authorities and volunteers scouring the area for any signs of the missing teenager. Posters, media appeals, and community vigils were held, but days turned into weeks with no leads.

The Discovery

Finding Rayna’s Body

On April 27, 1993, a month after her disappearance, Rayna’s body was discovered in a pond near Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area. Her death was ruled a homicide, devastating her family and the community.

Autopsy Results

The autopsy revealed that Rayna had been strangled. The case quickly turned into a murder investigation, but the trail was cold, and leads were scarce.

The Investigation

Early Suspects

In the early stages of the investigation, several suspects were considered, including acquaintances and local residents. However, the lack of concrete evidence made it difficult to make any arrests.

Years of Frustration

For years, the case remained unsolved. Despite numerous tips and continued efforts by law enforcement, Rayna’s family was left without answers, and the community struggled with the unresolved grief.

The Breakthrough

Reopening the Case

In 2008, advancements in forensic technology and renewed interest in the case led authorities to reopen the investigation. New techniques and fresh eyes on the evidence brought hope for a resolution.

Key Evidence

Investigators focused on new forensic analyses and reexamined old testimonies. This led them to a significant breakthrough in identifying potential suspects linked to the crime scene and previously overlooked details.

Arrest and Trial

The Arrest

In 2013, nearly two decades after Rayna’s murder, a former local resident named Robert Wayne Stokes was arrested and charged with her murder. Stokes had been an acquaintance of Rayna’s family and had previously been considered but not formally charged due to insufficient evidence.

The Trial

The trial revealed disturbing details about Stokes’ history and the events leading up to Rayna’s death. Witnesses and forensic evidence played crucial roles in building a case against him.

Verdict and Sentencing

In 2015, Robert Wayne Stokes was found guilty of Rayna Rison’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison. The verdict brought a sense of closure to Rayna’s family and the community, even though the pain of her loss remained.

Impact on the Community

Community Response

Rayna’s case had a profound impact on LaPorte and surrounding areas. The community rallied together, supporting her family and raising awareness about the importance of safety and vigilance.

Legacy of Rayna Rison

Rayna’s memory lives on through various initiatives, including scholarships in her name and community programs aimed at protecting children and preventing similar tragedies.

Lessons Learned

Importance of Forensic Advancements

The reopening of Rayna’s case and the eventual conviction of her murderer highlighted the critical role of advancements in forensic science in solving cold cases.

Community Involvement

The case underscored the importance of community involvement in solving crimes. The collective efforts of law enforcement, volunteers, and residents were crucial in keeping the case alive and seeking justice for Rayna.

Persistence in Seeking Justice

Rayna Rison’s case is a testament to the persistence required in seeking justice. Despite the years of frustration and dead ends, the determination of her family and investigators ultimately led to a resolution.


The tragic story of Rayna Rison is a haunting reminder of the fragility of life and the impact of violent crime on a community. While her life was cut short, the legacy of her case has left an indelible mark on LaPorte, inspiring ongoing efforts to protect and support vulnerable individuals. Rayna’s story is one of sorrow, resilience, and the unwavering quest for justice.

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Who was Rayna Rison?

Rayna Rison was a 16-year-old girl from LaPorte, Indiana, known for her bright personality and love for animals. She aspired to become a veterinarian.

What happened to Rayna Rison?

Rayna Rison disappeared on March 26, 1993. Her body was discovered a month later in a pond, and her death was ruled a homicide by strangulation.

Who was convicted of Rayna Rison’s murder?

In 2015, Robert Wayne Stokes was convicted of Rayna Rison’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

How did advancements in forensic science help solve the case?

Advancements in forensic technology allowed investigators to reexamine evidence, leading to new breakthroughs that identified the suspect and ultimately resulted in his conviction.

What impact did Rayna Rison’s case have on the community?

Rayna Rison’s case had a profound impact on the LaPorte community, leading to increased awareness about safety, community support initiatives, and the establishment of scholarships in her name.

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