Disappearance of Lauren Spierer

Lauren Spierer (born January 17, 1991) is an American woman who disappeared on June 3, 2011, following an evening at Kilroy's Sports Bar in Bloomington, Indiana. At the time, Spierer was a 20-year-old student at Indiana University. Though her disappearance generated national press coverage, Spierer is presumed dead and her case remains unsolved.[2]

Lauren Spierer
Born(1991-01-17)January 17, 1991[1]
DisappearedJune 3, 2011 (aged 20)
Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.
StatusMissing for 12 years, 8 months and 9 days

History edit

Lauren Spierer was born January 17, 1991, to Charlene and Robert Spierer; her father was an accountant. She grew up in Scarsdale, New York, an affluent town in lower Westchester County.[3][4][5] Spierer graduated from Edgemont High School in 2009 and enrolled at Indiana University, where she was studying textiles merchandising.[6][7] Spierer was active in the Jewish community at IU and had spent the previous spring break planting trees in Israel on behalf of the Jewish National Fund.[8]

Spierer met her boyfriend, Jesse Wolff, and her friend, Jay Rosenbaum, years earlier at Camp Towanda, a summer camp in the mountain town of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It was there she also met various other future IU students who later became Spierer's circle of friends when she enrolled at IU in 2009.[9][10]

Disappearance edit

On the night she disappeared, Spierer was drinking with several friends. Wolff stated that he did not go out with Spierer or her friends that evening, texting back and forth with Spierer before he went to bed.[11] According to witnesses, Spierer was very intoxicated.[9] Bloomington police used video surveillance footage and witness statements to create a timeline of Spierer's whereabouts before her disappearance.[12]

Timeline edit

The timestamps in bold indicate surveillance footage. The other times mentioned are on the basis of witness statements.

Friday, June 3, 2011

  • 12:30 a.m. – Witnesses report that Spierer left her apartment with a friend named David Rohn. The pair went to Jay Rosenbaum's apartment, and she met up with Corey Rossman, Rosenbaum's neighbor.[12]
  • 1:46 a.m. – Spierer is seen entering Kilroy's Sports Bar.[12]
  • 2:27 a.m. – Spierer is seen exiting the bar with Rossman. Spierer left her cell phone and shoes at the bar. She had taken off her shoes when she walked out onto the sand-covered patio. Rossman walked with Spierer to her apartment complex.[9][12]
  • 2:30 a.m. – Spierer is seen entering Smallwood Plaza apartments, where her residence is located. A passerby named Zach Oakes noticed her level of inebriation and asked if she was okay.[9][12][13]
  • 2:48 a.m. – After she left the apartments, Spierer entered an alley that runs between College Avenue and Morton Street. Security cameras mounted on nearby apartments show her exit the alley at 2:51 a.m. and walk toward an empty lot. Spierer's keys and purse were found along this route through the alley. Spierer and Rossman arrived at Rossman's apartment shortly afterward. Michael Beth, Rossman's roommate, was at the apartment. Rossman himself was very intoxicated and stumbling. He vomited on the carpet on the way upstairs. Beth stated that he escorted Rossman to bed. He then tried to persuade Spierer to sleep over for her own safety. He claimed Spierer said she wanted to return to her own apartment.[9][12]
  • 3:30 a.m. – Beth said he then phoned his neighbor, Rosenbaum, wanting him to take care of Spierer. Beth said that Spierer was attempting to get Beth to drink with her at her own apartment. She eventually went to Rosenbaum's apartment, where he observed a bruise under her eye, presumably sustained in a fall earlier that evening. She told him she didn't know how she got the bruise. Two calls were placed from Rosenbaum's phone shortly before she is reported to have left. Rosenbaum said Spierer placed both calls, one to Rohn and one to another friend. Neither picked up, and no messages were left.[9][12]
  • 4:30 a.m. – Rosenbaum reports that Spierer left the apartment. This is the last reported sighting of her. He reported last seeing Spierer at the intersection of 11th Street and College Avenue, headed south on College. She was last seen barefoot, wearing black leggings and a white shirt.[9][12][14]
  • Several hours later that morning, Wolff sent Spierer a text. He received a reply from an employee at the bar. Wolff reported Spierer missing.[15]

Investigation edit

In August 2011, police conducted a nine-day search of the Sycamore Ridge Landfill in Pimento (south of Terre Haute) for clues in the disappearance. The landfill is where trash from Bloomington is hauled after a stop at a transfer station. The Bloomington Police Department, the Indiana University Police Department, and the FBI took part in the search.[16][17] As of May 24, 2013, investigators had received 3,060 tips on Spierer's disappearance, 100 of them received during the first half of 2013.[18]

In April 2015, the Bloomington Police announced that they were investigating a possible link between Spierer's disappearance and the murder of another IU student, Hannah Wilson. Wilson went missing on April 24, 2015, after visiting Kilroy's, the same bar that Spierer visited the night she disappeared. Wilson was last seen getting into a taxi in front of the bar and driving away. Her body was found the next morning in Brown County. A local man named Daniel Messel was arrested for the murder after his cell phone was discovered near the body.[19] In July 2015, it was concluded that the two cases are unrelated and any similarities between the two cases were coincidental.

On January 28, 2016, the FBI and other police agencies investigated a property in the 2900 block of Old Morgantown Road in Martinsville, approximately 20 miles (32 km) north of Bloomington. According to a statement released by the FBI, investigators were "following up on leads and tips in Morgan County regarding the disappearance of Lauren Spierer." The property was connected to a man, Justin Wagers, who resided there with his mother and stepfather. Wagers was suspected of exposing himself to numerous local women.[20][21]

Investigators searched the property with cadaver dogs, which indicated potential evidence. Anthropologists conducted a dig and sifted dirt from the barn where the cadaver dogs hit, but found nothing.[22][23] Investigators also towed a white truck from the property belonging to Wagers.[20][21]

Theories edit

A number of theories have emerged in reference to what happened to Spierer that evening. Spierer's parents have stated that they believe their daughter is dead. Based on her level of intoxication, they also felt that she may have been drugged while at the bar. "We felt somebody could have slipped something into her drink at Kilroy's," said Robert Spierer. The family has voiced suspicions about the men she was with that evening, as well as Wolff, since they refused to take police-issued polygraphs and retained lawyers soon after Spierer's disappearance. While the parents have not made any specific accusations, they do believe the two know more than they have told police so far.[24] The men responded that they have taken privately administered polygraphs, as well as one from the FBI.[5] Since they do not trust the Bloomington police, they say, they have retained lawyers.[25]

Accidental overdose edit

Regarding Spierer's level of intoxication, her friends and Wolff told police that she used drugs in addition to alcohol on the night leading up to her disappearance. Wolff's mother alleged that Spierer was asked to leave the summer camp where she met her son and Rosenbaum years earlier because of drug use. "This poor little girl is not with us today because of her drug abuse," she said.[25] On September 2, 2010, nine months before her disappearance, Spierer was arrested on charges of public intoxication and illegal consumption.[26][27] After her disappearance, police found a "small amount of cocaine" in her room.[28]

Rosenbaum told investigators that Spierer consumed alcohol, snorted cocaine and crushed up Klonopin tablets that evening. Her rare heart condition—long QT syndrome—added to the danger of drug use.[29] Police addressed rumors that implied Spierer may have overdosed and those with her may have hidden her body to avoid criminal charges.[30] Bo Dietl, a private investigator hired by the Spierer family, doubts that a fatal drug overdose could be enough motive to hide her death; he cited the prevalence of drug abuse on the IU campus. "Every kid's buying pot, cocaine, drinking, pills," he said. "I mean, it's all over the place. So that really can't be the motive behind it."[9][29]

Stranger abduction edit

The police have also acknowledged they have not ruled out other possibilities, such as abduction by a stranger.[30] Spierer's parents have previously stated that they do not believe her disappearance was a random abduction.[31]

Daniel Messel edit

In 2017, Brown County prosecutor Ted Adams reported he believed Daniel Messel could be connected to Spierer's disappearance. In 2016, Messel was convicted of killing another IU student, Hannah Wilson, in 2015. Wilson had only been reported missing for one day when her body was found in a desolate field; she had been bludgeoned to death. Messel's cell phone was discovered at her feet.[32] Messel has never been charged in connection with Spierer's case.[33]

Civil lawsuits edit

Spierer's parents filed civil lawsuits against Rossman, Rosenbaum, and Beth for their involvement with their daughter leading up to her disappearance. The suits accused the defendants of negligence, alleging they supplied Spierer with alcohol after she was already "visibly intoxicated," then neglected to assure she returned safely to her apartment, which likely led to her death.[34] The family stated they hoped the lawsuit would lead to the defendants admitting more information about what occurred the night of Spierer's disappearance. "I truly don't think it was a random abduction, I think that somebody that Lauren knew was responsible for the events of that evening," Spierer's mother said. As part of the suit, they subpoenaed private cell phone and academic records spanning 134 days before and after the night Spierer disappeared, a move the defendants’ lawyers labeled a "fishing expedition."[35]

In 2013, federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt dismissed the suit against Beth after determining he had no duty of care for Spierer.[36][37]

In 2014, Pratt dismissed the suit against the other two men, finding: "...there could be any number of theories as to what happened to Lauren and what, if any, injuries she may have sustained. Without evidence to prove these theories, it would be impossible for a jury to determine if whatever happened to Spierer was a natural and probable consequence of her intoxication, without any other intervening acts that would break the causal chain."[38][39] Spierer's parents appealed the ruling, but the dismissal was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2015.[40][41][42] Lawyers for the men have stated that their clients have cooperated fully with police and the private investigators hired by the Spierer family, and that all of them have passed private polygraphs. "They've been interviewed and interviewed and interviewed, and to say they've been less than forthcoming is just not accurate," said Chapman, who represents Beth and Rohn.[9][11] To date, none of the defendants have been named as suspects in Spierer's disappearance.[43]

In the media edit

The HLN show, Real Life Nightmare, detailed the Lauren Spierer case in an hourlong episode called "Night of No Return.[44]” Spierer's case has been covered in multiple podcasts, including: Crime Junkie, True Crime Garage, Going West: True Crime, True Crime All The Time Unsolved, Trace Evidence, and Not Another True Crime Podcast.[45][46][47][48][49][50]

The intense press coverage of the disappearance has been dubbed an example of missing white woman syndrome, a phenomenon wherein the news media disproportionately covers missing-person cases that involve young, white, upper-middle class females.[51][52][53] The Indiana Daily Student, IU's student paper, ran a story that documented the disparity between their own coverage of Spierer's disappearance and their coverage of another local disappearance, Crystal Grubb, 29, who was also white but came from a working-class family wherein many relatives had criminal histories. Following Grubb's disappearance in 2010, the Daily Student ran a total of seven stories on the case compared to multiple front-page articles and the extensive national awareness of the Spierer case.[54][55]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Tonsing, Abby (February 24, 2012). "Lauren Spierer case: Parents offering $250,000 reward for information". Herald Times Online.
  2. ^ "Lauren Spierer Still Missing, Family Pleading for Answers – WBIW". 3 June 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
  3. ^ "Lauren Spierer case: Men say parents' requests too broad". Lohud.com. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  4. ^ Corbin, Cristina (1 June 2013). "Two years later, mystery surrounds disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer - Fox News". Foxnews.com. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b West, Evan (2012-05-30). "The Lauren Spierer Mystery, Unraveled". Indianapolis Monthly.
  6. ^ Brice, Diana (October 4, 2011). "Edgemont Still Hopes Lauren Spierer Will Be Found". The Greenburgh Daily Voice.
  7. ^ Lohr, David (June 3, 2013). "Lauren Spierer Update: Two Years, 3,060 Tips And No Sign Of Missing College Student". The Huffington Post.
  8. ^ Tobin, Andrew (June 16, 2011). "Jewish Groups Spearhead Effort To Find Missing Indiana University Student". The Jewish Daily forward.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cohen, Shawn (June 4, 2012). "Lauren Spierer mystery: New accounts say she staggered away after night of heavy drinking, drug use". The Journal News. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012.
  10. ^ "Friends of Lauren Spierer Reflect, Take Action". USA Today. November 10, 2011. Archived from the original on 14 November 2011.
  11. ^ a b Cohen, Shawn (June 3, 2011). "Missing student's beau's parents fume at cops, media". USA Today.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Tonsing, Abby (June 16, 2011). "Lauren Spierer search: Timeline, map of missing IU student's last known whereabouts released by Bloomington police". Herald Times Online. Archived from the original on July 20, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  13. ^ Corbin, Cristina (June 1, 2013). "Two years later, mystery surrounds disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer". Fox News.
  14. ^ Tonsing, Abby (16 June 2011). "Lauren Spierer search: Timeline, map of missing IU student's last known whereabouts released by Bloomington police". The Herald Times. Bloomington, IN. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  15. ^ Wang, Stephanie (May 31, 2013). "Timeline: The search for Lauren Spierer". Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014.
  16. ^ Tonsing, Abby (16 August 2011). "Lauren Spierer search: Landfill search started by Bloomington police". The Herald Times. Bloomington, Indiana. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  17. ^ Tonsing, Abby (26 August 2011). "Lauren Spierer case: No clues found as landfill search concludes". The Herald Times. Bloomington, Indiana. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  18. ^ lohr, david (June 3, 2013). "Lauren Spierer Update: Two Years, 3,060 Tips And No Sign Of Missing College Student". The Huffington Post.
  19. ^ "Police probe link between murdered student, disappearance of Lauren Spierer". Fox News Chicago. April 28, 2015. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015.
  20. ^ a b "FBI confirms link to Spierer case in Martinsville raid". idsnews.com. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  21. ^ a b Mahadeo, Rafael Sanchez, Brittany Lewis, Todd Connor, Melissa (29 January 2016). "Nothing found during FBI search in Martinsville in connection to Lauren Spierer disappearance". theindychannel.com. Retrieved 29 June 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "FBI raid of properties in Martinsville and Trafalgar connected to Lauren Spierer investigation". WTHR. 28 January 2016. Archived from the original on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  23. ^ "FBI, Bloomington police investigate Martinsville property in ongoing Lauren Spierer investigation". FOX 59. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  24. ^ Cohen, Shawn (April 24, 2012). "Parents believe missing Indiana student is no longer alive". USA Today.
  25. ^ a b "Missing student's beau's parents fume at cops, media". USA Today. 3 June 2013.
  26. ^ Tonsing, Abby (30 June 2011). "Who's who in the Lauren Spierer case". heraldtimesonline.com. The Herald-Times. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  27. ^ Brian Ross; Brian Epstein (24 June 2016). "5 Years After She Vanished, New Hope in Lauren Spierer Case". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. Retrieved 29 June 2016. The 20-year-old had been arrested for public intoxication nine months before her disappearance...
  28. ^ Brian Ross; Brian Epstein (24 June 2016). "5 Years After She Vanished, New Hope in Lauren Spierer Case". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  29. ^ a b Tonsing, Abby; Mullins, Christy (July 18, 2011). "Police: Cocaine use a problem, and not just among IU students". Herald Times. Archived from the original on September 14, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Did Lauren Spierer die of a drug overdose?". WDRB. June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on July 8, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  31. ^ Truesdell, Jeff (2015-04-27). "Murder of Indiana University Student and Lauren Spierer Mystery 'Eerily Similar,' Cops Say". People.
  32. ^ Buckley, Madeline. "Hannah Wilson trial: A night of celebration gone horribly wrong". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  33. ^ "Lauren Spierer's family still searching 9 years after her disappearance". WRTV. 2020-06-03. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  34. ^ "Lauren Spierer | Suit over IU student's disappearance allowed to stand in part". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  35. ^ Wilson, Charles D. (April 22, 2014). "Spierer friends say parents' request was too broad". WTHR Indianapolis. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  36. ^ Lin, Jashin (December 2, 2013). "Judge Dismisses Case Against One Man In Lauren Spierer Suit". Indiana public media. Archived from the original on August 12, 2017. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  37. ^ Disis, Jill. "Judge dismisses lawsuit in Ind. co-ed's disappearance". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  38. ^ Nguyen, Hoa (October 1, 2014). "Lauren Spierer's parents' suit tossed out by federal judge". The Journal News.
  39. ^ Spierer v. Rossman, Case No. 1:13-cv-00991-TWP-TAB (S.D. Ind. 2014-09-30).
  40. ^ Guerra, Kristine (October 3, 2014). "Lauren Spierer's parents appeal negligence suit in daughter's disappearance". Indianapolis Star.
  41. ^ Coyne, Matt (August 14, 2015). "Lauren Spierer's parents fall short in appeals court". The Indy Star.
  42. ^ Spierer v. Rossman, 798 F.3d 502 (7th Cir. 2015-08-14).
  43. ^ "Lauren Spierer's Parents' Lawsuit Against Men Last Seen With Daughter Goes To Federal Court". Huffington Post. 2013-06-27.
  44. ^ "'HLN Investigations' documentary details the disappearance of Lauren Spierer". wthr.com. 14 December 2019. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  45. ^ "MISSING: Lauren Spierer". Crime Junkie Podcast. 2019-09-30. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  46. ^ "Lauren Spierer /// Episodes 91 /// 92". truecrimegarage.com. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  47. ^ "Going West: True Crime - Lauren Spierer // 34 on Stitcher". Stitcher. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  48. ^ "True Crime All The Time Unsolved - Podcast". Global Player. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  49. ^ "003 - The Vanishing of Lauren Spierer". Trace Evidence. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  50. ^ "Not Another True Crime Podcast: Where Is Lauren Spierer?". natcp.libsyn.com. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  51. ^ Longnecker, Emily (September 25, 2021). "Indianapolis woman speaks about search for mother, says more needs to be done to help find missing people of color". WTHR. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  52. ^ Davis, Victoria (June 19, 2014). "Hidden Identities". Indianapolis Reporter.
  53. ^ Barton, Robin (August 22, 2011). "The "Missing White Woman Syndrome"".
  54. ^ Majchrowicz, Michael (November 9, 2011). "Beyond the posters: How demographics factored in Spierer, Grubb cases". Indiana Daily Student. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014.
  55. ^ Cohen, Shawn (June 8, 2011). "Another Bloomington mystery: Killer never found for other woman who went missing". The Journal News. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011.

External links edit