Still searching

Lauren Spierer, who has been missing since June 3, 2011, is pictured with her parents Charlene and Robert. This June marks the fifth anniversary of her disappearance, with no current leads on the case. | Courtesy photo

Charlene Spierer said the same four words to her daughter every time they said goodbye, no matter what.

“I miss you already.”

She wrote the phrase on her Twitter account in December 2014, in between pleas to the person, or people, who know where her daughter is.

“I always told Lauren ‘I miss you already,’” she wrote. “I still do and always will.”

Lauren Spierer, the subject of an infamous Bloomington missing person case, has now been missing for five years. She disappeared in the early hours of June 3, 2011.

Her case was picked up by social media within two days of her disappearance and word spread fast. Search teams scoured Bloomington and its surrounding areas three times a day, every day. Soon, the searches were reduced to twice daily. People stopped showing up by the hundreds.

But Bloomington never forgot Lauren. The unsolved case hangs heavy over IU, a campus that has seen missing girls both before and after Lauren. Posters from the year she disappeared are still plastered on the insides of shop windows and on the occasional bulletin board.

Her blue eyes stare from the photo that accompanies the list of attributes that describe her. She’s 4’11, 90 pounds, blonde hair. The posters say she’s 20 years old. She would be 25 this year.

Despite thousands of tips and no leads, the Bloomington Police Department said in a statement Lauren disappearance “has never been considered or labeled a ‘cold case’ by the Department.”

Lauren’s parents, her IU community and the town of Bloomington all deserve to know what happened to her, the release reads.

The police have put an innumerable amount of hours into the Spierer case, and the department has dedicated more than 2,505 hours of overtime to her, the release said.

And BPD isn’t alone: the FBI, Indiana State Police, Indiana Conservation Officers, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, IU Police Department, the Indiana National Guard and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have also aided in the investigation.

“Even though it has been over 4.5 years since Lauren disappeared,” the police release reads, “The case continues to be a priority for the investigators assigned and there is work being done on the case literally every day.”

Charlene’s Twitter account exists only for Lauren news. She retweets news stories, asks people to follow the official Find Lauren Spierer account, @NewsOnLaurenS, begs anyone who knows information in 140 characters or less to please come forward.

“Every morning I wake up with the same question,” she wrote Feb. 13, 2014. “What can I do to help #FindLauren?”

On holidays, she tweets to Lauren directly: We miss you. We aren’t stopping. The holidays aren’t the same without you.

The BPD press release ends with a simple plea for tips and information about how to reach the police and access the Lauren Spierer hotline, before ending with the six words that have become a slogan for Spierer’s search: “Remember: Anything small could be big.”

Almost three years into her disappearance, on May 23, 2014, Charlene expressed doubt Lauren might be alive, though the words themselves are never uttered by her or her husband.

“I hope Lauren is in a better place,” she wrote. “I know my place is NOT better without her.”

A picture of missing IU student Lauren Spierer sit next to a poem dedicated to the search for her at a prayer and support event on Dec. 3, 2011 in front of Smallwood Plaza. | IDS File photo

Spierer timeline

June 3, 2011: Lauren Spierer is last seen at 4:30 a.m. walking south on College Avenue from 11th Street on her way back to her apartment at Smallwood Plaza.

June 4: Spierer’s parents fly to Indianapolis from their home in New York and drive to Bloomington. They search the several blocks around her apartment for clues, but none are found. Missing person flyers start being distributed.

June 5: Social media picks up the Spierer story; Twitter and Facebook accounts are created for information distribution. The first search team of around 20 meets at Smallwood Plaza and branch out to search the areas around local lakes.

June 6: Regular searches begin three times a day, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. Among the hundreds of volunteers are IU men’s basketball Coach Tom Crean and IU Hillel’s Rabbi Sue Silberberg. The IU Dean of Students sends faculty and students an alert of Lauren’s disappearance.

June 7: The Bloomington Police Department executes a search warrant in Smallwood Plaza, confiscating three computer towers and four CD cases. BPD confirms it has Lauren’s cellphone, found between her friend’s apartment and Smallwood. The Spierers speak at a press conference. A vigil takes place in Lauren’s hometown of Scarsdale, New York.

June 8: BPD announces excise police are looking into an investigation at Kilroy’s Sports Bar.

June 10: BPD sets up a traffic stop on North College Avenue to question traffic and pedestrians about Lauren’s disappearance.

June 11: America’s Most Wanted airs the Spierer search on national television.

June 12: The police announce its “persons of interest” for the case are cooperating.

June 13: Routine searches for Lauren are reduced from three to two daily. BPD is public about its investigation of a white Chevy truck that was near Lauren when she was last seen.

June 14: IU establishes a $50,000 fund to help with search expenses. BPD says it has conducted all preliminary interviews with persons of interest.

June 20: The white truck is no longer considered a part of the Spierer investigation.

June 24: Three weeks after Lauren’s disappearance, BPD Capt. Joe Qualters says this press briefing will be the last unless there is a break in the case.

June 28: Qualters announces the closure of the search headquarters for Lauren’s case. He says they’ve covered most of Monroe County and only 20 volunteers are showing up for daily searches now.

June 29: Daily searches for Lauren end.

July 3: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department recovers a body from Fall Creek. The body isn’t Lauren’s.

August 16: BPD officers, along with FBI agents and IU police officers, begin searching Sycamore Ridge Landfill in Pimento.

August 28: After nine days of sorting through more than 4,100 tons of trash, no new evidence is found from searching the landfill.

September 15: Kilroy’s Sports Bar is cited on two alcohol-related charges in relation to the night Lauren Spierer disappeared.

September 22: The “Shine 4 Lauren” benefit concert brings further awareness to the case. The Spierers remain in Bloomington.

September 25: The Spierers hire their own team of private investigators to assist in the case.

October 9: Brice Fox and Daniel Weber, artists of the popular “This is Indiana,” release a song written for Lauren.

November 3: Volunteers organize “P.U.M.P 4 Lauren” “putting up more posters for Lauren” after the Spierer parents receive an anonymous letter requesting they stop “littering” Bloomington with the missing posters.

December 1: For the six-month anniversary of Lauren’s disappearance, a prayer and support tree are placed in Fountain Square Mall for one month to bring awareness to the case.

February 24, 2012: The Spierer family increases the reward money for information about Lauren from $100,000 to $250,000.

April 4: Remains found in Newtown, Illinois, on March 10 are determined to not be Lauren’s or linked to her case.

July 8: A human skull is found in the White River in Indianapolis. Weeks later, it’s announced it has no connection to Lauren’s case.

September 6: Indianapolis police discover a body in an apartment complex in Indy, but it is again a dead end in the Spierer case.

April 28, 2013: A volunteer crew restores the “missing” posters around Bloomington in an attempt to refresh the search for Lauren.

June 3, 2013: After two years and 3,060 tips, there are no leads in the Spierer case.

June 27, 2013: Lauren’s parents file a lawsuit against Corey Rossman, Jason Rosenbaum and Michael Beth for “negligence resulting in the disappearance, death or injury of an adult child.”

January 22, 2014: Rossman and Rosenbaum deny allegations of lawsuit.

September 31: A federal judge dismisses the negligence suit against Rossman and Rosenbaum.

April 24, 2015: IU student Hannah Wilson is declared missing and soon found murdered. The Spierer case is determine to be unrelated.

January 28, 2016: The Indianapolis office of the FBI and BPD carries out an investigation in Martinsville they confirm is related to Lauren’s disappearance. They search the home of Justin Wagers, a registered sex offender currently serving time in the Johnson County Jail. Another home in Trafalar, Indiana, might have been searched by the BPD but it didn’t confirm. No further information was released following these searches.

April 26, 2016: Human remains are found in southwest Bloomington, and forensic anthropologists said they didn’t suspect foul play. BPD Capt. Steve Kellams said “there’s no indication that this would be Lauren Spierer,” but little is known about the race, gender or age of the person found.

June 3, 2016: The five-year anniversary of Lauren’s disappearance.

Courtesy photo

Who's who in the Spierer case

Lauren Spierer: An IU student who went missing June 3, 2011. At the time, she was 20 years old and a junior at the University. She is from Scarsdale, New York, and was last seen at 4:30 a.m. at the intersection of 11th Street and College Ave.

Robert Spierer: Lauren’s dad. He and her mom flew in the day after Lauren’s disappearance to aid in the search, but left Bloomington after several months of searching.

Charlene Spierer: Lauren’s mom. She keeps a Twitter account she uses to share information about the Spierer case, spread awareness and plead with whoever knows where Lauren is to finally come forward and tell the truth.

Rebecca Spierer: Lauren’s older sister.

Capt. Joe Qualters: The BPD spokesperson for the Spierer case.

Lt. Bill Parker: A lead investigator at BPD for the Spierer case.

Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg: The executive director of the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center at the time. She was one of the first volunteers and leaders in searches.

Corey Rossman: An acquaintance of Lauren’s who was with her when she was going from Kilroy’s Sports Bar to Smallwood Plaza. He cooperated with BPD when he was a person of interest in the case. Rossman reportedly was involved in an altercation at Smallwood, at which point Lauren took him back to his apartment at 11th and Morton streets.

Jesse Wolff: Lauren’s boyfriend and another person of interest in the case. Wolff filed the missing persons report for Lauren.

Carl Salzmann: Rossman’s attorney and a former Monroe County District Attorney. He told the press Rossman had been drinking and was punched in the face during the alleged altercation at Smallwood.

Mike Beth: Rossman’s roommate. A person of interest in the case. The media have reported he was the last person to see Lauren at the intersection of 11th Street and College Avenue.

Ron Chapman: Beth’s lawyer.

Jay Rosenbaum: Rossman and Beth’s friend who was reportedly at Rossman and Beth’s apartment complex the night Lauren disappeared. He’s been a person of interest in the case.

Jill Behrman
Crystal Grubb
Hannah Wilson

Other women who have gone missing

Jill Behrman

Behrman, 19, was an IU sophomore when she went missing May 31, 2000. Her body was found March 9, 2003 by a hunter in Morgan County, about 100 feet off Warthen Road. She was on a bike ride at the time she went missing, and John Robert Myers II was sentenced for Behrman’s murder in 2006. He reportedly knowingly and intentionally killed her. Behrman probably would have majored in IU’s School of Public Health, according to her father.

Crystal Grubb

Grubb, 29, went missing Sept. 18, 2010, and was found dead just weeks later on Oct. 1 in a corn field in northern Monroe County off North Showers Road. She died of head injuries, according to the autopsy. Grubb was reportedly last seen by her boyfriend and two other men. She had two daughters, Abby and Rose, six and two, respectively, at the time of Grubb’s death. There were no arrests made in connection to the murder. Now, every year on Oct. 1, Grubb’s mother organizes a walk to honor her memory.

Hannah Wilson

Wilson, 22, was finishing her senior year at IU when she went missing during the 2015 Little 500 weekend. She was found dead in Brown County on April 24, the same day she was declared missing.

Bloomington police arrested Daniel Messel and charged him with the murder of Wilson the following day. He is currently being held in the Brown County jail awaiting his trial. Wilson majored in psychology and planned on pursuing a career in sex therapy.