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003 - The Vanishing of Lauren Spierer

[Case Evidence]

Lauren Spierer was a twenty year old college sophomore when she mysteriously disappeared. Despite multiple witnesses spotting her on the last night she was seen, including footage from surveillance cameras, and direct statements from friends with whom she spent large portions of the night with, she seemingly vanished into thin air. Of course, when digging deeper into the details of the case, and what is known of Lauren, her friends and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, what once seems like a straight forward case quickly becomes a convoluted mess of contradictions and secrets.

Lauren was raised in Scarsdale, a town of 17,000 in Westchester County, NY. According to friends and family, Lauren was a sharp young woman who, the summer prior to her disappearance, had spent her time planting trees in Israel. Lauren had attended Camp Towanda, a co-ed sleepaway camp located in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. At Camp Towanda, Lauren met several people with whom she would attend Indiana University. It was here that she met Jesse Wolff, her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, as well as Jay Rosenbaum, the last person to see her alive.
At Indiana University, in Bloomington, Lauren was studying textiles and merchandising. Lauren was a petite girl, standing just 4’11” and weighing in at 95lbs. She had striking blue eyes and light blond hair. For all intents and purposes, Lauren seemed to be doing well at balancing her school life with her social life. She shared an apartment in the Smallwood Plaza with her roommate Hadar Tamir.

What is known about the night Lauren vanished is pieced together by witness statements, surveillance camera footage and the results of police and private investigation. This case involves several different individuals, and it would be easiest to address each person as they come into the story by way of the official timeline of events.

It should be noted, there is a lot of debate and speculations regarding Lauren’s drinking and possible drug use. At this particular point in time, it’s nearly impossible to get an exact answer as to whether or not Lauren was a casual or habitual user of drugs, or if she used them at all. Lauren’s parents have adamantly argued that Lauren did not have a drug problem, while the parents of her then boyfriend, as well as friends, have stated otherwise. What cannot be argued is that on the evening she disappeared, Lauren was witnessed consuming alcohol and this may have played a role in her disappearance. Lauren’s parents stated that she had a heart condition known as Long QT Syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic: Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a heart rhythm condition that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats might trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, the heart can beat erratically for so long that it causes sudden death. This condition can become aggravated by the use of drugs and alcohol which can prove fatal.

According to the official timeline, late in the evening on June 2nd, 2011, Lauren dresses in a white tank top, white blouse and black leggings with plans to go out into downtown Bloomington. On this particular evening, Lauren is accompanied by David Rohn, a fellow student who lives in the same building. The two set out on a half mile walk from their building in Smallwood Plaza to 5 North Townhomes, another student apartment complex. Here they arrive at the apartment of Jay Rosenbaum and meet Cory Rossman, Rosenbaum’s neighbor.

David Rohn is a 19 year old University of Indiana student originally from Manhattan. In the wake of Lauren’s disappearance he is questioned by the FBI and submits to a polygraph test which he passes. According to Rohn, he returned to his apartment around 12:30am on June 3rd after spending time with Lauren and others at the 5 North Townhomes complex. According to the timeline, Rohn would have headed back to his apartment with Lauren remaining at the 5 North Townhomes complex.

According to the Bloomington Police Department, Lauren leaves the 5 North Townhomes complex and arrives at Kilroy’s Sports Bar at 1:46am. Lauren uses a fake ID to gain access to the bar. According to locals, the bar, commonly referred to as “Sports” has multiple bars inside, a large outdoor patio and two levels. Although Lauren is reported as arriving at Sports, there is no specification on whether or not she was alone and this seems to be somewhat of a topic of debate. What is known for certain is that at 2:27am, Lauren exits sports in the company of Cory Rossman. Interestingly, when Lauren exits sports, she has left behind both her shoes and her cellphone. Later, some will use this as a way to illustrate Lauren’s alleged level of intoxication. Also, due to her cellphone being left behind, there is no way to use pings or phone records to track her location.

Walking two blocks from Sports, Lauren and Rossman arrive back at Smallwood plaza, boarding an elevator to the fifth floor, where her apartment is. Somewhere between the elevator and Lauren’s apartment, Rossman is punched in the face. The punch leaves a bruise and reportedly Rossman is somewhat disoriented following the incident. Details are sketchy, but from what I’ve been able to piece together, multiple sources reported that the man who struck Rossman was Indiana University student Zach Oakes. Allegedly, Oakes notices Lauren’s level of inebriation and asks her if she is all right. Rossman responds, saying “She’s OK, I got it.” Allegedly, Oakes then tells Rossman he should take Lauren home as she seems to be out of it, at which point Rossman curses or says something disparaging to Oakes, resulting in Oakes punching him. Rossman would later claim that this blow to the head caused a concussion which, in turn, results in a loss of memory for the remainder of the evening.

This entire incident is marred in contention as some statements have made it appear as though this altercation occurred in the hallway outside of Lauren’s apartment, while other descriptions have made it appear as though it took place outside of the complex. Regardless, what is known for certain is that whether it have been a result of the altercation or some other reason, Lauren does not enter her apartment.
Corey Rossman is attending the University of Indiana, originally from the Boston suburbs, and reportedly met Lauren several days before her disappearance. More on him later.

 

At 2:48am, Lauren enters an alleyway which runs between College Avenue and Morton Street. Security camera capture her exiting the alleyway at 2:51am, walking toward an empty lot near 5 North Townhomes. Bloomington Police report that Lauren is spotted on security camera footage somewhere between her apartment and the exit of the alleyway in the company of a person whom the Police have chosen not to name. Also, upon later investigation, Lauren’s keys and purse are recovered from the alley. Why her keys and purse were left in the alley is unknown, but Lauren does not appear to be in distress upon exiting.

It is at this point that Lauren and Rossman return to his apartment, which he shares with his roommate Mike Beth. Beth has stayed in this evening, studying and working on papers due that day. According to Beth, upon their arrival, Rossman is heavily intoxicated and stumbling. Rossman vomits on the carpet on his way upstairs and Beth aids Rossman, helping him into bed. Two different versions of the story exist her. According to one version, Beth returns downstairs from helping Rossman to bed and Lauren has left. However, in another version, Beth attempts to persuade Lauren to spend the night, seeing that she is heavily intoxicated. Allegedly Lauren refuses, saying that she wants to go back to her own apartment.
At 3:30am, Beth places a phone call to Jay Rosenbaum, his neighbor and the man that Lauren and David Rohn had visited earlier in the night. He informs Rosenbaum that Lauren is drunk and trying to get him to have more drinks with her. He asks Rosenbaum if he could possibly take Lauren in and keep an eye on her. Lauren enters Rosenbaum’s apartment where he notes a bruise under one of her eyes but Lauren is unable to explain how or when she got it.

At approximately 4:15am, two phone calls are placed from Rosenbaum’s phone. The first is to David Rohn, the man Lauren began the evening with. Rohn doesn’t answer and a second call is placed to a different friend who does not answer either.

Approximately 15 minutes later, at 4:30am, Lauren informs Rosenbaum that she wants to head home to her own apartment. Rosenbaum reports seeing Lauren for the final time at the intersection of 11th Street and College Avenue, heading south on College Avenue. In this final sighting, Lauren is dressed in a white tank top, black leggings and no shoes.

Speculatively mixed into this official timeline are two specific incidents which cannot be fully verified. According to a bar manager, around 3:38am, he witnesses a mysterious figure throwing an intoxicated girl matching Lauren’s description over his shoulder. This takes place near 10th Street and College Avenue. Police investigate this tip but cannot verify and surveillance camera evidence fails to support it. However, John Cutter, a private investigator hired by Lauren’s family, says he interviewed the witness and does believe his account, and that the woman was Lauren, but he thinks it is highly possible the witness got the time wrong and that is why the police couldn’t verify.
A second unverified account comes from a homeless man who reports hearing a woman scream around 4:35am. Who the man was couldn’t be known for sure, though speculation led investigators to link this report to a known homeless man in the area. However, the man passed away just a few days after Lauren vanished.

 

Lauren Spierer and boyfriend Jesse Wolff

Lauren Spierer and boyfriend Jesse Wolff

 

In the early afternoon if June 3rd, Jesse Wolff, Lauren’s boyfriend who lives in a house just north of campus, tried to reach Lauren. After several attempts, an employee at Sports informs Jesse that the phone was left in the bar the night before. At this point, Wolff reaches out to Laruen’s roommate, Hadar Tamir, who meets him on campus and gives him a spare key so that he can go to their apartment and check on Lauren.
Finally, around 4:30pm, approximately 12 hours after Lauren is last seen, friends report her as missing to the Bloomington Police Department. Lauren’s parents now receive the phone call no parent ever wants to hear and quickly make their way to Bloomington.

Bloomington police investigate the disappearance, tracing back over Lauren’s steps, securing surveillance footage and questioning witnesses in an attempt to piece together exactly what happened to Lauren. Several theories begin to emerge in the days following her disappearance, with accusations and fingers being pointed at those who were with her that evening, and also her boyfriend at the time, Jesse Wolff.
Lauren’s parents strongly believe that the men who were with that evening: Rosenbaum and Rossman in particular, know more than they are telling. They say the same about Jesse Wolff. This is further aggravated by the men’s refusal to take polygraph tests issued by the Bloomington Police. According to legal representation for the men, they do not trust the Bloomington Police and have taken independent polygraphs including ones given by the FBI.

Based on Lauren’s level of intoxication, Lauren’s parents theorize that something was put in her drink during her time at Sports. However, friends and even Lauren’s boyfriend state that Lauren used drugs on the night in question and that she regularly used. Jesse Wolff’s mother issues a statement that Lauren had previously been asked to leave Camp Towanda due to her drug use, though Lauren’s parents deny the allegation.
When interview by investigators, Jay Rosenbaum informs them that Lauren snorted cocaine and crushed up klonopin tablets the evening she disappeared, in addition to consuming alcohol. If true, this behavior combined with her heart issue, could very well have been a deadly combination. From this statement, theories begin to grow that Lauren suffered from an overdose, or that her use negatively impacted her heart, resulting in death and that the guys she was with that evening disposed of the body to avoid charges. Although the Bloomington Police don’t rule this out, they do state that there are many other possibilities, including abduction by a stranger.

According to the Bloomington Police, Lauren had been arrested on September 2, 2010, nine months prior to her disappearance, on charges of public intoxication and illegal consumption. In the course of the search for her, Police found a small amount of cocaine in her room.
In the aftermath of Lauren’s disappearance, scrutiny is leveled at anyone who appears to be remotely connected to the case. The spotlight of curiosity is especially bright when focusing on the men who were around Lauren that evening, specifically Jay Rosenbaum, Michael Beth, Corey Rossman and Lauren’s boyfriend Jesse Wolff. These men retain legal representation within days of the disappearance.

In the case of Wolff, it is reported that he spoke to Lauren early in the evening before she went out, but that she had told him she didn’t have plans and wasn’t going out. Wolff stayed in that evening, watching the NBA Final Four and going to bed around 2:30am. This is corroborated by his roommate. Wolff was reportedly involved in search efforts for Lauren in the days following her disappearance, but his parents eventually arrived and took him back home to Port Washington, NY. Reportedly, Lauren was still in Bloomington in June waiting on Wolff to finish off a summer course after which they had planned to travel to the east coast together.

Surveillance camera footage

Surveillance camera footage

Bloomington Police took a DNA swab from Corey Rossman, who denied any knowledge of what could have happened to Lauren. In a statement issues by Rossman he stated, “I was not the last person with her and that’s all I can say, I’m sorry.” Rossman has been accused of being uncooperative, but his lawyer contradicts this statement. Rossman maintains that he cannot be of much help, having lost his memory after being punched earlier in the evening.

Lauren’s parents would go on to file a civil suit against Jay Rosenbaum, Corey Rossman and Michael Beth. The suit alleged negligence, stating that the men supplied Lauren with alcohol after she was already visible intoxicated and failed to assure she got home safely, which likely resulted in her death. In 2013, Federal Judge Tanya Pratt dismissed the suit against Beth, stating that he had no duty to care for Lauren. In 2014, Pratt dismissed the case against the other two, stating: “Unfortunately, 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.”
No charges have ever been officially filed against either of the three men.

Another theory revolves around a white truck.
On the night of Lauren’s disappearance, not far from where she was last seen, a white truck was caught on surveillance video. It was theorized that the driver of the vehicle could have spotted Lauren and, noting her vulnerability due to intoxication, could have abducted her. There have been several links made to white trucks and possible suspects. One suspect, James McClish, was implicated but passed a polygraph and was, for now, ruled out. A second suspect, Justin Wagers, a man accused of exposing himself to numerous women, lived with his parents in Martinsville, Indiana, approximately 20 miles north of Bloomington. On January 28th, 2016, the FBI, along with the Bloomington Police, raided his parents home. Dirty near the barn was removed, the property was searched by cadaver dogs and a white truck was towed from the property. Police would not comment on what evidence was found, if any.

One other theory involves a man known as the naked gunman.
Corey Hamersley is incarcerated at Indiana State Prison. Hamersley is a former student at the University of Indiana, who found himself caught up in the dark web of the drug scene. A year after Lauren vanished, Hamersley got high and had a breakdown. During the incident, Hamersley stepped outside wearing nothing but a hat and fires off 32 shots. Many shots went into a neighbors home, and car, but several shots were sent towards the responding officers. While in prison, another inmate claims that when a news report appears on TV and Lauren’s picture flashes on the screen, Hamersley is alleged to have said “Man, I knew the guys that did that.”

According to the witness, Hamersley stated that, “They were drinking heavily and doing ecstasy. She ODed. It scared them. They didn’t know what to do with her and they took her down to the Ohio River and got rid of her, disposed of the body.”

When interviewed about this, Hamersley denied ever saying it or knowing anything about Lauren. However, the scenario seems close to what is many speculate is the most likely: That Lauren suffered some form or fashion of an issue that evening and someone she was with knows more than they are saying.

As years have passed, Lauren’s parents have made claims that the Bloomington Police have not been open with them, giving them little information or in some cases no information at all. It is alleged that the police are in possession of further video and photographic evidence from that night, showing Lauren, and that they have not released it for reasons which the Spierer family can’t understand. Typically in these cases, you want to get as much information out as soon as possible. The Bloomington Police department has said time and again that they continue to investigate the case, and that they are very up front with the Spierer family.

Four years after Lauren’s disappearance, a grizzly crime shocks the city of Bloomington. The crime shares startling similarities to Lauren’s case, and ultimately, may shine light on her case.

On April 24th, 2015, the beaten and bloody body of Hannah Wilson, a University of Indiana student, is discovered. During the course of the investigation, speculation grows that there could be a link between the murder of Hannah Wilson and the disappearance of Lauren Spierer.
When Hannah’s body was discovered, a cellphone was recovered. Initially believing it to be Hannah’s, investigators quickly discover that the cellphone does, in fact, belong to the killer. Police link the cell phone to Daniel Messel, a 49 year old print shop employee. Messel has a criminal history relating to violence toward women. He, in fact, did time in prison for hitting his own grandmother in the head with a 2×4.
When Police arrive at Messel’s home, they his SUV packed. In a bag they find clothes soaked in Hannah Wilson’s blood. In the SUV is also Hannah’s hair.

On the night in question, Messel is playing bar trivia at Yogi’s bar, a few blocks away from Kilroy’s Sports bar, also known as Sports, the same bar Lauren Spierer had been in, and the very bar in which Hannah Wilson is partying with friends. Security cameras later catch Messel driving up and down the street in his SUV, and then again, following behind a cab which contains Hannah Wilson. Hannah enters her home, and then exits. It is speculated she walks outside to see if she dropped her license. At some point, Hannah ends up in Messel’s SUV.
According to Police, Messel knocks Hannah Wilson out and plans to take her to a desolate, cavernous area fifteen miles outside of Bloomington. However, a bridge is out this evening and Hannah wakes up. At this point, Messel savagely beats Hannah to death. The murder weapon is never located, although it is believed to be a Maglite flashlight.

During the trial, several women come forward to accuse Messel of stalking, assault and rape. One law student accuses Messel of attempting to rape her, and a partial DNA test from the incident matches that of Messel. Prosecutors believe that Messel was involved in the disappearance of Lauren Spierer. According to Prosecuting attorney Ted Adam’s: “The similarities that I know involving Hannah Wilson and Lauren Spierer, obviously you have I.U. students, young, attractive I.U. students, they were both consuming alcohol, and that she was around the same eight-block radius of where Hannah Wilson was plucked out.”

Adam’s is contacted by a man named David Hayden, who claims he helped Messel move Lauren’s body. It’s believed that Hayden and Messel did time together in the 90s. In one particular letter, Hayden writes that Lauren’s body was “dressed in black stretch yoga pants, white shirt and dark thong, no bra and several rings with one hand.” This does match the description of what Lauren was last seen wearing.
Messel denies knowing Hayden, or having any connection to Lauren’s case. In August of 2016, Messel was found guilty in the murder of Hannah Wilson and was sentenced to 80 years.

Lauren’s parents resigned themselves to the belief that their daughter is dead, even before the Hannah Wilson case came to light. They hope, beyond hope, for information regarding their daughter and at this point can only bare to hope for the recovery of her body. Bloomington Police cannot comment on whether or not there is a link between Daniel Messel and the disappearance of Lauren Spierer. However, for Lauren’s mother, it seems highly likely. In an interview, Charlene Spierer stated: ““I do feel like there’s a possibility that Daniel Messel could’ve been involved in Lauren’s disappearance, you know, unfortunately, we don’t have any evidence, because we don’t have Lauren’s body. But now, this is the second case that’s very similar, seemingly, to what’s happened to Lauren”

Without evidence, there can be no link to Messel. Lauren’s parents still hold out that eventually the answers of what happened to their daughter will come to the surface and they might be able to grant her a proper burial.

 

[Thoughts & Theories]

Lauren Spierer’s disappearance is a tragic, cautionary tale. No parent expects their child to go away to college and vanish. However, it is a reminder that no city, no college campus, no place is perfectly safe. There are so many theories in this case, many of which I simply didn’t include because they seemed to be little more than blatant speculation with no evidentiary foundation. However, those which I’ve discussed today, are the ones considered mostly likely and those which have gained and maintained life over the years.

The college party scene is well known. I didn’t attend an out of state college, but I did visit friends who did and I certainly got a picture of that party world. I once visited a friend attending school in up state New York. The first night I arrived involved us wandering down to one of the local bars, drinking cheap beer for hours and slowly stumbling back to her dorm, where the group of us continued drinking until the early morning hours. During that night, I saw large groups and solo individuals stumbling drunkenly around the main streets, across front lawns, on the college campus and everywhere in between. Most of the people in our group were underage, and yet we were able to get in and drink without a problem. There were certainly plenty of drugs going around, and although those weren’t my scene, several people in my group indulged. This didn’t seem odd or out of place to me, at the time. We were college kids, partying, isn’t this what everyone did?

Lauren Spierer was not the first, nor will she be the last, college sophomore to go out and party too much. However, in Lauren’s case, her night out never ended for her friends and family who will always wonder what could have happened to her. I decided to discuss Lauren’s drug use for several reasons. The key reason was the revelation that she suffered from a heart condition that could become fatal when mixed with drugs and alcohol. Another reason was in the hopes to be as accurate as possible and to lay out a detailed image of what may have happened to Lauren. Finally, her possible drug use would lend itself to her impaired state at the time of her disappearance, which would make her an easy target for someone looking to get their hands on a pretty young college girl. However, from all of the case details I have read, Lauren’s behavior that night isn’t all that different from what is happening right now on college campus all over the world.

In regard to the case itself, several questions popped up, which lend or take away credence for some of the theories, depending on your point of view. The first theory I read, and the one which seems to be all over the internet, is that one or more of the guys Lauren was with that night either did something to Lauren, or reacted poorly when something happened to her.

Given Lauren’s medical issue, it’s not hard to imagine that at any point in the night she could have passed out or maybe even died. Being in the company of any number of drunk, drugged up and scared college guys, in one of their apartments, it isn’t hard to imagine the panic and poor decisions that would be made in those moments. It’s entirely possible that Lauren passed away, or became incapacitated and the reaction was to find a way to get rid of the evidence, which in this case would be Lauren herself. However, the more you examine it, if it were something such as that, I just don’t see getting rid of her as a viable option. I think someone would have called the police or an ambulance. Yes, there were drugs around, and yes they could be held responsible, but it seems an extreme step to get rid of the body of a friend rather than help her. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to put her in the hallway outside and call the police? Or simply call the police and get rid of any drugs or illegal substances that might be around? It seems like a large leap for them to have gone to that extreme.

Some theorize that rather than a toxic mixture of drugs, alcohol and the heart condition, that one or some combination of the guys she was with that night did something to Lauren. Obviously this is possible, and considering the high numbers of assault on women in colleges, it has to be considered. Suffice it to say, the story doesn’t make sense, but then again, you are dealing with a group of people who have been drinking, partying, doing drugs for hours, their actions are not necessarily going to make sense. The memory loss in relation to being punched seems a little too convenient given the circumstances, but it’s not an impossibility. If any of these guys know what happened to Lauren, they’ve kept it quiet for six years now. However, other than the fact that Lauren was with them that night, there is no evidence pointing toward them as having done something to her. She appears to be fine on surveillance cameras and continues to remain in the company of one and then the other for much of the night. One piece of the puzzle I can’t understand is the visit to Lauren’s apartment complex which ultimately results in Lauren not entering her apartment. Why walk there, enter the building, take the elevator to her floor but not go inside? In addition to this, in the final sighting of Lauren, she is said to be heading back to her apartment, but we know from police that her purse and keys are found in an alleyway, having left them there earlier in the night. I suppose she could have banged on the door until her roommate answered. It may be foolish to use logical thought when trying to interpret the goings about of a person who is drunk. What bothers me most about this last sighting is the sighting itself. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine letting a female friend of mine walk home by herself, without her shoes, without her phone, at 4:30 in the morning when I know she is that intoxicated. You’d think a decent enough guy would offer to walk her home, but I guess it’s not a crime to not do the right thing.

Obviously Lauren’s then boyfriend, Jesse Wolff, was looked at early on in the case. When your significant other disappears, you are almost always one of the prime suspects from day one. However, in Jesse’s case, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of comment from the police in regard to his possible involvement, other than saying that he would of course be on the suspect list. Lauren’s friends described Jesse as a very loving boyfriend, and by all accounts, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to suggest he had a reason to do something to Lauren. According to his roommate, he was home that night and went to bed around 2:30am. It is strange that he lawyered up so fast, and took part in the search for a short period of time, but this could be attributed to any number of factors. Where are some look at getting a lawyer early as a sign of guilt, others view this as a smart move. Young men don’t always handle themselves well and can make foolish statements in moments of stress, anger or desperation. With the heavy flood of media coverage, it isn’t necessarily a bad idea to have someone there who can guide you through the process. The same can be said for Rosenbaum, Beth and Rossman, who also got lawyers quickly.

The white truck theory seems like a stretch. It’s entirely plausible that some guy was driving around in a white truck that evening looking for trouble, but there are a lot of white trucks out there and simply because some are registered to criminals doesn’t make the connection solid. It seems almost as if, in desperation, poring over the surveillance footage looking for anything that could be a possibility. As stated earlier, they did later search the property of a suspect and take possession of his truck, but as of this day, no new findings have come as a result of this. A private investigator, working for the Spierer family, did levy accusations against another ex con, not the one whose home was searched, who lived in the area and drove a white truck at the time. However, this individual submitted to a polygraph test and passed it.

The naked gunman theory also doesn’t feel too strong. It’s always hard to take the word of an inmate who overheard another inmate telling a story. I know that this is a trope of crime films and television, but in reality, it’s incredibly difficult to take the word of an inmate who saw something about the case on tv. People talk, and a lot of people, when they are in prison, attempt to make themselves seem to be more than they are. Criminals lie, and they especially lie to each other. In addition, Chris Hamersley denied ever making the claims, and since he himself wasn’t directly involved, you’d think if he had additional information about what happened to Lauren, he’d be trying to use that as leverage to help himself out, not choosing to keep his mouth shut about it.

Lauren’s parents had, in the past, said that the Bloomington police weren’t being very cooperative with them. We know, from earlier statements, that there is surveillance footage of Lauren speaking to a person the police chose not to publicly identify. Also, there are allegedly further photos and footage of Lauren from the night she disappeared which have yet to be released. It’s easy to say that these item should be out there to assist in the case, but the police often hold back specific details in order to ensure they can verify claims about what happened, and use this information to test the story of anyone they charge with participation in her disappearance. It is a common police tactic. It’s all too often that a case such as Lauren’s receives intense attention from both the police and media, only to trail off as the case grows cold. The Bloomington Police, however, contradict these statement and say they have been very direct with her parents and continued to investigate.

So then, two years ago in 2015, the tragic murder of Hannah Wilson takes place. Her case is incredibly emotional and painful, but it is solved rather quickly due to mistakes made by her killer, Daniel Messel. It’s during the lead up to trial that the police, and others, begin to make connections between the murder of Hannah Wilson and the disappearance of Lauren Spierer. In my opinion, the similarities are chilling. Hannah attended the same bar that Lauren had the night she vanished. Both girls are University of Indiana students, both have been drinking, both vanish for a period of time. We know, due to the trial, that Messel had planned to take Hannah Wilson away from town and into a desolate area, but due to weather he was unable to and this delay results in Hannah waking and prompts Messel to commit a violent murder. So, is it possible that Lauren didn’t wake up or couldn’t struggle and Messel managed to get her to a desolate area, murder her, and hide the body? I do wonder if the police have searched the area he was planning to take Hannah, in hopes of finding traces of Lauren. A lot of times, these guys have places they feel safe and they’re unlikely to change it up.

In relation to Messel, you’ve got the letters of David Hayden. Hayden is the man who claims to have helped Messel move the body of Lauren Spierer. It’s the details in his letter which bother me. Not so much what he says, but the way in which he describes Lauren. He specifies her clothing, which at the time was public knowledge, but he then goes further and says “a dark thong, no bra and several rings on one hand.” This is fairly specific, and going beyond the basic description and adding in a few extra details that weren’t necessarily known to the public. I still can’t determine if Lauren in fact had rings on her hand, outside of a statement from the family which says they had bought her a ring for her 20th birthday and she may have been wearing it that night. Obviously there is no way to know about her bra or underwear. As for mentioning an ID with the name Rebecca, Lauren’s older sisters name, and the information we have that Lauren used a fake ID to get into the bar that night, these seem like legitimate claims that need further investigation. The problem I find, however, is that we know Lauren left her purse and keys in an alleyway and left her phone and shoes at the bar. It seems unlikely she would still have the ID on her. In addition, David Hayden is a psychiatric inmate whose letters were not admissible in court. Regardless of David Hayden’s statements, even Lauren’s parents agree that Messel is likely responsible for what happened to their daughter. Whether or not this ever comes out, or if by some strange twist a new suspect arises, remains to be seen.

Lauren’s case is confusing, convoluted and tragic. The idea that a twenty year old college student can simply disappear is haunting. We don’t know what exactly happened to Lauren, but there has to be hope that we someday will. Someone has the answer and whether that person is one of Lauren’s former friends, her former boyfriend, a man convicted of murder or some yet unknown suspect is simply impossible to find a direct answer to given what is currently known. The mystery of what happened to Lauren Spierer continues to haunt her parents, and has become a cautionary tale for college student in Bloomington, and nationwide.