June 3rd: 20-year-old Indiana University student Lauren Spierer leaves Kilroy’s Sports Bar.
After that….she simply vanishes. Bloomington police continue to follow leads as the community rallies around their efforts.
BY JOEL BUSTAMANTE
Spierer’s parents, Charlene and Robert Spierer immediately flew from their home in Greenburgh, New York, to find their daughter. While they were prepared to take on the daunting task of recovering their daughter alone, they never imagined the support they would get.[kml_flashembed publishmethod="static" fversion="8.0.0" movie="http://www.journalism516.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/timeline.swf" width="384" height="493.5" targetclass="flashmovie" align="right" salign="right"]
“We feel like we’re surround by so many people that care so much about our family, that care about Lauren,” he said. “Even though many of the people here don’t know Lauren, she’s somehow to them become more than a face on a poster, which is good, because we know Lauren as so much more than that.”
This is all from people that just care and wanted to show their support.”
The Bloomington community immediately sprang into support and action. Students and concerned citizens alike conducted mass searches in the weeks following her disappearance. Posters and billboards have been placed on many buildings and local shops. Facebook groups and Twitter accounts exploded with support for finding Lauren. Even celebrity Ryan Seacrest offers his condolences on Twitter.
A musical concert, entitled Shine 4 Lauren, was held to keep the spirit of the search efforts alive.
Those seemingly intertwined with the disappearance have come forth to offer information. The last person to see Lauren, Jay Rosenbaum, has met with authorities and adamantly denies any involvement. He successfully passed a polygraph test and continues to give his full cooperation.
Yet, even with this community outpouring, as time goes on, there are those calling for a change of scenery.
An anonymous letter sent to Charlene Spierer states, “We are sorry about your missing daughter. But don’t you think it’s time to do the right thing by Bloomington and stop littering our town with your posters?” The letter goes on to say, “You have had a lot of supporters but now you are offending a good many of us.”
Furthermore, many of the Facebook groups have since been taken down or have shown some waning support.
Six months later, there have been few developments in the case. Community involvement, however, has continued to stay vigilant to finding Lauren.
A small vigil entitled “Support the Spierers” was held in front of Lauren’s Smallwood apartment, where members of the community stood up to speak their thoughts on the missing student. Many read poems and songs that focused on Lauren’s spirit and impact on the community.
The event was planned and organized by Shelly Leonard, a woman who had no previous experience with the Spierers until now. The striking resemblance to her own daughter prompted Leonard to do her part in the search for Lauren.
“It’s the Christmas season, and that’s when you spend time with your families and the Spierers are going to be missing a member of their family,” she said. “And I know that to them, the holiday is no different than any other day but the atmosphere of the season I just, I thought that if we could make the load a little lighter for them, then that’s what we needed to do.”
Other supporters, such as Cathy Garger, drove as far as Baltimore to show her support. Like the Spierer’s, Carger also lost her daughter this year after a botched dental procedure.
Lauren’s mother, Charlene, is grateful for the community’s outreach and concern for her missing daughter.
“We’re just so fortunate that so many people are behind us and continue to support Lauren and wanted to help us keep Lauren’s disappearance very relevant and without that, all is lost, so our goal is to keep Lauren’s story as much on the minds of everybody as much as we possibly can,” she said. “So, we’re very grateful to everybody for what they’re doing.”
After the vigil, participants walked to Fountain Square Mall, where a small Christmas tree adorned with Find Lauren tags and a Star of David will remain throughout the holidays. Next to the tree sits a mailbox for community thoughts and prayers.
December 20th will see “Luminaries for Lauren,” in which the alleyway of her last sighting will be lit up for a full week during the Jewish Holidays.
Despite over two thousand tips, police are still searching for Lauren Spierer, and will continue their investigation.
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