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Ten years after Indiana college student Lauren Spierer mysteriously vanished in the early morning hours of June 3, 2011, her family is still hoping for answers.
In a Facebook post to mark the tragic anniversary, Spierer’s mother, Charlene Spierer, wrote that there has never been a formal suspect in her daughter’s disappearance and what happened that morning remains a mystery a decade later.
“Shocking that someone so loved could vanish without a trace but entirely possible,” she wrote. “It did happen and ten years later I still struggle. The space that once held hopes and dreams for Lauren will never heal. It is replaced by an ache fueled by the not knowing.”
Lauren—who was just 20 years old at the time—disappeared after spending a night out with friends and fellow classmates at the University of Indiana, where she had been studying fashion merchandising, local station WBIW reports.
The Scarsdale, New York native was last spotted around 4:15 a.m. by a friend, who told authorities she had been walking barefoot toward her apartment. Witnesses reported the 20-year-old had been highly intoxicated and used drugs that night, according to the local station.
“There’s been hundreds and hundreds of tips or leads on the case,” private investigator Michael Ciravolo, president of Beau Dietl & Associates, told Oxygen.com of the investigation to-date. “We’ve run them down and we’re satisfied that they weren’t valid, but you know a lot of work goes into vetting these tips to see if there’s any valid information connected with them.”
The 20-year-old did not have her cell phone when she had disappeared and had left her shoes at Kilroy’s Sports Bar, where she had been earlier that night.
Now, a decade later, Ciravolo believes Lauren’s disappearance can likely be explained by one of three scenarios.
The night she disappeared she was captured on surveillance footage with a male friend walking toward his apartment complex around 2:51 a.m., the local station reports.
According to Ciravolo, that man told investigators that after they arrived at the apartment, Spierer had gone to another male friend's nearby apartment.
“He claims that she was tipsy and he offered to let her stay but she insisted on walking home, which would have been about four blocks, and he watched her from his balcony of his town house and when she got to the corner of College and 11th Street, he thinks, if his memory serves him correctly, that he may have seen an individual intersect with her,” Ciravolo said.
If this account is correct, Ciravolo said one possibility is that Lauren could have encountered “an opportunist on the street who took advantage of a very petite girl who had a few too many drinks.”
Another possibility, according to Ciravolo, could be that someone close to Lauren caused her harm. According to him, not everyone in Lauren's life at the time was able to provide a verifiable alibi, making it possible that someone she knew could have killed her.
The third possibility, according to Ciravolo, is that the 20-year-old may have met with an accidental death.
“She had some heart problems, maybe the drinks that she consumed that night caught up with her, perhaps her heart stopped,” he said. “She was taking a medication, (I’m) not sure if she took that medication or not, but perhaps she expired and they disposed of the body, not wanting to muck up their careers or you know, their lives.”
In the years since the college student vanished, there’s been no shortage of tips in the case—whether from psychics or those claiming they spotted someone who looked like Lauren working in a club.
Just last year, Ciravolo said they had someone who bought a home in a county outside of Indianapolis and found a desk with news clippings of Lauren’s case. The former homeowner had passed away but his son was allegedly a pedophile, sparking the suspicion of investigators.
After examining the property, investigators found a mound of dirt in the crawl space of the home. Cadaver dogs checked out the mound and hit on the dirt indicating possible remains, but after excavating the area, nothing was unearthed.
“It’s been ups and downs like that,” Ciravolo said. “We follow tips up until we can’t follow them anymore but we leave no stone unturned because we never know when that tip, the information from that tip, could turn out to hold the key.”
In a videotaped statement obtained by Oxygen.com, Bloomington Police Chief Michael Diekhoff said that since 2011 police have also received nearly 3,600 tips with approximately 1,100 of those being “actionable and assigned for additional follow-up.”
“In short, BPD and its various investigative partners have gone wherever a lead has taken us and that effort will continue,” Diekhoff said.
Over the years, Bloomington Police have worked with the FBI and other law enforcement partners to scrutinize surveillance footage, conduct extensive land searches and interview hundreds of people in the case that remains “still very active,” police said in a statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
“Someone, somewhere, knows something,” police said. “Anything you might know, even if it seems small, could provide the answers to Lauren’s disappearance.”
As the 10-year anniversary of Lauren’s disappearance is marked this week, investigators and Lauren’s mother are still hopeful that someone will come forward with credible information to help provide answers for a devastated family.
“I’ve learned to manage my days, months and years, but in an instant, something will happen which sends me reeling back to the day it all happened,” Charlene wrote. “I try my best, I will survive, I will never forget. I do not need a day like today to remember because every day is a day of remembrance.”
Anyone with credible information about the case, is urged to contact Bloomington Police or Ciravolo at 212-557-3334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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