There are still no signs of Lauren Spierer, an Indiana University student who went missing late last week. Nevertheless, her parents continue to hold out hope that the 20-year-old fashion student will be found safe.
"Every little piece of information we get is important," Robert Spierer, Lauren's father, said during a news conference in Bloomington, Ind., this afternoon. "We're not going to give up."
Spierer was last seen around 4:30 a.m. Friday just a few blocks from her Smallwood Plaza apartment. Earlier in the night, Spierer had visited Kilroy's, a nearby sports bar that closes at 3 a.m. When she left the establishment, she left behind her shoes and cellphone, police said.
After leaving the bar, Spierer went to a friend's apartment before deciding to walk home. A male friend was the last to see her, police said. He told police that she was walking barefoot near the corner of 11th Street and College Avenue. What happened to her after that remains a mystery. She was reported missing within 12 hours later.
"We've been interviewing everybody that was with her," Bloomington police Lt. Bill Parker said Tuesday. "They've cooperated fully with letting us search their places, their cars."
Since Friday, Bloomington police, Indiana University police, the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police and the FBI have been conducting searches. Investigators have been looking at construction sites, lakes and wooded areas around Bloomington.
Local law enforcement also welcomes community volunteer searchers, and those searches are being held three times daily, at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in participating can learn more by visiting a Facebook page that has been created or a website set up by the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center at Indiana University.
"We very much appreciate the help that all the volunteers have provided," Parker said. "[Search areas] would be very hard to cover with a small group of officers."
In addition to physical searches, volunteers have distributed more than a 1,000 missing person posters with Spierer's photo, name and characteristics around the area. Digital billboards have also been carrying her information as far as Indianapolis, roughly 50 miles away.
Spierer's parents, who live in Greenburgh, N.Y., flew to Bloomington on Saturday to assist in search efforts. They are concerned not only for their daughter’s sudden and unexplained disappearance, but also for her health.
According to Rebecca Leftkowitz, Spierer's close friend, Spierer has a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder called long QT syndrome that requires regular medication.
"It's crucial that she gets that medication," Leftkowitz told the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Despite the combined efforts of local law enforcement and community volunteers, investigators today have yet to develop any solid leads in the college student's disappearance. On Monday, Parker said investigators could not ignore the fact that Spierer may have been taken against her will.
"It is not impossible that she has left on her own and gone somewhere, but at this point we feel it is unlikely. We feel there has been some sort of foul play," he said.
During today's media briefing, Parker said authorities have no suspects in the case.
"We don't have anybody that we characterize as a suspect," he said.
Robert Spierer and his wife, Charlene, are hopeful someone who may have seen their daughter the night she disappeared will come forward with information in the case.
"If anybody saw Lauren on Thursday night with anyone, please share that with Bloomington police. It doesn't matter how casual it was," Spierer said today.
He added, "She's a loving girl, very close with her mother, spoke to her mother every day."
Local media outlets have drawn parallels between Spierer's disappearance and that of Jill Behrman, an Indiana University student who vanished in 2000 during a bike ride near Bloomington. Roughly three years later, the 19-year-old's remains were found in a wooded area near Morgan County. The discovery led to the controversial arrest and conviction of a man named John R. Myers II.
Lauren Spierer is described as a white female who is 4-feet-11-inches tall with a slender build. She has blue eyes and blond hair. She was last wearing a white tank top with a light-colored shirt over it and black full-length stretch pants. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Bloomington Police at (812) 339-4477.
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