Search continues for IU student Lauren Spierer - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Search continues for IU student Lauren Spierer

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Five months after IU student Lauren Spierer vanished, police still have no clue what happened to her, but the school is taking action to keep other students safe.

It was news that shocked Indiana University's campus. One of their own was missing, vanished without a trace.

For weeks, Bloomington Police held daily press conferences, giving what little updates were available, while Lauren Spierer's parents pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.

Friends, family, and complete strangers searched miles of thick forest in the dead heat of summer.

Now, the seasons have changed. Trees on the square are strung with lights for the holidays. The leaves have turned and fallen, and students are back on campus.

The pulse of the city hasn't stopped. Life has moved on, but Lauren's story is at a standstill.

Every corner you turn, you see her face. A silent statement of support in store windows and a larger message on campus. Light posts are covered, some tattered and torn.

Since she disappeared June third, there have been no major leads in the case, and no suspects. Police stopped the press conferences, and refused to talk to us about where the case stood later in the summer. Months later, the Bloomington Police Department still won't answer our questions on camera, only releasing to us a statement.

"We appreciate your continued interest in the story and recognize the value the media can play in our efforts. That being said, we have nothing new to report and continue to work on the case."

When this all began this summer, many incoming freshman were getting ready for their first year of college at IU.

Parents are talking to their kids about the case and reinforcing common sense tactics. IU freshman Luke Eichholtz received plenty of tips from his mom.

"To make sure my friends are good friends don't let them leave places alone, always like, if I'm having to walk at night, walk with people, take buses, take safe routes."

It's something Pete Goldsmith, the Dean of Students at IU, is glad to hear.

"We think IU is a safe campus, Bloomington is a safe place, but we don't live in a bubble."

The school website offers safety tips, and students can take advantage of a police escort service when walking alone.

We do know that Lauren was drinking and partying with friends the last night she was seen. As she walked home alone at 4 am, nobody ever saw her again.

"I think they think they're immortal. They know that it's a safe town. It is a safe town by and large, but things happen in safe towns and they don't take that seriously," says IU Professor Leah Shopkow.

IU is launching a new bystander intervention program to make sure something like this never happens again. It will teach students techniques to intervene in potentially dangerous situations.

"So if a friend has had too much to drink, if they're leaving with someone of questionable character, if someone sees them doing something unsafe, to give students the words to intervene," says Dean Goldsmith of the bystander intervention program.

Only 20 years old, Lauren somehow got into Kilroy's Sports Bar the night of her disappearance. The bar was cited for serving a minor. Bar managers wouldn't comment on whether carding policies have changed since the incident.

"Do you hear young students talking about getting into bars underage?"asked WDRB's Rachel Collier.

"No. They are very careful not to talk about that with me," says Professor Shopkow.

"But you know it happens?"

"I know it happens, and it doesn't help that the campus is ringed with bars. Literally ringed with bars, every time you walk off campus there's a bar there."

Leah Shopkow isn't only a mom, but also a professor at IU, and frequently overhears stories from students about wild weekends.

"Does it seem that it's pretty easy for students to get in bars here in Bloomington?"

"Absolutely, it's absolutely easy," says Shopkow.

She thinks the Bloomington bar scene can put students in vulnerable situations.

As the campus is dusted with golden and amber leaves, the hope is that we won't see a blanket of white snow before the mystery of Lauren's disappearance is solved.

`Charlene Spierer isn't giving up. In a letter posted online, she writes: "While statistics are against us after five months, our family continues to hold that shred of hope for Lauren's safe return. How could we not. You have the ability to end this nightmare. With every beat of my heart and every fiber of my body, I wish for Lauren's return."

Goldsmith says there has been a lot of interest for the bystander intervention program from students, which starts in January.

Lauren's parents have set up a P.O. box for anonymous tips.

 

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