Just how easy is it to disappear? I have done stories about Etan Patz, a little boy who disappeared in 1979 in Manhattan…6-years-old…never found. Another 6-year old, Isabel Mercedes, disappeared from her bedroom in Tuscon, Arizona. 18-year old Andrew Compton, presumed dead based on the confessions of a man, has never been found after leaving his dorm at Sullivan College in Louisville in the fall of 2010. Several boys disappeared from the streets of Houston in the 1970′s and were not found until Elmer Wayne Henley led police to burial grounds near Pasadena, Texas and High Island.
The Indianapolis Star is revisiting the story of Lauren Spierer who disappeared from the streets of Bloomington, Indiana, a Midwest college town, last summer. The mother of missing college student Lauren Spierer paused for a moment, tears welling up in her eyes as she gave a different answer to a question she’s been asked numerous times since last June — do you believe your daughter is alive? “I don’t,” she said softly. Charlene Spierer revealed her change of perspective in the first interview she and her husband, Robert, have given in months, returning to Bloomington as the one-year anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance nears.
Spierer, a sophomore at Indiana University, hasn’t been seen or heard from since June 3, when she went out partying with friends. “We’re trying to be realistic,” Robert Spierer said. “We know that if she had the chance to reach out to us, she would have done it.” The Spierers sat down with The Indianapolis Star and the The Journal News (in Westchester County, N.Y., the Spierers’ hometown newspaper) for the first of several interviews this week to try and sustain interest in the case — despite a lack of any visible progress in the investigation. “It’s very frustrating to be talking about the exact same things we were talking about the first 30 days after her disappearance,” Robert Spierer said. They are still pushing forward with their effort to find their daughter, take her home and bring justice to whoever was responsible.
Some of the people the 20-year-old hung out with that night remain persons of interest in the criminal investigation, and the young woman’s parents continue to question their truthfulness — even after their private investigator interviewed a couple of them. In his toughest comments yet about the persons of interest, Robert Spierer implored the parents of each of them to “take their sons to the police station and allow for the law enforcement to (perform) polygraphs.” “I feel if she never met Corey Rossman, she’d be alive today,” he said of one of the students she was with that night. “His claim of memory loss is laughable.” “He’s a perfect example of someone who only cares about self-preservation, without any thought for another human being,” he added.
The parents, who met earlier today with Bloomington police, would particularly like to hear from Rossman. “Unfortunately, Corey continues to refuse to talk to us, talk to police,” Robert Spierer said. “It’s continuously frustrating that we can’t have a face-to-face with him.” Her parents are well aware that their daughter was not in a clear state of mind that night; she left her shoes and cell phone at Kilroy’s Bar, and was later seen stumbling out of an elevator in her apartment. For the first time, the Edgemont couple raised a possibility that she was drugged. “We felt somebody could have slipped something into her drink at Kilroy’s,” Robert Spierer said, but offered no proof to support the allegation.
After leaving Kilroy’s, Lauren Spierer returned to her off-campus apartment building with Rossman. They left after he was confronted by several people in the hallway. Rossman said he was punched so hard he lost memory of the night, though video surveillance shows he helped her out of her building after she stumbled into the lobby. The two went up the street to his apartment. She then visited Rossman’s neighbor, Jay Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum, who was the last person to report seeing her, is another person of interest. Earlier that night, he hosted a party that Spierer and Rossman attended. He later joined them at Kilroy’s, according to her parents. When she showed up at Rosenbaum’s place again later, he said, he tried to get her to sleep over on his couch, but let her leave after she showed she could walk.
The Spierers met with Rosenbaum in the fall, and also had a private detective interview him. But they came away with the same impression they had beforehand — that Rosenbaum is withholding information. Robert Spierer said the young man seemed to be rehashing a “story line.” “If he (Rosenbaum) was really worried about Lauren, he should have walked her home,” Spierer said. He added, “I don’t think anyone who saw her in the last hour-and-a-half did anything to help her,” prompting his wife to reply, “If they had, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.” The parents arrived in a college town that has essentially returned to normal. In the weeks after her disappearance, police held daily news conferences as hundreds of volunteers scoured the region for evidence, plastering “Find Lauren” signs on every street corner.
In recent months, the only significant attention to the case came from false alarms, the latest in March when a body found in Illinois turned out not to be the missing student. Nearly all of the persons of interest, including Rosenbaum and Rossman, will be graduating in the spring. “I initially felt we were up against the clock, but I don’t feel there’s a deadline on a person’s conscience,” Robert Spierer said. “I’m less concerned about them leaving Bloomington than I was initially.”