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Video: Missing coed’s parents plead for her return

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    >>> let's begin this half hour with the missing student from indiana university . we'll speak to her parents in a moment, but first, nbc's john yang is in bloomington this morning with the latest. john, food morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. they're still in the information gathering stage in their investigation into what happened to lauren on her way back to her apartment building here. and her parents are issuing a direct challenge to anyone who knows the answer to that, to come forward. from lauren spierer's anguished mother --

    >> what are you wait for? what are you waiting for?

    >> reporter: a desperate personal plea to anyone who could lead her and her husband to their daughter.

    >> what you know might help us, it might be the key today that's going to make the difference.

    >> reporter: the spierer's plea came as bloomington police enhanced security camera video showing at least one car near where lauren was last seen about 4:30 the morning of june 3rd .

    >> this is not to be identified as a suspect vehicle or a vehicle of interest or anything at this point. i don't want us to make that leap. this is something that has caught our attention.

    >> reporter: on the ground and from the air with small remote-controlled planes equipped with cameras, the search for lauren continues. police say they're expanding the circle of friends and acquaintances they want to talk with as they try to figure out what happened to her. she was last seen walking to her apartment after a night out with friends.

    >> a lot of people have been talked to. law enforcement is going to keep talking with them. piece by piece by piece this puzzle is going to be put together. and we're going to find out not only what happened to her but who shares the responsibility of what happened that night.

    >> reporter: while police remain tight lipped about the investigation, lauren 's parents are trying to give their missing daughter a voice. at the police briefing charlene spierer read an e-mail lauren spent her parents from a spring break volunteer trip to israel this year with her sister, which is when this video was taken.

    >> making the dirt a little bit looser.

    >> i'm soaking up everything. i'm living up every single second. i'm so thankful for this trip. it's life changing. lauren , i love you. your spirit is with us. we're never going to stop and we are never going to quit. we're here and we love you.

    >> reporter: an expert from the national center for missing and exploited children has joined the investigation advising the bloomington police on how to proceed. matt?

    >> all right, john yang for news bloomington . john, thank you very much. lauren 's parents, robert and charlene spierer, are with us exclusively. thank you for joining us. i know this is a very difficult time for you.

    >> thank you for having us, matt.

    >> robert , let me start with you. the thing that jumped out for to me in that press briefing yesterday is the police saying about this vehicle. don't jump to conclusions , we're not calling it a suspect vehicle of vehicle of interest but they do want to know more about it and perhaps enhance that video. have they told you why they're curious about it?

    >> well, it's a vehicle that was in the vicinity close to the time that lauren was last seen. but we don't know if it's -- if it's meaningful in terms of any connection to the case. but it's just another lead that's being pursued, one of many, that have to be analyzed by the police and put together to evaluate how we're going to find lauren .

    >> are you both being kept fully abreast of this investigation? do you think you're getting all the information? are the police sharing all of that information with you? or are there parts of the investigation you're being kept away from?

    >> we meet with the police every day. we have a briefing with them just before a statement is made by them and by us. we're in constant communication with them. we have the cell numbers of the team, and we do speak with them regularly throughout the day.

    >> charlene , when you look at the time line leading up to lauren 's disappearance and the departure from that bar, the walk to the apartment building , leaving her apartment building , some kind of a confrontation on the street, her going to the apartment of a friend and then at 4:30 in the morning leaving that apartment. as a mom, you must have tried to fill in the blanks in what happened next. and so in your best judgment, what happened next?

    >> i think that's the million dollar question. we just don't know what happened next. the area where this all took place is such a small area. and she was so close so many times just to being home. so if anybody knows what happened next, if anybody saw her any time around that time,

    4: 30, 5:00, it's imperative that they share that information with the bloomington police department .

    >> right. of course, matt that is the fundamental question that is being asked. and the information that we get from anyone can help us answer that question. there are -- there are tip lines set up, both with the bloomington police department , with america's most wanted, and we ask that anyone with any information come forward. we've made this plea daily. and tips have come in and they're following up on those tips. but we encourage people to continue to come forward and tell us anything, however small it might be, however irrelevant you might think it is, to help us put the puzzle together.

    >> i have to ask youuren lauren 's boyfriend and her friend. are you completely confident that they are cooperating fully with the authorities and are you completely confident that they're telling the authorities the truth?

    >> i'm not privy to what's been said between them, meaning the police and jesse and cory. you know, i'm letting the police evaluate what's being said, how open they're being in helping the investigation. you know, we do know that anything that anyone can tell us is of critical importance to finding lauren . there's just a -- there's a big empty space between , you know, where she was last seen and her disappearance. we just can't -- we can't piece it together yet.

    >> finally, charlene , i know you realize the importance of keeping this story in the headlines, and i think that's one of the reasons you and robert have done so much talking in the media. i think it's a good thing. i also know you're far from home right now out there in the indiana. you live back here in westchester county in new york. can you even imagine leaving indiana at this stage without answering all these questions? is it just impossible to imagine going home without lauren ?

    >> it's impossible. you know, she's -- it's like having your heart ripped out. she's so much a part of my life, my husband's life, my older daughter's life. she's part of our little, you know, our little family. i just can't imagine ever leaving without lauren . so, no, i can't imagine ever leaving.

    >> charlene and robert -- go ahead. sorry, robert .

    >> matt, yes, i'm sorry. i think it bears mentioning that we have a tremendous amount of support from people in this community, friends back home, strangers from all around the country. they've come out here to help us with the search. it's critical that we get that help. it energizes us. it makes us stronger. of course, we get up every morning with a determined focus on one thing, and that's finding lauren . there is a reward, $100,000 reward, for information leading to us finding lauren . and there's a website, if you would like to get information about lauren to help us with the search or just information about how things are developing. the web site is findlauren.com.

    >> we will put that information up on our website as well, robert , and link people to it so we can get as many people aware of this story as possible.

    >> thank you.

    >> robert and charlene , our thoughts and prayers --

    >> can i --

    >> go ahead.

    >> i was going to say, if the person who has lauren is out there, we ask you to please let her go. let her come home. we love her. she's our baby and we want to get her back.

    >> our thoughts and prayers with you and with lauren . we will follow this story. robert and charlene spierer, thank you very much.

updated 6/14/2011 10:09:04 AM ET 2011-06-14T14:09:04

As the search for Lauren Spierer enters its 11th day, the Indiana University sophomore’s parents remain 700 miles from their suburban New York City home to aid in the investigation into the whereabouts of their missing daughter.

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Robert and Charlene Spierer say they will stay in Indiana until their daughter is found.

“It’s impossible [to leave],” Charlene Spierer told Matt Lauer in an interview via satellite from Bloomington, Ind., on TODAY Tuesday. “It’s like having your heart ripped out. She’s so much a part of my life, my husband’s life, my older daughter’s life. I just can’t imagine leaving without her.”

While local police, with aid from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, sift through dozens of tips that have filtered in since Spierer went missing the morning of June 3, there’s no indication that the fuzzy picture of what happened to the pretty college student has come into focus — or that a suspect in the possible abduction has been identified.

Sitting alongside his wife in the TODAY interview, dad Robert Spierer directed a message to whoever may be responsible for taking their daughter away from her family.

Story: Police may have new leads in the disappearance of Lauren Spierer

“If the person who has Lauren is out there, we ask you to please let her go, let her come home. We love her. She’s our baby and we want to get her back,” he said.

Spierer was just days away from returning home to New York for an internship during summer break. Her disappearance came as Indiana University was winding down its 2010-2011 academic year, and the 20-year-old was reportedly celebrating with friends at local sports bar Kilroy’s, leaving with pal Corey Rossman around 2:30 a.m. The pair went to Lauren’s apartment, leaving a short while later for Rossman’s home.

From there, the picture gets blurry: Rossman’s attorney said his client got into a fight and was assaulted before entering Spierer’s apartment building, and suffered short-term memory loss. The university’s paper, The Indiana Daily Student, reported that police believe Spierer lost her purse and apartment keys while walking to Rossman’s home. Rossman’s roommate confirmed that the pair had come into their apartment.

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Spierer was last seen at 4:30 a.m., apparently heading back home to her place. Police say that in watching surveillance videos from local businesses, one or possibly two vehicles were observed in the vicinity where she was last seen.

Robert Spierer told Lauer he has no idea whether the lead surrounding the vehicles will ultimately unravel the mystery of the family’s missing daughter. “We don’t know if it’s meaningful in terms of any connection to the case. It’s just another lead, one of many that have to be analyzed by police and put together to evaluate how we’re going to find Lauren.”

Video: Missing coed’s parents plead for her return (on this page)

The couple told Lauer that law enforcement have kept them involved and informed every step of the way, but even they are helpless in putting together a scenario of what happened to their daughter. “That’s the million-dollar question; we just don’t know what happened next,” Charlene Spierer told Lauer. “The area where all of this took place is such a small area, and she was so close so many times just to being home.”

Rossman and Jesse Wolff, Lauren’s boyfriend of two years, who originally reported her missing the afternoon of June 3, have both spoken to police, but Robert Spierer told Lauer he can’t hazard a guess as to how helpful they have been in the case.

Michael Conroy  /  AP
A missing person poster of Lauren Spierer, 20, is posted on a sign post outside her apartment building in Bloomington, Ind., Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

“I’m not privy to what’s being said between the police and Jesse and Corey,” he said. “I’m letting the police evaluate what’s being said — how open they’re being in helping the investigation. We do know that anything anyone can tell us is of critical importance to finding Lauren. There’s just a big, empty space between where she was last seen and her disappearance.”

On-the-ground volunteers continue to comb through the area looking for clues to Lauren’s disappearance, while remote control planes equipped with cameras search from above. Robert Spierer told Lauer that they have been heartened by the outpouring of help from police, from friends back home and even total strangers who have come forward to assist in the search.

“It’s critical that we get that help,” he said. “It energizes us, it makes us stronger. We get up every morning with a determined focus on one thing, and that’s finding Lauren.”

The Spierers continue their plea for people who may have seen Lauren the night of her disappearance to come forward, and are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Lauren’s whereabouts.

To share information, contact the Bloomington Police Department at 1-812-339-4477 or visit the family’s dedicated website, FindLauren.com.


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