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.
“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.