Firefighter puts up "Find Lauren" billboards in memory of son
There's a renewed push to help find Lauren Spierer from a Bloomington firefighter who has experienced a similar loss.
He and his fellow firefighters are rebuilding 20 signs across the city, asking for information that could lead to the missing Indiana University student.
It used to be in Bloomington you couldn't go anywhere without seeing her face. Pictures of Lauren Spierer peppered the city where the IU student disappeared nearly two years ago.
But recently, those billboards have deteriorated and the smaller signs are mostly gone.
Bloomington Firefighter Lee Chapman didn't want her story to fade, too.
"We've gotten the message back out there and that's the most important thing," Chapman said.
Bloomington firefighters built 20 new billboards, which include a new picture and even a QR code that links to the Find Lauren website. Seven of the signs are up already in high-traffic areas, the rest will go up after Little 500 weekend.
Lauren's parents say they're grateful for the renewed push for answers.
"Charlene and I are very touched by what Lee is doing and the other firefighters," Lauren's father, Robert Spierer, told Eyewitness News by phone Wednesday. "It just shows that the Bloomington community is still behind us, even though we're still struggling with a missing child and don't have any clear path of finding her at this point."
"We're going to get the message out there one last time and hopefully, hopefully we can get some closure for their family," Chapman said.
For Chapman, this is about even more than just rebuilding signs - it's personal. Chapman has experienced loss, similar to the Spierers.
"I lost a son back in October, same age as Lauren," he said.
Chapman's son, Robbie, died in a car accident. It happened the day after he became a firefighter, just like his father.
Lee says he made a pledge at his son's graveside to do something special in his honor. Helping the Spierers, he says, was a perfect, albeit heart-wrenching, fit.
"It's a parent's worst nightmare and it's hard to compare it to what the Spierers are going through, but I have closure on my end," Chapman said. "I know where my son is. My son's buried behind my house in a private cemetery, so I can go and see him anytime, but the Spierers still don't know where their daughter's at."
It's the not knowing that Lee hopes to change, with signs of hope, from one parent to another, who's experienced loss.