Friends of missing IU student Lauren Spierer prepare for graduation
It's been nearly two years since Indiana University student Lauren Spierer disappeared after a night out with friends in Bloomington. Her closest friends are about to graduate without her, but they pledge to keep the campus focused on her case.
The class of 2013 is preparing for graduation at IU, but it's bittersweet for Blair Wallach, who will move beyond Bloomington without Lauren Spierer.
"She was my best friend. It's a good thing to be graduating, but obviously I wish Lauren was here too," Wallach said.
Nearly two years after her disappearance, when Lauren would have been graduating too, her friends are still holding events on campus to keep her case on people's minds and find answers to what happened.
On Friday, a fundraiser called "Shop For Lauren" teamed up with Lauren's favorite clothing store for a trunk show on campus.
It's the same store where Lauren worked in high school in New York.
"Ten percent of the proceeds goes to the continued search fund which will help keep awareness, keep everyone aware of everything," Wallach explained. "Events like this are definitely a great way to keep students and the Bloomington community involved."
Since Lauren disappeared in June of 2011, there's been Shop for Lauren, a Shine for Lauren concert and a Luminaries for Lauren walk, along with searches and posters all over campus.
Her parents have kept publicity strong, as have her friends in Bloomington.
But there is concern that as Lauren's friends graduate, and as those who knew her leave campus, attention for her case may fade here as well.
"I'm a freshman, so a lot of us don't really connect with it that much, just because we weren't here. We still care about it, but it's just not necessarily something we connect with, I think," said IU freshman Aris Fetterling-Hood.
The community is still connecting with police.
The Bloomington Police department has received 2,998 tips since Lauren's disappearance. They've received 113 just since January of this year.
There's also still a strong push for answers online.
"We're keeping it on Facebook and then keeping the Facebook page updated, Twitter, Instagram, basically social media," Wallach said.
Lauren's story has left a legacy of improving student safety in Bloomington.
It's now drilled into freshman from day one.
"Making sure they're safe when they're walking around campus and going together places," Fetterling-Hood said.
It's also noticeable in the Greek community, where specific changes were made to keep co-eds out of danger.
"It does go back to Lauren and we do think about the impact that her disappearance has had on the IU community," said Leila Palizi, Vice President of communications for the Indiana University Panhellenic Council.
Fraternity and sorority members now have to check in and check out, in writing, from every party.
They're tracked going home, too.
"We don't allow girls to walk home at night alone ever and girls always get rides to and from parties," Palizi explained. "If you try to walk home, you will be stopped."
Details of Lauren Spierer's disappearance, while walking home alone, are still a mystery.
Lauren's friends hope her presence stays strong at IU, even as they move on. For them, it's not a just a missing college student. It's personal.
Another event will be held April 28th when students will hang posters of Lauren all over campus.
Bloomington Police statement:
Since the time of Lauren's disappearance on June 3, 2011, the Bloomington Police Department has continued its ongoing effort to provide answers to Lauren's family and the Bloomington community. Despite being nearly two years into this investigation, information continues to come in regarding Lauren's case and investigators diligently pursue the information with the same level of commitment as in the beginning. No amount of time passing will deter us from our responsibility and we remain dedicated to Lauren's cause.