Posted by Mike Dever - email
BLOOMINGTON, IN (WAVE) - The search continued for a fifth day Wednesday for Lauren Spierer, the 20-year-old IU student who went missing June 3 after a night of partying with friends.
On Tuesday, Bloomington police executed a search warrant at the Smallwood Plaza apartments complex where Spierer lives. Officers were forced to use a steel battering ram to break into one room in the apartment building's lobby after they were initially denied access by staff at the complex.
At a news conference in Bloomington Wednesday Lt. Bill Parker with the Bloomington Police Department says it's not unusual for private businesses to insist on official paperwork before turning over video.
"That's perfectly normal," Parker said. "So we did obtain a search warrant, but at some point when we were trying to serve that search warrant we were denied access. So as any search warrant states, we can use necessary force to enter and obtain the things we need so we did do so. That was after lengthy consultation to examine alternatives."
Police removed three computers and several computer discs from the apartment complex security room.
Parker says the staff at Smallwood Plaza is now cooperating with police. Smallwood Apartment managers told WAVE 3 in a statement they have been nothing but cooperative with police in their investigation.
Investigators say they have reviewed surveillance video that shows Spierer entering and leaving the building in the company of friends.
"We believe that she arrived at Smallwood about 2:40 a.m., something like that, and was in the building for 10 minutes or so," Parker said. "She did not go into her apartment. She and the acquaintances with her came back out. And the footage shows those events."
When asked why there was a four-day delay to obtaining the footage, Parker said they had been working on that since the search began.
"As we're gathering these things up, we have to ask for it just to be provided, and the company did not want to do it that way, they wanted us to take official action," Parker said.
Police have interviewed the people who were with Spierer before she went missing.
According to parker, one acquaintance "said he watched her walk away because she said she wanted to go home and he watched her to see if she made it all right and that's as far as he watched her."
There was no indication that Spierer was in any distress or being forced, Parker said.
In an answer to a reporter's question, Parker said Spierer's boyfriend was in town the night she went missing and. "he is a person that we have interviewed." But Parker says they have no one they consider a "suspect." He said police have begun the process of conducting polygraph exams but declined to say how many were planned.
Parker told reporters they are widening search efforts with police officers and volunteers.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be joining the search. Members of their "Adam" team were set to take part Wednesday afternoon.
Lauren's parents are in town from New York and are helping coordinate search efforts. Lauren's father, Robert Spierer, thanked volunteers and police for their efforts to find Lauren. He told reporters there are now three organized searches each day, with the first search one at 11 a.m., another at 2 p.m. and another at 5:30 p.m.
"We're not going to stop," Robert Spierer said. "This is going to be an every-day affair. I will be here, we will be working and doing whatever we have to do to find Lauren and bring her home."
Robert Spierer says the last time he heard from his daughter was the day before she disappeared and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Lauren left her New York home and moved to Bloomington to major in fashion.
"Kind of person that whatever she put on she looked great in," said Robert Spierer.
During a news conference at the police station on Tuesday, Parker described Lauren as petite; about 4-ft. 11 inches tall, weighing about 95 pounds with long blonde hair. But Parker cautioned placing too much emphasis on her hair.
"It's possible that if Lauren has been abducted, her appearance could have been changed," he told reporters. "We do suspect there could have been foul play."
Spierer had been drinking with friends at a Bloomington sports bar. When asked if alcohol could have made her more vulnerable to an attack or abduction, Parker said, "It certainly could have. We do sometimes see alcohol plays a part in people being victimized, but that's a very general statement."
Spierer has a life-threatening heart condition and needs medication.
Anyone with information should call Bloomington police at 812-339-4477 or the America's Most Wanted tipline at 800-CRIME-TV. All tips are anonymous.