Lauren Spierer Disappearance: Private Investigator and Podcast Host Search for Answers Into Decade-Old Mystery

“What happened to Lauren was shocking.  It is inconceivable to have spoken to Lauren hours before discovering would be for the last time.  Shocking that someone so loved could vanish without a trace but entirely possible,” Charlene Spierer said, in part.

Ten years ago, 20-year-old Lauren Spierer went out for a night of fun with friends and never was seen again. The disappearance of the Indiana University Bloomington student left her family, friends, and college community stunned. Seemingly having vanished without a trace, what happened to Spierer has been the top question for many ever since. 

Spierer was from Scarsdale, New York, a suburb in Westchester County. She was a college sophomore studying fashion merchandising who had just finished her second year at IU and was taking a summer class before heading to New York for an internship at Anthropologie when she went missing.

The petite Spierer, who had striking blue eyes and blonde hair, had been wearing a white top and black pants the night she disappeared. She was last seen walking barefoot and going south on College Avenue from 11th Street during the early morning hours of June 3, 2011, according to the Bloomington Police Department.

The Bloomington Police Department, the Indiana University Police Department, and the FBI joined forces in a nationwide search that saw investigators descend on the remote woods of Indiana, abandoned quarries, different bodies of water, and even a landfill.

Spierer’s heartbroken parents, Charlene and Rob, appeared at daily press briefings and even offered a reward of $100,000 for their daughter’s safe return. News of her mysterious disappearance captivated the nation and caught the attention of celebrities, including comedian Stephen Colbert and reality star Kim Kardashian, when it began trending on social media. 

Over the years, many news programs such as “20/20,” true-crime shows, and podcasts highlighted Spierer’s story. In 2019, it made Time Magazine’s “Top 5 Most Mysterious Disappearance Of All Time.”

Three months after Spierer went missing, her parents hired Mike Ciravolo, a private investigator, and chief of investigations at the New York-based firm Beau Dietl & Associates.

“I’ve never seen a case where there’s “no suspect, no body, no DNA, no arrest, no autopsy, no court documents, nothing,” former NYPD detective lieutenant told Inside Edition Digital.

Marking 10 Years Without Lauren Spierer 

The day before the 10-year anniversary of Spierer’s disappearance, the Bloomington Police Department released a pre-taped video update on the investigation stressing that Spierer’s case is “not a cold case,” but a case that continues to remain active. 

Chief Michael Diekhoff said they continue to investigate leads and work with the FBI to find Spierer. He said their department has received more than 36,000 tips since Spierer vanished.

“While much time has passed since her disappearance, the search for Lauren is still very active,” Diekhoff said. “Over the last three to four years, investigators have received over 800 tips and executed at least 10 search warrants.”

He encouraged the media to keep Spierer’s story alive and for anyone with information to contact the authorities. “Anything you might know, even if it seems small, could provide the answers to Lauren's disappearance,” he said. 

Ciravolo also has continued to search for answers. 

“People often ask me, ‘Well what do you think happened to Lauren?' I wish I had the answer because we wouldn’t be doing this interview now 10 years later," he said.

“Someone knows something and this family deserves closure. This family deserves an answer as to what happened to their daughter. Where is she? And, we are not going to rest until we can bring closure to this very sad story.”

On June 3, 2021, Charlene Spierer wrote an emotional post on the Official Lauren Spierer Updates from Her Family Facebook page. She shared the emotional journey she has been on over the last decade and expressed gratitude to Ciravolo, who she said has become a close friend of the family, and to those who have continued to show their support and love through the years. 

Charlene also gave a special thanks to her husband Rob, and their daughter Rebecca, “without whom I could not have survived.”

“What happened to Lauren was shocking. It is inconceivable to have spoken to Lauren hours before discovering it would be for the last time. Shocking that someone so loved could vanish without a trace but entirely possible,” Charlene wrote.

“It did happen and ten years later I still struggle. The space that once held hopes and dreams for Lauren will never heal. It is replaced by an ache fueled by the not knowing. I have learned to manage my days, months, and years, but in an instant, something will happen which sends me reeling back to the day it all happened. 

“I try my best, I will survive, I will never forget. I do not need a day like today to remember because every day is a day of remembrance.”

Charlene also noted how seemingly little is known in her daughter’s case, writing, “there is no video evidence proving Lauren ever turned the corner at 11th and College Avenue around 4:30 a.m. There has never been any suspect named.”

“My heart goes out to anyone searching for a missing loved one. When you are 'in it' you can’t see beyond it. You try everything humanly possible to get answers. You are willing to work from first light until you collapse exhausted at the end of the day. You read everything written, every blog, every Facebook post, every tweet, every comment at the end of every article you have access to, just hoping someone will post something to move your case forward. You open your door to the worst of humanity. Desperate to believe their convincing lies, but I think the worst offense comes from those who hold the answers and refuse to share them,” she wrote.

She ended the post with a poignant message: “Hoping today is the day and reminding the reader that anything small could be big,” she said. “Lauren, lost but never forgotten, forever in our hearts."

On Mon. Jan. 17, Spierer would have turned 31. In honor of their daughter's birthday, Charlene posted a few childhood photos of Spierer, along with some photos of a smiling Spierer with her mother and father on the family's Facebook page, with a quote from Abraham Lincoln:  “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years," she wrote.

Charlene continued: "A life well-lived, albeit too short. Always loved, always in our hearts. Happy birthday, dear Lauren."

The Night Lauren Spierer Vanished

The night she went missing, Spierer had been invited to a pregame party that was being thrown a few blocks from her apartment on 11 Street and College Avenue. The party was being thrown by Jay Rosenbaum, who Spierer knew previously, and two new people she had met a week prior at the Indianapolis 500, Mike Beth and Corey Rossman.

Ciravolo said he spoke with Rosenbaum and Beth about the night Spierer went missing. He said Spierer went to the party with her friend David Rohn, and then left the party with Rossman, according to Ciravolo. The pair ended up at Kilroy's Sports, a popular college bar on Walnut Street, and after a few drinks, headed back to Smallwood Apartments, where Spierer lived, Ciravolo said.

The detective said that inside the building, Spierer ran into four boys she knew.

Ciravolo said they didn’t know Rossman, and when they saw the Spierer was "intoxicated,” Ciravolo said, the boys told Rossman to take her home. Rossman told them that “he’s got it,” Ciravolo said, and when the boys insisted that he take her back to her apartment. Rossman was reportedly punched in the face and he fell to the floor. The other group apparently fled the scene, Ciravolo said. 

Once Rossman recovered, he and Spierer left the building and walked along a long alleyway leading up to 11th Street, according to Ciravolo. He said they were seen on camera stopping at a building where Rossman knocked on the door of an apartment occupied by four other girls he knew. It was 2:30 a.m. at the time, and all the girls had been sleeping. Ciravolo said he was able to see the Rossman and Spierer on surveillance video, but then lost sight of them when they were going through a vacant lot. 

“There were no cameras situated on 11th Street anywhere near the townhouses where Rossman, Beth, and Rosenbaum lived,” he said.

According to the investigation, Ciravolo said Spierer left her shoes and cell phone at the bar, and Rossman had carried her through a vacant lot that led to his townhouse on 11th Street because there were sharp objects and broken bricks on the ground. 

When they arrived at the apartment that Rossman shared with Beth, Beth was working on a paper for school, Ciravolo said.

Ciravolo said Rossman ended up getting sick and Beth helped him up the stairs to his room and put him in his bed. Beth asked Spierer to stay the night on the couch, but Ciravolo said she declined. Beth then brought Spierer to his neighbor, Jay Rosenbaum, according to Ciravolo. Rosenbaum also offered Spierer his couch and a pillow to sleep on, but Spierer wanted to go home, according to Ciravolo.

Ciravolo said after Spierer went out the door, Rosenbaum claimed he went on the terrace, and he called out to Spierer, and said, "Text me when you find your phone.” Ciravolo said he also told him, "That he’s not sure, but he thinks he may have seen another individual in the shadows intercept Spierer on the corner of 11th and College, and then he loses sight of her around the corner."

It was close to 4:30 a.m.

Rosenbaum reportedly told the Bloomington police that he was the last person to have seen Spierer, according to Ciravolo and a report by 

Spierer’s boyfriend of two years, Jesse Wolff, also attended Indiana University. The two had met at the sleep-away camp Camp Towanda years earlier. They were in an exclusive relationship, and Wolff had hoped to marry Spierer one day, Ciravolo said. 

Wolff reported Spierer missing to Bloomington police when he was unable to reach her.

The night she vanished, Wolff said he was with his fraternity brothers watching the NBA Finals basketball game at an off-campus fraternity house, “which we know this to be true,” Ciravolo said.

Ciravolo said he spoke with Wolff and Wolff’s roommates. His roommates said the last time they saw Wolff was around 2:30 a.m. and then the roommates went to bed.

What Could Have Happened to Lauren Spierer?

“We still have three scenarios that are still in play,” Ciravolo said. 

He said Spierer could have died independently and without the interference of anyone else, was killed by someone she knew, or she was abducted by a stranger.

"You have a young, barefoot, very petite young woman who may have had one too many drinks walking home on a dark street in a college town. And, having spent some time in Bloomington, there are a lot of unsavory characters roaming the streets at night. I roamed those streets at night looking for people like this, so that is a possibility," Ciravolo said.

Spierer also has a condition called Long QT Syndrome, a disorder that causes potentially dangerous irregular heartbeats and requires medication.

In September, the true-crime podcast series “Finding Lauren” was launched. The host and creator of the weekly show is Kyra Breslin, granddaughter of the legendary newspaper columnist, Jimmy Breslin.

Each week, Breslin explores the details of Spierer’s disappearance and interviews different experts who can offer a unique perspective into the case. She's spoken with a former homicide detective with the NYPD, a psychoanalyst that specializes in trauma, and Ciravolo himself.

Breslin is no stranger to Spierer’s story. Like Spierer, Breslin attended Indiana University in late August 2011, two months after Spierer disappeared. Like Spierer, Breslin had been a sophmore, as well. Their college life was similar. Both women lived in the same off-housing apartment units then known as Smallwood. Both women went to the same bars in downtown Bloomington and had mutual friends. 

“We walked in very similar shoes and it's hard to wrap your head around the fact that all these years have gone by and we still have no answers,” Breslin told Inside Edition Digital.

Going out to the bars in downtown, Bloomington, attending parties, drinking and staying out late with friends was all part of the culture, but the culture was forever affected by Spierer's disappearance. 

“Lauren Spierer’s disappearance was something that shaped my college experience and something that I have continued to think about,” Breslin said. “Her story affected so many people and it didn’t matter how close or how removed you were, it hit home for so many.”

Breslin told Inside Edition Digital that she only “ever heard of wonderful things about” Spierer. Spierer was involved with the Jewish community at IU, and “built a large loving circle of peers,” all of whom remain devastated by her disappearance. 

“The whole summer leading up to attending Indiana, Lauren’s disappearance was all anyone could talk about," Breslin said. "I felt like at the time, everyone seemed to know someone involved or have a theory on what happened. It was very unsettling.”

In the wake of Spierer's disappearance, undercover police and campus security became an even bigger fixture at IU. Students found using fake IDs were made examples of by local police, with many arrested and left in holding cells overnight, she said. 

Greek life was a large part of the campus life at IU, Breslin said. Sorority and fraternity houses also put different safety protocols in place, including the buddy system, where no one would travel alone. 

“Overall there was a feeling of unease and anxiety for many students,” she said. 

Many students and their parents were scared to come back to school. "My parents were very cautious after Lauren went missing. My mom kept on asking me, ‘Are you sure about this?’” she said of the day she moved into Smallwood, the same apartment complex Spierer had lived in. The building, which was massive and took up an entire street block, had “odd energy,” she said.

Missing posters and billboards with pictures of Spierer's face could be spotted around Bloomington for months. “Ever shop window. Every tree. Every bulletin on campus was a plea for help. It was heartbreaking,” she said. 

“It was daunting to think that this could have easily happened in a place we all felt so safe and so perfect,” she said. 

But eventually, life on campus went on. “There was an aspect of feeling like you are invincible and like something like this could never happen to you,” she said. 

Ten years later, though, Breslin knows that isn't the case. She's devoted considerable time on her podcast to discuss the party life at IU. 

It's “crucial for people to understand the mindset at the time and how much of a priority partying was for some students,” she said. 

The night she vanished, Spierer had reportedly appeared very intoxicated. Nine months before she went missing, Spierer had been arrested for public intoxication and after she disappeared, police found a small amount of cocaine in her room, according to ABC News. But that was not unique on campus, nor for many people Spierer's age. 

“You’re young. You want to have fun. Indiana was known for that, but this level of partying perpetuated many dangerous situations that didn’t start and end with Lauren,” Breslin said. “I wanted listeners to have a very clear understanding of this moment in time and to see how it could impair judgment, especially for people with Lauren that night.”

Breslin is now one of the many people searching for answers in the decade-long mystery of what happened to Spierer. 

“I thought if I could offer a new perspective of a college student living in similar circumstances, it might provide insight to the culture and bring attention back to this story," she said. 

Work on the Lauren Spierer Case Continues 

Ciravolo told Inside Edition Digital that over the last month he has been looking into some fresh leads that came in over the holidays. 

The hard-nosed private detective said his persistence after all these years is still critical. "I admire their strength [the Spierer Family] and their courage and I'm just not going to give up working on this case because I have a great deal of affection for that family, a great deal of respect. And, I feel like I owe it to them to give them the answer that they deserve," he said.

The Bloomington Police Department told Inside Editon Digital that "anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Lauren Spierer is urged to speak up."

Spierer's boyfriend, who reported her missing, or any of Spierer's friends who spent time with her the night she disappeared, did not respond to Inside Edition Digital’s request for comment.

Neither Spierer's boyfriend, who reported her missing, nor any of Spierer's friends who spent time with her the night she disappeared responded to Inside Edition Digital’s request for comment.

When reached by Inside Edition Digital, Charlene Spierer said, “We are still hopeful that we will get answers.”

Police have not made any arrests or have named any suspects at this time.

“As incredible as it sounds, I know the knowing might be worse than the not knowing,” she said.

Related Stories