The search for Lauren Spierer

Reflections from friends, old and new

We are posting selected notes from friends, thoughts from search volunteers, and positive thoughts about Lauren. To submit, send comments to reflectionsforlauren@gmail.com.


To the Parents of Lauren:

I write to you this evening not as a friend of the family, but as someone who can be classified as one of the thousands (if not millions) of people who support you from a distance. Your pain is unimaginable to me so I won't pretend to understand for a moment how you feel. I hope and pray that this case not only has a conclusion, but a happy one at that.

My job requires me to travel to universities across the Midwest and this week I find myself at Indiana University. As I was driving along N. College toward downtown today, I noticed a sign marking Lauren's disappearance. I subsequently saw several other signs just like it throughout the day. At a gas station, I noticed a faded but still legible sign broadcasting Lauren's disappearance. While the natural of course of life finds the names and faces of people changing from year to year on any campus, I can assure you what you surely already know - this community has not forgotten your daughter. While I was poignantly aware of Lauren's disappearance when it broke in June of 2011, I must admit that, like thousands of other news stories before and after that, Lauren's case has faded a bit from my mind. After seeing her face in so many places today, I decided to get my laptop out and re-familiarize myself with Lauren's story.

As I write to you, I have come to find out that I am actually sitting in a hotel room not more than two blocks from Lauren's apartment. Being so close to her building and the other points of interest from that night, I would love to find something, ANYTHING, that would help break this case. If that path hasn't been combed over once I'm sure it's been combed over a million times. But it's worth going out of my way a couple blocks tomorrow if, for no other reason, just to take a look. I am not an investigator or a member of any law enforcement agency for that matter. What I am is a father of two children, and what I think a case like Lauren's does is forms a bond between all dads whether we know them or not. I think fathers form the world's largest fraternity and when one of our brothers is suffering, we want to help him - no matter how small the deed may seem.

Charlene, in my reading about Lauren's case, I read the open letter you wrote to whomever or whoever is responsible for Lauren's disappearance. As moving and as powerful as that letter was, I must disagree with you on one point. You seem to cast a doubt as to whether or not this letter would do any good - and I can understand how and why you feel that way. I don't need to tell you this but those letters cannot stop coming. It's easy to conclude that this person has no soul, but if he does, your letters can go a long way to that soul being exposed. I couldn't be any less involved in this case - and this letter stirred all kinds of emotions in ME. Just think what it would do to the person or persons responsible. If he has a soul, if he has a conscience, if he has one good deed remaining during his life, this type of pressure from you could be the key. I honestly believe with all my heart that these types of communications from you are not lost
cause measures.

One thing I do know for sure. Lauren Spierer's story will not leave me anytime soon. It's one thing to see it on the news or read about it somewhere from a distance. It's quite another thing to actually be sitting here in the shadow of where, whatever may have happened, took place. For some reason, it just takes on an entirely new meaning. I won't hear her name or see it in print again without doing a double take. I hope everyone who sees these signs on campus has a continuing or renewed interest in her case. From my angle, this community is doing all it can to make sure that happens. I pray for the day that I turn on the TV and there you are hugging Lauren with your eyes swelled with tears of joy. May your days of hope outnumber your days of despair. I will think of you often. God Bless.

B. Dwyer , Caring Father

Our families have been friends since you moved here when Lauren and I were in first grade. I have memories of the two of us writing stories, playing in my back yard during play dates, and years of hebrew school and yom kippurs together at my house. While it had been awhile since Lauren and I hung out when she went missing, it struck me in a way that was unlike anything else. Suddenly, there wasn't enough we could do for our long-time friends. Not enough mail to take in, not enough texts to send, not enough offers to go to the store, would possibly make the pain you still feel ease.

Coming up on a year later, I still have dreams about Lauren. I'll wake up and feel scared and confused that Lauren, a missing childhood friend, was showing up in my dreams. While it doesn't happen often, it's no less chilling and confusing each time.

After talking to my parents, two of your closest friends, I realized the reason Lauren was in my dreams is because still today, Lauren is everywhere. She's been missing for almost two years, but her memory is everywhere. She is still in pictures, in magazines, in tweets, Instagrams, Facebook posts, she's also on the "MISSING" tag that hangs off of the black North Face backpack I used for class since my return to school the fall following her disappearance. I think about her every time a friend says he or she wants to go home. My response now is always, "we'll both/all go." I think about her every time I considered walking home from campus because "it's only a five minute walk." Lauren has taught me and everyone else I love, that you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting the people who mean the most.

It feels strange to write you like this, you've known me since Lauren and I were chubby cheeked and missing teeth, and now I'm teaching full time, and about to graduate. I guess in my reflective state as a senior, I am once again remembering how life could be so different depending on the little choices you make everyday. I hope one day soon, the people responsible for Lauren's disappearance make the right choice to come forward. The choice to help should have been the obvious, small choice, that would lead to answers. Hoping today is the day.

Rebecca Gordon , Family Friend

Spierer family,

I have sat down to write to you many of times, but never fully knowing exactly what to say. June 3, 2011 burns in my mind as if it were yesterday. I was graduating high school that day, moving on to the unfamiliar and unknown. I was born and raised in Bloomington, I absolutely love my town. However after Laurens disappearance I question my town, the people in it, and how something so ugly can happen here. While my friends were out doing the usual after graduation celebration I returned home early, Lauren had been on my mind all day. Hearing the details of her disapperance the following days worried me, and made me feel uneasy going out in my once trusted town of Bloomington. However at this point I am angry. Someone knows exactly where Lauren is, yet they are holding back their information that could easily help end your painstaking search. I am now a sophmore in college in southern Indiana. As I return home to Bloomington for breaks I am constantly reminded of Lauren and her spirit all over town. Many stores, restruants, gyms, etc have Laurens posters out on their front windows. Even when I am not in Bloomington I am reminded of Lauren, I pray for the day that we get answers about the night of June 3, 2011. I have followed Laurens case from day one, constantly reading articles, watching videos or even just sitting at my desk dreaming of the day that the truth comes out. I am a criminal justice/sociology double major, I bring up Lauren every chance I get in class and share her story with my classmates. The pain and heartbreak that your family has been forced to go through is not fair, but justice will be served. Someone, some day, is going to break. They will finally wake up and see that they need to tell someone what happend, and when they do speak up the town of Bloomington as well as the rest of America will be thinking of your family, as well as sweet Lauren.

Best wishes,

Kaytlyn , Supporter

It has been about one year since I last wrote an email about Lauren. Now it has been about two years since I met Lauren. We spent ten glorious days together in Israel. Together we lived, learned, and worked with our bare hands to benefit Israel. As I read over my last email, it seems so long ago that I wrote it. So much time as past, so much I want to update Lauren on. I know you informed me that Lauren thought about going abroad to Israel, and it does not surprise me because of her passion for the country. She was so happy for those ten days, I will never forget her smile. Right now I am abroad in Italy, and my friends are about to visit me on spring break here. Two years ago I went to Israel for my spring break, not knowing that I would meet Lauren and she would forever alter my life. I have religiously followed her story since day one, and two years later, I haven't stopped, and I will never stop. I watch everything on TV, post about it everywhere and make sure everyone I know, knows that I know Lauren. Her story, her life, and her legacy will never be forgotten.
When I moved to Italy, I moved in with three girls whom I had never met before. As we were all sitting around during dinner one evening, they mentioned staying safe in Italy because of Lauren Spierer. My head shot up, and I asked them if they know her. They were surprised by my reaction, and continued to tell me that they do not know her, but they have followed her story since the beginning and Lauren has changed their lives, along with all of their friends (they go to 3 different schools across America). They told me that they had never met anyone before who actually knows Lauren and they were interested to speak with me about her. We spent the entire evening talking about her, but mostly about my experiences with her. I always speak of Lauren with a high head, and laugh about the great times we had together for those ten days. Although they questioned me about her current situation, I tried to focus them on who I know her as. These three girls showed me that Lauren has touched so many more people than I will ever know. That night when I went to bed, she was on my mind more that usual, and I know it was because her story is still being told. And may it forever to told.
At school, I help run freshmen orientation. I make sure to tell Lauren's story to ever freshmen I help adjust to my university. Her story is so important, and I want to inform every young person I can. I also tell them about the admiration I have for the Spierer family that cannot truly be put into words. This is a situation is something no family should ever have to face. Yet, the writing you have produced is beautiful to read. I respect your family so much. Charlene, specifically, I look up to you more than you can ever understand. You are so brave and I think that manner in which you have handled yourself in the public eye is remarkable.
This summer will be my first time back to Israel since I was there two years ago with Lauren. Her presence will be with me everyday. Even though I think about her daily, I know that this summer she will be with me as I walk through the land that she adored so dearly. She appreciated Israel for all it was. It was my third time in Israel, but I know it was her first and I loved getting to watch her experience Israel for the first time. The joy Israel brought her made me feel like it was my first time all over again. This time when I stand at the kotel, I know she will be standing beside me.
Spreading the word about Lauren is very important. I will never stop. I will never stop praying. I will never stop loving her. I will never stop posting about Lauren on facebook. I will never stop tweeting about her. I will never stop believing in her. I will never stop, I cannot stop. Lauren is amazing and beautiful inside and out. Lauren will come home. I know she will. She must. I will never stop. No one will ever stop. Because our love for her will never weaken. Our support of you and your family will never falter. The determination to find Lauren is so strong. We will never stop until Lauren is brought home where she belongs.

I hope to day is the day.

Sincerely,
Lauren Kaufman

Lauren Kaufman , Friend of Lauren's

Thinking of Lauren

I have thought about emailing you, Lauren's parents, quite a few times over the past year, and for some reason I have decided on a whim that today is the day. I never knew Lauren personally, and therefore I cannot share with you any personal stories or memories I have of her. What I can tell you is that although I didn't personally know your daughter, and neither did my friends, she is someone who is remembered by my group of friends at birthday dinners, backyard BBQ's, graduation parties, through IM conversations, and all of the like. We all know someone who somehow is linked to Lauren, and we all keep her alive through sharing updates we find on the web, news stories, links or videos, etc. I really cannot tell you the countless times we have all sat back and reflected on Lauren and your family. I can say for myself that I wish I had been her friend that night, because I know I would have been there for her. Lauren's story has inspired me to be a better person and to live my life more cautiously. I think twice before I go out at night, I think twice before having another drink, and I think twice before I trust someone to be my friend. I pray for you and your family that you will get answers today. And not a day later.

When I first heard about Lauren Spierer and her disapearance, I was just beginning a summer internship at Fox Cable Networks. As the weeks of my internship moved along, I started a routine each morning. Each morning I got to work I would sit at my desk and read every update I could on your daughter, gain as much information as possible, and keep her in my memory throughout the day. I followed the account on twitter, liked the page on facebook, and tried to bring a piece of her with me, even in the smallest gesture, throughout my daily life. When following Lauren's case, I am reminded that she is a person, a human being. She isn't a news story or an article, and I try and remember that when following her case. My internship ended at the end of last August, and I went back to the University of Maryland to complete my senior year. Lauren helped me get through my senior year by taking more safety precautions than I would have if I hadn't learned about her story. I would sleep at friends houses just a block away to avoid walking home alone, or I would walk with 9-1-1 dialed into my phone at a moments notice. Now, I have graduated college and I have landed my first job, where I sit at my desk exactly a year later, writng you this email, researching Lauren's case.

I have the more sincere and warmest well wishes to you and your family. No family should ever have to go through this horrible nightmare, and I want you to know that I will continue to keep Lauren alive by carrying her with my everyday. My greatest hopes are that she is returned home safely to you. Until then, Lauren is truly blessed to have such an amazing family who will never give up. I admire Rob, Charlene, and Rebecca. I know my email offers very little consolation, but I wanted to share with you that we are still thinking of Lauren. We still carry her with us. And we too, have not forgotten.

With your family in my thoughts and prayers,
Melissa Gaber

Melissa Gaber

I wanted to share with Lauren's parents something that struck me in the USA Today piece this week. No matter what is learned someday about Lauren's disappearance, her family needs to know that Bloomington will never be "back to normal." We may have to someday accept a "new normal" but having come to know Lauren through her family and the media, we will be forever changed by the mark she was making on the world and in our community.

Students like Lauren bring a youth and energy to our community that is priceless. Each and every student leaves Bloomington having left a special mark on those of us who call Bloomington home even after our undergraduate years.

Those long, hot days in Bloomington last June when we joined in searches calling her precious name into the brush and woods and yards and streets about Bloomington, we each desperately wanted to bring wonderful news back to her family. Those wishes and hopes have not changed.

Lauren will always be in our hearts and Bloomington will always be the better for what she shared of herself with us while she was here.

Thank you for sharing Lauren with us.
The Meunier Family

The Meunier Family , Volunteer

To be completely honest, I'm not sure what I want to say to you all.

I guess I'll start my explaining my relation to Lauren. I am a student at the University of Iowa, and I had the privilege of spending my spring break with Lauren this past March in Israel. While Lauren and Rebecca were not on my bus, I spent everyday with both of them, working and volunteering during our spring break time off from school.
I could tell right away that she was a fun, uplifting, and generous person. During our nightly free time, we would all gather together in our hostel or hotel and socialize. There were a few nights in particular where I stayed up with a group of people, Lauren being one of them. I cannot say that either Lauren or Rebecca know me all that well, however, Lauren's disappearance has touched me immensely.

One of my friends from the trip (who happens to be from New York and attends Indiana University as well) called me the day that Lauren went missing. She was also spending her summer at IU and was extremely distraught. She explained to me that she was coming to Chicago because the feeling of being in Bloomington was absolutely unbearable. Nicole made her way to the north suburbs and we sat at a restaurant, speechless. There were nothing to say to each other, nothing to fill the void of a fellow Alternative Spring Break participant that had gone missing. We both had so many questions and so many different emotions. Not a day goes by that I don't think about Lauren... her smile, her pep, and her zest for life.

The past four years that I have spent on a big ten campus have been nothing short of amazing. I, myself, have been guilty of walking home from the bars late at night, alone. I honestly never thought twice about it. Iowa City is mainly a safe environment, like Bloomington, but all it takes is one second for something to go wrong. Since Lauren's disappearance, my awareness on campus has heightened immensely. I make sure that I am never walking alone at night, and I also warn my friends of the dangers that this can possess. If one of my friends wants to leave the bars at night, I make sure to leave with her so that neither of us will have to walk alone. Also, when I'm studying late at the library I make sure to have a ride or a friend to walk home with. Even during broad daylight, I am aware of my surroundings to and from class. What happened to Lauren is constantly on my mind.

I am not a parent, so I cannot possibly understand the pain and struggles that you are experiencing every second of everyday. I am a sister, however, and the thought of my brother or sister vanishing without a trace makes me nauseous. I do want to let you all know that I think of you always. I feel for you, and pray for the best. You all have so much strength and integrity. Charlene, watching you speak on the live stream of #Shine4Lauren brought tears to my eyes. You have so much "Chutspah" as my mother would say. I read all of the newsletters your family writes and try to stay in the know as much as possible. Please don't give up!!
WE WILL #FINDLAUREN!
All of my love and support from Deerfield, IL,
Abby Topel

Abby , Friend from Alternative Spring Break Trip 2011

Around 5 years ago I went to a summer program at UCLA where I first encountered Lauren... or Spierer as everyone would call her. She went there with a lot of her camp friends whom she had been acquainted with for a while. I went alone to UCLA we lived on the same floor, after some time we realized we had a lot in common. She invited me in to her group of friends, we became very close.. After that summer I came to visit her in NY and to her old job at LF as she was so fond of fashion, we kept in contact for a while. Spierer was a great friend to me, we listened to the same music, we talked shop, boys, and life. She was one of my best memories from that summer. When I first heard about her disappearance my heart dropped- as I'm sure most peoples did. One never thinks stuff like that can happen so close to home. I still cant come to terms with it, I feel sad, scared, and distraught by this. That summer 5 years ago felt like yesterday and June 3rd also feels like yesterday... yet after those long and excruciating months there is still no sign. But i still have faith. I have faith in Lauren. Not a day nor a minute goes by where I'm not thinking about Lauren. I have not been able to express or articulate how close to home this hit. As we go on with our everyday lives we tend to forget how fortunate we are and take for granted the people we care about but we must NOT. Lauren has a very special place in my heart, we must NOT forget about Lauren and we must NOT lose faith.

To her family,
ALL my heart and prayers are with you guys. I can't even begin to imagine the pain or emptiness you feel, but please know you are not alone. Keep strong as your determination and cultivation is proof to us all that we will not stop till she is found.

Natasha , Friend of Lauren's

About one year ago next week would mark one year since I met Lauren. Lauren and I met on our spring break trip to Israel. I remember thinking that her and Rebecca were twins because they were both blonde, small and looked so similar. Right away Lauren and Rebecca included me in their two-some. I went on the trip alone and they did not know anyone either. We ate our meals together, sat together on the bus and even walked the streets together that night. By Lauren and Rebecca accepting me, they welcomed me into the trip and made it so much more enjoyable. I will forever be thankful for that. Lauren, Rebecca and I were continuously placed in the same volunteer group throughout the trip and spent every second we could together. When the group moved to Jerusalem, Lauren was one of my two roommates (our other roommate Sara sends her love). The 3 of us had a blast in Israel and loved every second. Lauren is so full of life. She loved Israel and especially spending time with her sister. It is unbelievable to me that so much time has passed. It seems like just yesterday that Lauren and I got our ears pierced together, or celebrated Purim together in Jerusalem. Me, being dark skinned with dark hair and tall, and Lauren who was small with pale skin and blue eyes, we were complete opposites. Yet we were the Laurens of the trip and we constantly had that connection.
I returned from Israel with plans to visit Lauren this year at IU, and meet her in the city that summer. Being from Albany, and Sara from Jersey, the three of us were so excited to meet up again. I have to admit, our trip was only 10 days. But to me that does not really matter. Those 10 days were so much fun and Lauren was a vital part of that. She brightened my strenuous labor, made my meals hysterical, and turned my evenings into a blast of fun. She is in every one of my pictures and I love looking back and seeing the smile on her face. I have continued to follow her story very closely and so have my friends and family.
Spreading the word about Lauren is very important. I will never stop. I will never stop praying. I will never stop loving her. I will never stop posting about Lauren on facebook. I will never stop tweeting about her. I will never stop believing in her. I will never stop, I cannot stop. Lauren is amazing and beautiful inside and out. Lauren will come home. I know she will. She must. I will never stop. No one will ever stop. Because our love for her will never weaken. Our support of you and your family will never falter. The determination to find Lauren is so strong. We will never stop until Lauren is brought home where she belongs.
Thank you for raising such an amazing person who has impacted my life in ways that words cannot describe.
I will love her forever. I will never stop.

Sincerely,
Lauren Kaufman

Lauren Kaufman , Friend of Lauren's and Rebecca's

Dearest Rob and Charlene,
I wanted to reach out, as a parent, and say kudos for succinctly and concisely stating, to her abductors, what they have done. I simply admire the courage and absolute resolve to say to these persons “What right do you have”. Not as victims, but as the protectors we all become when we bring a child into this world. Not to a memory, but to a living breathing part of ourselves. Some in the media call the letter an emotional letter; I see it as specific statement of what life has become when these persons intruded on a life course you and your daughter set out on when she came into this life. I cannot come close to knowing this path you are on but I know it is profound and cannot be explained in words what it means to not have Lauren with you. My heart, my soul, the core of what is shared between a mom and a child is with you at this very moment. I will pray for your sustained strength and resolve. And the continued bravery Lauren must show in these days until she is returned to you.
Deepest Regards,
Bernadette Czegledy
Placentia CA

Bernadette Czegledy