Police said Monday that they are trying to identify a vehicle whose driver may have information relevant to the disappearance of 20-year-old Indiana University student Lauren Spierer.
While Bloomington Police Department Capt. Joe Qualters stopped short of calling it a "suspect vehicle" or "vehicle of interest," he referred to it simply as "a vehicle that has come to our attention." He said that one of the surveillance cameras police have viewed from the early morning when Spierer was last seen on June 3 shows what appears to be the same vehicle twice.
Authorities are working to enhance the video to determine if it is indeed one vehicle or two, and if they can put together a specific and useful enough description to release to the public. Qualters said it appeared that the vehicle drove around the block on a "not heavily traveled street" around 4:15 am and police are curious about why.
"Did that individual drive around the block because perhaps they were responsible for something?" Qualters said at a press conference Monday.
Asked about a specific rumor regarding what happened to Spierer, Qualters said police have received a lot of information, but "I don't know that there's any possibility that's been ruled out."
Qualters, who took over as police spokesman on the case late last week, also used Monday's press conference to correct widespread media reports that there are 10 persons of interest. He said that number was thrown out initially at a press conference early last week, but "that is a number that changes every day."
Qualters detailed some additional steps investigators are now taking as their second full week on the case begins. They conducted helicopter flyovers of the area over the weekend to provide an aerial view of waterways, railroad tracks and rooftops, and they may do more flyovers in the future.
He said interviews are going to expand to "those that we would consider maybe a secondary tier of individuals.friends, associates and that type of thing" to find out more about Spierer and their persons of interest. Qualters had acknowledged over the weekend that police have not been able to interview everyone they would like and some may even have left Bloomington, but they cannot compel anyone to talk.
Lauren Spierer disappeared sometime after 3 am on June 3 after going out with friends to a bar, where she reportedly left her cell phone and shoes. Surveillance camera footage shows her and a male student returning to her apartment building around 2:30 am. Some sort of altercation with other people occurred there that led to the male student getting punched in the face, his attorney told local reporters, and he claims he has no memory of what happened after that.
Police have said additional surveillance video from an alley between Spierer's building and the male student's shows them walking toward his around 3 am. Her keys were later found in that alley. A neighbor of the male student reported seeing Spierer leave, heading back to her building around 4:30 am, but police have found no sign of her after the 3 am sighting on any of the surveillance video they have viewed from the blocks between the two buildings.
Attorneys for the male student seen with Spierer and his roommate have said they submitted DNA samples to authorities. Police would not comment last week on the statements the attorneys have made, nor would they disclose anything about contact Spierer may have had with her boyfriend the night she disappeared-other than to acknowledge that he too is among their persons of interest.
Despite being 10 days into the investigation with little clear indication of what may have happened to Spierer, Qualters denied that the case was in danger of going cold. He said dozens of tips had come in since America's Most Wanted aired a segment on Spierer over the weekend.
Robert Spierer, Lauren's father, echoed that sentiment later in the press conference, saying that "we're obviously not giving up hope." Volunteers will be conducting two searches per day this week, and Qualters said a search expert from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has arrived to assist investigators.
Speaking of anyone who may be holding his daughter, Spierer said "we're just hoping that that person sees us, hears us and can come forward to help us get our daughter." He thanked the hundreds of volunteers who have participated in searches, calling their help "a testament to the human spirit."
Every morning, Spierer said, when he and his wife wake up, "our only task is a simple one: to find my daughter."
Anyone with information regarding Lauren Spierer is asked to contact the Bloomington Police Department at 812-339-4477. Last week, Spierer's parents announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to her return.