Police expand search for Indiana college student

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Authorities are extending the police search for a 20-year-old Indiana University student beyond the city limits of Bloomington five days after she was last seen walking back to her apartment after a night out with friends.

Bloomington police Lt. Bill Parker said Wednesday that the whole city has been searched at least once, and some areas near the apartment of Lauren Spierer have been scoured for clues several times. Hundreds of volunteers have joined in search efforts this week, including family friends from out of state and other Indiana parents who have experienced the nightmare of a missing child.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is now helping Bloomington officers organize expanded searches looking for Spierer, a petite blonde from Greenburgh, N.Y., who just finished her sophomore year at IU. Parker said searches of the city will also continue.

Robert Spierer told reporters Wednesday that the family appreciates the hundreds of volunteers who have combed the college town since searches for his daughter began over the weekend. His wife, Charlene Spierer, wore an “IU Mom” T-shirt, and Lauren Spierer’s sister, Rebecca Spierer, stood nearby at the news conference as her father asked for more volunteers.

“We certainly need all the help we can get,” he said. “We will be working and doing whatever we have to do to find Lauren and bring her home.”

Police say Lauren Spierer went to a sports bar near her apartment with friends Thursday night, stopped back at her apartment building for a brief time and then went to a friend’s apartment. She left the friend’s apartment to walk home at about 4:30 a.m. Friday. Authorities say her friend watched Spierer walk to a corner near his apartment, but no one has seen her since.

Parker said investigators reviewing surveillance video from Spierer’s apartment building have found no signs of her being coerced or being made to do anything against her will. Police served a search warrant Tuesday evening to obtain the footage. Parker said police had already viewed the images but needed to get the original footage as evidence.

Robert Spierer told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that he has not seen the video and could not comment on it.

Police believe foul play is likely involved, but have no suspects in the case. Authorities are following up leads and have urged anyone with information to call police tip lines.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said on the social networking site Twitter that he is offering a $10,000 reward for serious information that solves the case. Celebrities have also been using social media to help spread word of the case. Television host Ryan Seacrest tweeted a photo of Spierer and wrote, “Let’s help find missing 20 yr old Lauren Spierer, last seen at Indiana U.” A Facebook page titled “Help Find Lauren Spierer - Missing from Indiana University” had more than 22,000 supporters Wednesday, many of whom wrote short prayers and well wishes.

Investigators have Spierer’s purse and some keys, which were found along the route to her friend’s apartment. Parker has said they aren’t sure whether Spierer left them on her way to or from her friend’s home. She left her cellphone and shoes in the bar, and Parker said her friends have told police she had been drinking that evening.

Fliers with Spierer’s photograph and a physical description of her are plastered around the 40,000-student Indiana University campus and the city of Bloomington, about 50 miles south of Indianapolis.

Eric Behrman, whose 19-year-old daughter Jill disappeared in May 2000 while on a bike ride near Bloomington, joined search parties on Tuesday. Jill Behrman’s skeletal remains were discovered three years later in a remote field about 15 miles from the city, and John R. Myers II was sentenced to 65 years in prison in her death.

Ron and Vicki Weiner, of New York, flew to Indiana to help their family friends in the search for Spierer. They joined search parties Wednesday after hugging Robert and Charlene Spierer, whom they’ve known for more than 25 years.

“We’re here to do whatever it is we can do to be helpful,” Ron Weiner said.

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