Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Did Bloomington Police Wait Four Weeks To Search The Obvious?


The case of missing IU student Lauren Spierers has pretty much reached the full media saturation point, at least locally. I'm a little surprised the cable news stations haven't been covering it like they did in the cases of Lacy Peterson and Natalie Holloway when they first went missing. Bloomington Police Department has had a spotlight shining on their every move, and they've conducted regular press briefings to give the impression they're really on top of the case. What I found a little bit surprising today was this news report on Fox 59 News tonight indicating BPD was only today conducting searches of the apartments of the several men who were known to have been with Spierers on the night she went missing, as well as her boyfriend's home. You're not searching the homes of the persons of interest until the four-week mark of her disappearance? As I understand it from reading other news reports, most of these guys cleared out their personal belongings and left town shortly after Spierers' disappearance and lawyered up. BPD is using canines in their search of these individuals' premises. You would have thought they would have brought out the canines the weekend following her disappearance, not one month after the fact.

The Bloomington Herald-Times has more on the searches conducted here. HT reports the police and Spierers' parents are planning a press conference for tomorrow, the first BPD has held in a week.


fciha7 said...

Where has the Bloomington Police Chief been in all of this? Not one public appearance or press conference.

Jeff Cox said...


It's not clear if this was the first search of the residences by Bloomington Police, though I'm guessing given the media coverage a prior search would have been mentioned somewhere.

If this is indeed BPD's first search of the apartments, a possible explanation is that they legally could not do so until now. While the "persons of interest" actually resided in those apartments, they had 4th Amendment protections, meaning the police could not enter without a warrant. It might be that the police could not produce probable cause for a search warrant -- remember, this started out as a missing persons investigation, not a criminal one -- and the police could not get consent to a search. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression these men have not been entirely helpful in finding Spierers, so it would not surprise me if they did not consent to a search.

BPD may thus have had to wait until the guys moved out, thereby removing the 4th Amendment proections from the apartments, to search.

Advance Indiana said...

It wouldn't surprise me if the police department down there like most small towns in Indiana is under the thumb of drug dealers. Jeff, Why would they need a search warrant after they moved out the weekend after she went missing. That's my understanding. If the landlord consented, it would seem to me that they could search the vacated residences without a search warrant. Am I missing something here? Even if the apartments were still occupied they could take the canines in the common areas without a search warrant. The canines wouldn't have to actually enter the apartments or living space to pick up a scent. I would point out that Rossman, the guy who escorted her to Kilroys that night, while he did hire Carl Saltzman as his defense lawyer, very early on consented to giving police his DNA sample and told them what he knew, unlike the other persons of interest. It's obvious from their statements that her parents believe the people who were considered her best friends have been less than cooperative in the investigation, and that seems to include her female roommate. Virtually all of the persons of interest come from very wealthy Jewish families. A good friend of mine who is Jewish communicated this opinion to me: "Sad, but IU for most Jewish people I know is a place they go to party. I'm not saying that's the case for others, just the Jewish kids I know from here who went there, and that's why they went. Sounds like this guy and the missing girl fit that to a T." It seems some of these people of interest were members of the Jewish fraternity that got kicked off campus a couple of years ago for hazing violations.

Jeff Cox said...


I'm not sure what you mean by "under the thumb of drug dealers." Bought off? Overwhelmed? There have been rumors of cocaine use by Spierers and her "friends." That may explain the apparent reluctance of these friends to help find her inasmuch as they may not want to implicate themselves for drug possession or intent to distribute. Many of them do seem to be acting as if they have something to hide.

Like I said earlier, Bloomington police were treating this as a missing persons case with the intent of finding Spierers alive. That takes a different investigative track than if you have a crime with physical evidence. It can result in not getting evidence of a crime in a timely manner. I like to think the police can walk and chew gum at the same time, but most departments do have only limited resources.

Other than these theories I can't explain why it took BPD so long. Not sure I'd be too hard on BPD just yet, though. I wonder about the use of the dogs in the apartments. Were they looking for Spierers' scent or something else?

I can't comment on IU being a "party school." I did my undergrad at Ohio State, and even back then I preferred burying myself in history books to getting drunk. My experience has been, though, that college partying cuts across all social and ethnic classes.

Cato said...

Cops write tickets and bust people for drugs so they can steal their property. They're clueless on how to do real police work.

They never solve a real crime without a tip.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Jeff Cox, your response is spot on.
Cato, you are a buffoon.

Cato said...

Bull, Cox. In the wake of Jill Beerman, BPD cannot afford to be caught flat-footed with another missing coed. They look horrible in this case.

CT, hahahahahahahahaha. You're on the wrong side of reality, again.