Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Spierer Family Lawsuit Against Former IU Students Dismissed

The disappearance of Lauren Spierer, an undergraduate student at Indiana University, on June 3, 2011 remains as much of a mystery as the day we first learned of her disappearance following a night of drinking with several male friends in Bloomington. The questionable handling of the case by Bloomington Police and Indiana State Police investigators may never yield answers that will unravel the unsolved case to bring closure for her parents. Efforts by Spierer's parents to find justice through a civil lawsuit have met a similar fate. Judge Tanya Walton-Pratt has dismissed on summary judgment a negligence and Dram Shop Act violation claims against two defendants, Corey Rossman and Jason Rosenbaum, two IU students who were in Spierer's company on the night she disappeared. Judge Pratt earlier dismissed a wrongful death claim against the two and another IU student, Mike Beth.

Essentially, Spierer's claim against Rossman and Rosenbaum was dismissed because they were unable to designate sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that the underaged Spierer's intoxication on the night in question was the proximate cause of her injury or death. Spierer's attorneys belatedly tried to save their case from dismissal on summary judgment by claiming they had not had an adequate opportunity to conduct discovery that would establish a genuine issue of material fact that could be considered by the jury. Judge Pratt rejected their assertion, noting that the plaintiffs' attorneys had never requested additional time to respond to the defendants' summary judgment request and had even told the magistrate handling the case that additional discovery was not necessary to respond to the defendants' summary judgment motion. Spierer's attorneys also could not point to any information they anticipated uncovering during discovery that would create a genuine issue of fact.

Spierer's attorneys had offered an affidavit of a medical expert who would testify that her state of intoxication seriously diminished her mental and physical capacity to establish liability on the part of the defendants for allowing her to walk home on her own. Oddly, the plaintiffs never named Kilroy's Sports Bar as one of the defendants in the suit. Rossman had taken Spierer to Kilroy's that night and purchased alcohol for her there. When the two left the bar around 2:30 a.m., Spierer was observed to be highly intoxicated. She left without her shoes or cell phone. The two headed to her apartment before later going to Rossman's apartment. When Rossman's roommate, Mike Beth, got home around 3:30 a.m., he found Spierer in a highly intoxicated state and took her to Rosenbaum's apartment. Spierer later left Rosenbaum's apartment around 4:30 a.m. on her own to head to head back to her apartment when she disappeared.

It's always been my theory that Spierer likely fell and struck her head at some point during the night and suffered a severe head injury. She likely died while in the presence of whoever was with her last. That person panicked and disposed of her body rather than call police and answer questions about her death. Speculate is all we can do at this point since no body has ever been recovered and nobody has come forward with evidence to explain her disappearance.

When I was growing up in Marshall, Illinois, a farmer in our town, Fred Grabbe, strangled to death his wife, Charlotte, and burned her body down along the Wabash River and then threw her remains into the river. Her disappearance went unsolved for years until Grabbe's former girlfriend turned on him and provided testimony against him. The girlfriend had witnessed Grabbe strangle his wife, have sex with her dead body one last time and then using a grease gun to pump her body cavities full of grease before throwing her body in a 50 gallon barrel, driving her to the river, pouring diesel fuel on her body and then setting it on fire. The prosecution actually found an expert witness on trees from the University of Illinois who testified that he could explain stress damage to the tree under which Charlotte's body was burned to a fire that occurred near the date by examining the tree's rings. The case took an odd twist after Grabbe was found guilty and awaiting sentencing. Another girlfriend of Grabbe barged into the Clark Co. Jail where he was being held, shot a deputy and tried to spring Grabbe from jail before being overpowered. Shortly after he was sentenced, both his and his son's houses mysteriously burst into flames simultaneously and burned to the ground. His son, Jeff, was later found dead floating off the coast of Long Beach, California. Jeff's killer was never determined. The arson remains unsolved as well. Maybe someday a person's conscience will lead them to come forward with the truth about the disappearance of Lauren Spierer.

The Indiana Law Blog has posted the summary judgment opinion here.


Anonymous said...

"It's always been my theory that Spierer likely fell and struck her head at some point during the night and suffered a severe head injury. She likely died while in the presence of whoever was with her last. That person panicked and disposed of her body rather than call police and answer questions about her death."

I don't see that, Gary. Being small has its advantages, principally that you don't get as hurt when you fall as a bigger person. Further, falls are only occasionally fatal, even less so for the young.

Further, she was in the company of clueless rich kids who were also bombed. It's unlikely they could become so competent as body disposal, so quickly, especially during a night of partying.

Under questioning, it's likely that a dirty rich kid would fold and seek the best deal he could get.

We need to look elsewhere.

Who had the means, motive and opportunity to lure a young female to their car and to ensure that the young female was never seen again and that the abductor would never face police questioning?

Gary R. Welsh said...

According to a key witness, Lauren Spierer had an encounter with a mysterious man before she went missing, has learned. has spoken to the witness who says she saw an extremely inebriated Lauren Spierer with the man at 3:38 a.m on Friday, June 3 at the corner of 10th St. and College Ave. in downtown Bloomington. At one point the man slung Lauren over his shoulder.

Police have not acknowledged the incident.

According to the witness, who works as a manager at a local bar, Lauren Speirer was incoherent, her eyes nearly closed and at one point she fell and banged her head.

The witness describes the mystery man as dark-skinned, about 5 feet, nine inches, 160 pounds, defined facial bone-structure and pointed, thin, rounded sideburns. She says he was wearing a polo-style shirt.

The witness has been interviewed by the Bloomington police department and was called-back for a second meeting in which a police artist drew-up a sketch.

The witness was shown a photo lineup and she says none of the six or so photos, presumably Spierer’s friends who have been named persons of interest, matched the mystery man.

The witness has viewed a photo of Corey Rossman, the Indiana University student who was with Spierer at Kilroy’s Sports Bar and at both their apartments that night, and she says she does not believe Rossman is the man who she saw with Spierer that night.

“She was completely out of it,” the witness told, “I had just come off work so I was totally sober. The guy was like, can I take you home, and she couldn’t even answer.”

The timing of the witness’s spotting is crucial. She says she noted the exact time, for some reason, after she encountered Lauren. She is adamant that it was exactly 3:38am. Bloomington police today released a timeline that places Lauren in an alley between 10th and 11th streets at 2:51 a.m. with a man who they will not identify. They say that is the last corroboration that they have of Lauren’s whereabouts.

Anonymous said...

You can bet the "boys" know the truth. Of course,in Indiana, money does buy "protection". Look at the Judge Coleman/Fatality/Herff Jones case. Look no further than the "gentle" handling of Irsay's misdeeds.

If I had the resources and this was my daughter,I would hire a "mercenary" defense contracting company with foreign staff that isn't exactly accustomed to handling their subjects with "gentleness". Round up all the players simultaneously and have a little heart to heart little pow wow. In fact,perhaps after an hour or so of a few examples of the interrogation skills acquired by the contractors provided toward the miscreants....maybe then the truth will come out.

Whomever the culprit,it's someone with some clout. The BPD seemed to go out of their way to give comfort and accommodate the persons of interest. Plus,the Mayor of Bloomington was conspicuously silent whilst the case was in the spotlight. Hell,even Jim Irsay came out from the shadows and was donating $10,000 as a reward for information.

Btw,for those who can't believe a few college guys couldn't get rid of a body and fool police effectively...Well.It's done all the time by folks with less intellect than this particular group of college boys.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Former Marion Co. Deputy Prosecutor Terry Record only served two years on home detention after he downed numerous shots at Brad's Brass Flamingo strip club and plowed his BMW into a pick-up truck driven by a 46-year old father and killed him. He was involved in at least two other drunk driving hit-and-run cases that he walked away from without charges before that. On one occasion, he struck a pedestrian downtown and fled. On another occasion, he rolled his vehicle after getting drunk up in Broad Ripple and then later false reported it as stolen.

Anonymous said...

ab10th and College is not in Downtown Bloomington.

When I hear a woman describe someone as 5'9", 160 lbs. in a polo shirt, I have to check further, because it sounds like she's describing her preferred male.

Anonymous said...

"You can bet the "boys" know the truth."

Actually, I think that's closed-minded thinking that hurts investigations.

It doesn't hurt to treat them like they know the truth and lean on them for all you can, but I wouldn't bet on them being the perp(s).

Indy Rob said...

10th and College is only about 4 blocks away from Kilroys Sports Bar. And if Bloomington downtown is centered around the Monroe county courthouse, 10th and college is only about 4 blocks north of there.

It is not unreasonable to think that Lauren could have walked to 10th and college that night. It is also not unreasonable to think that Lauren died from a head injury, she was seen falling several times that night, and could have fallen again. Then again, she was a small girl who was very, very drunk, and could have died of alcohol poisoning.

This is a tragedy, I am not sure that anyone killed Lauren, but someone did hide her body.

MikeC said...

I find it hard to believe that several young men with no experience could orchestrate the hiding and/or disposal of a body (which decomposes quickly and noticeably) on such short notice at 4 in the morning while drunk, high, and/or sleep deprived on a sultry night without there being actionable evidence available a few hours later, which was when her disappearance was reported. On top of that, I would think that one would spill something useful to the police and/or turn on the other(s).

Of course, the cops haven't released to the public what evidence they do have that has led the Spierers to believe with certainty that these young men know what happened to her. (I seem to recall rumors that the cops found some kind of stain on the floor of the last guy's dorm room.... but it could have been just rumor.)

That they believe this is clear. This is why I think that they didnt go after Kilroys. They dont care about Kilroys. Kilroys won't give them info as to what happened to her. They hoped this lawsuit would force at least one of them to talk.

My own belief is that when she rounded the corner onto College avenue heading south to her apartment.... alone and drunk.... some dude(s) in a pickup who weren't done partying that night liked what they saw, scooped her up, and sped south on College clean out of town.

Anonymous said...

Re: MikeC

That's a brilliant summary,Mike.

You find it highly improbable for a handful of wasted college boys to have the ability to effectively dump a body....Yet,you have no problem believing a different group of wasted party types could have the ability to dump the body.

Oh,wait! It's the PU truck that makes all of the difference! (face-palm) Golly,gee,perhaps ISIS is the culprit? Gosh darn it,Mike! You done solved the case! That's brilliant. You should send a resume to BPD immediately. They'll probably hire you sight unseen!

Detective MikeC:" I approached the suspects and each of them told me to f*ck off and they were not going to answer any of my questions."

BPD Chief:" Did you apologize profusely?"

MikeC:" I did Sir. I made it very clear to them that I was very sorry for the inconvenience."

Chief:"That's good. As far as I'm concerned, I'll interpret their indignation as innocence."

MikeC: "Yes,I've come to the very same conclusion,Sir. There's no reason to bother them further."

Debbie said...

Has anyone thought about the possibility that she is still alive but caught up into human trafficking and was sold as a sex slave? That possibility is more believable and highly likely as human trafficking is big in central Illinois and Indiana. You may never find her, but never stop looking.