By Russ McQuaid & Ann Keil
5:26 PM EDT, June 9, 2011
Witnesses to an altercation that happened right before IU student Lauren Spierer disappeared spoke out Thursday night as search efforts continued.
Spierer hasn't been seen since 4:30 a.m. Friday, June 3, when a man identified as Jay Rosenbaum told Bloomington Police he saw the 20-year-old co-ed walk away from his apartment in the 200 block of 11th Street. He said Spierer turned the corner at College Avenue to head south toward her apartment three blocks away at Smallwood Plaza.
It was approximately two hours earlier, at 2:40 a.m., a witness told Fox59 News that Spierer and a friend, Corey Rossman, returned to her apartment building after closing down Kilroy's Sports Bar.
This witness told Fox59 News that Spierer appeared intoxicated and Rossman was paying what could be described as, "inappropriate," attention to her.
According to his attorney, Corey Rossman woke up with a sore jaw, bruises on his face and little knowledge about what had happened the night before.
"Someone punches you in the head, you have the possibility of a concussion," Attorney Carl Salzmann said.
Whether he knew it or not, apartment officials said Rossman was not to be allowed inside.
"We do have a no trespass list that does exist. There is a list of people who have historically caused problems here and our security folks keep track of them," they said.
Still, Rossman was in the fifth floor lobby of the apartment building just before Spierer disappeared when a witness said he was punched by a friend of Jesse Wolff’s. Wolff is Spierer’s boyfriend.
During a news conference Thursday, Bloomington Police maintained Lauren was not involved in that situation but they would not say whether she was near it.
"All of our information, including video and interviews, indicates Lauren was not involved in any altercation," said Lt. Bill Parker of the Bloomington Police Department.
But Parker wouldn't get specific when asked if that meant Lauren wasn't present during the altercation.
"I’m not saying that. I'm not saying anything else about it," said Parker.
When asked if they were looking into the altercation and whether it had anything to do with the whole situation, Parker responded, "of course, we're looking into everything we can."
Police did say the last video of Lauren shows her leaving Smallwood with a young man, going to his nearby apartment.
According to witnesses, Rossman is that young man.
"The videos do show her going towards the other apartment, but there's not video directly on that apartment, so that's the last video we have," explained Parker.
Rossman’s apartment at 5 North Townhomes is across the gravel parking lot from where a set of keys were found Friday morning.
Another resident of the 5 North Townhomes told Fox59 News he recognized photographs of Spierer from missing posters.
"I thought it was crazy because I had seen her over here," said Keith Turner. "I never seen her hanging out over here but I have seen her walk back and past."
Turner said Spierer would often visit the end of the building where Rossman and Rosenbaum lived in seperate apartments. Salzmann said Rossman believes Spierer left him in his apartment and went next door to visit Rosenbaum.
Another community business person, who spoke anonymously because he said many nearby college students are among his clientele, said that one of his employees found the lost set of keys several hours after Spierer was last spotted.
"She said she noticed a set of keys just laying on a railing with a purple little purse connected to the key fob that resembles the one at Smallwood," said the man as he pointed to a railing on a concrete landing leading to a security door of another apartment building across a gravel parking lot from 5 North Townhomes.
This witness echoed other people in the community who have told Fox59 News about the rampant drug use, drinking and partying that accompanies the student body that lives in the Smallwood Plaza area. They said they think drugs could be a contributing factor in Lauren's disappearance.
"IU's been known as a drinking town for as long as the campus has been here," he said, "so drinking and drugs and partying and staying up late and doing the college lifestyle what the world says to do.
"Definitely pharmaceuticals, I think. Definitely the rage is easy to get a hold of is pills so pill popping or snorting pills is one of the biggest crazes around here."
Lt. Bill Parker of BPD said his detectives had not determined if Spierer was intoxicated when she disappeared Friday morning. Porter said while polygraph exams have been given and search warrants conducted, he would not say that detectives have a suspect but that they do have several persons of interest. Porter said it is probable that foul play is involved in Spierer's disappearance.
"The difference between a person of interest and suspect, I have never been able to figure out what that is," Salzmann said.
It is unclear if Rossman is one of those persons of interest but he did voluntarily allow police to search his apartment and car. Police have also examined his cell phone and credit card records. Salzmann said his client is cooperating with authorities and wants the investigation wrapped up in a positive fashion.
Authorities have been talking to him and countless other people.
As for her boyfriend, Spierer’s closest friends said he has not be part of the search effort because he was told he couldn't be.
"He really had nothing to do with this. If anything, he was the first person to be concerned by the fact that he hadn’t heard from her," Spierer’s friend Sarah Gornish said.
Two of Spierier's friends said they first received a phone call from Wolff Friday asking if they had seen Lauren. They asked her roommate, Hadar Tamir, to open their apartment expecting to find Lauren. When their search proved fruitless they went to Bloomington Police and Wolff called Lauren's parents in suburban New York City.
Robert and Charlene Spierer arrived in Bloomington Saturday to lead the search. They have been a constant presence since, appearing at news conferences, conducting television interviews and offering a $100,000 reward for information about their daughter's disappearance.
Colts owner Jim Irsay has contributed a $10,000 reward as have the owners of Smallwood Plaza, John and Cara Jacobs, according to spokesman Ernie Reno.
Reno also told Fox59News that the apartment complex has a PDF spread sheet available to investigators of every key swipe identifying residents who entered the building that morning but BPD has not asked for the information.
Meanwhile, search crews have begun branching out to other parts of Monroe County. For the second day, dive teams were in Lake Monroe looking for clues in Lauren's disappearance.
Another press conference is scheduled for Friday morning.