BLOOMINGTON – The mother of a missing Indiana University student spoke out, Monday, about the City of Bloomington’s decision to remove large signs that plead for information about the case.
Charlene Spierer told Fox 59 she found out her daughter’s signs were being removed last Thursday, but not by the City. Lauren Spierer was last seen in the early morning hours of June 3, 2011, after a night of drinking with friends. Her remains have never been found.
City crews removed several of the billboard-style signs on Friday. Crews were originally set to take them down after graduation in May, but the City delayed the plan after firefighters decided to replace the signs with new ones.
In a statement released to Fox 59, Bloomington Communications Director Adam Wason said the signs did not violate any City ordinance and the move was in the works for some time:
“The decision to remove the signs around the community was an effort to balance many and varied community interests and input.
For the many people who have felt the signs should have been taken down long ago, it’s long overdue. For those who believe they should remain in place, no time was right to remove them.
The signs were initially put in place by volunteers two years ago.
Our initial intention was to remove them after IU graduation last May. But local firefighters then decided to renovate the volunteers’ signs in April, so a decision was made to wait another six months, which was last week.
No disrespect is intended nor does it reflect any loss of interest in the case. The community has been very engaged in the case and will remain so. Posters about the case remain up throughout the campus and community, including in city government buildings, and police agencies continue to actively investigate.”
That statement was not taken well by one of those Bloomington firefighters who helped with the upkeep of the signs.
“If they thought that six months ago…why didn’t they let us know?,” asked firefighter Lee Chapman. “I think they could’ve handled it differently, maybe had a sit down, and we could’ve just kind of eased into it. Why it had to be so abrupt?… I’m having a hard time dealing with that.”
Charlene Spierer also reflected on the City’s decision via an email to Fox 59:
“We found out through a friend, last Thursday evening, that Lauren’s signs were being taken down. We were told they were removed Friday at 6AM. Since the beginning, we have had permission from either the private property owner or from the City of Bloomington to place the signs.
We are grateful to the Bloomington Fire Department and the residents of Bloomington for their continued support and encouragement. Our one and only goal has been and continues to be, to obtain information which will help us find Lauren. To those who have found Lauren’s billboards offensive, we offer our sincere apologies.”
Chapman said work was already underway to replace the faded signs. Now all the signs and materials will be taken to a Parks and Rec. facility until a decision is made about what to do with them.