Happy Scribe
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High crime junkies, I'm your host, Ashleigh Flowers, and I'm Bret and Bret, do you know what this weekend is this our 100th episode?

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It is our one hundredth episode. Yes. I mean, great.

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We've done a lot of feature and stuff, but this is our official one hundredth regular wide release crime junkie episode. Can you even believe that we're here? No, honestly, I get it at the same time.

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Feels like it was yesterday and a million years ago. Yeah. Like I've been doing this for my whole life.

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So when I was thinking about what case to do this week, I figured that to mark this momentous episode, we needed to cover a special case, a case that has been our number one most requested since we started almost two years ago, a case that's close to home and infamous among Hoosiers.

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This episode is about the disappearance of Lauren Spierer.

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If June 3rd, 2011, would have been just a little different in any number of ways, I think it's very likely we wouldn't be telling you this story today. I think Lauren Spierer would be a name only known to her friends and family. She probably would have graduated with a degree in fashion for Matthew, moved to a bigger city, maybe even back to New York to be close to family where she's from. And she would have gone on to be a creative, talented young woman who maybe got an apartment of her own in the city and then got engaged and married.

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Lauren would have been about 29 today and maybe even considering having kids. But that day on June 3rd happened just as it did in the exact order that it did, allowing for Lauren's fate to be interrupted and her family's futures to be irrevocably altered.

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That night really was like so many other nights that I'm sure Lauren and her friends had had before nights. I know I had when I was in college, the semester at Indiana University in Bloomington had just ended for the 20 year old New York native Lauren. She, like many of her college classmates and friends, were ready to just like let loose before rolling into summer break. Lauren's friend Jay, who she'd known since her days of summer camp and who also went to IU, had a friend staying over from out of town.

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So he had a handful of people over to hang out and pregame before going out to the bars. And just to put this in perspective, like how young all of these like actual kids are, they're pregaming before going out to the bars, started at twelve thirty. Oh, am I dead?

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I'm dead. I know the thirty year old in me hurts.

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Just saying that out loud. Like if something doesn't start my body aches. Yeah. Like if something doesn't start by seven p.m. now I just don't get it done. But I was fun once I get it. So around twelve thirty Lauren leaves her place at Smallwood Apartments accompanied by one of her friends named David, and together the two walked to Jay's house, which wasn't far at all.

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He lived in a townhome just a few streets away. Now Lauren had a long term boyfriend named Jesse, who had come to IU from New York with her, but he wasn't with her on this night. He was going to spend the night at his place staying in, watching basketball, and he knew Lauren was going to be going out with some friends. So I don't think they were in constant contact. But he did expect to hear from her at at least some point in the evening or early morning hours or at least the next day, but texts and calls in the morning and afternoon of June 3rd were going unanswered until Jesse finally hears back.

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But even though the response came from Lauren's phone, the reply didn't actually come from Lauren. It was from someone who worked at a bar called Kilroy's.

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Now, this is a local place that college kids know well and frequent often. And this person who responded to Jesse told him that he had found the phone in the bar and it must have been left by someone the night before. This is concerning to Jesse. And like any boyfriend probably would be, he wanted to make sure that Lauren was OK. So he contacts her roommate. Now, her roommate hasn't seen Lauren all night or that morning, but according to Indianapolis Monthly, she agrees to meet up with Jesse to give him a key to their shared apartment so that he can go see if she's home.

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Like his hope is, maybe she had a rough night. He's going to find her. They're sleeping at all. But when Jesse enters the apartment, he quickly finds that Lauren is nowhere to be found. Everything about this is wrong. No one knows where Lauren is and she doesn't have her phone. And Jesse, as well as Lauren's roommate, begin to fear the worst. So around four thirty pm Jesse reports Lauren as a missing person to the Bloomington Police Department.

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Once the police are notified, Lauren's friends realize that they have to tell her family at least one of them knew Lauren's sister's number. So they call her to let her know what's going on and ask her to please tell Lauren's parents. Now, right away, Robert and Charlene Speare know this isn't right. They try calling Jesse, but he's already at the police station and he can't really give them any more useful information than he's already told the police since he wasn't with her that night.

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So then they decided to try calling hospitals to see if maybe she was taken in somewhere the night before. But they have no luck, so they waste no time and book flights from their home in New York to Indiana so they can find their daughter in the first few days that her parents are there, police don't have much to tell them.

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They're working hard to try and piece together Lauren's last movements the night before using, you know, what evidence they can find, surveillance video and statements from the people who were with or who saw her. But it's all really messy. The people who were with her were extremely intoxicated. And it's hard to develop a really clear picture of what happened, whether that's because people don't remember or because they don't want to tell what they remember.

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So police start at the beginning tracking. Orrin's movements from the time that she left her Smallwood apartment, Lauren and her friend David left her apartment around twelve thirty in the morning and they get to J.s for his little like party, get together, pregame, whatever you want to call it. Police find video footage from early in the evening of Lauren walking in the hallway of her apartment complex. Now, it's never been expressly said what time this image was captured, but I say that it's likely early in the evening, maybe exactly right as she was leaving, because Lauren seems super coherent.

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She seems happy. She's carrying all of her possessions. And this image of Lauren, which I'm sure you've seen, but I'll send it to you anyways, is probably the most publicized picture of Lauren Spierer. Yeah, I'm very familiar with this picture. She looks so normal. She's wearing black leggings and it's like white fluffy top. And you can tell she's kind of like captured in motion while she's walking by, like just kind of running her fingers through her hair.

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It's like it's like anybody else where we were that age. Yeah. Going out, you know. Yeah.

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And I think what you hit on is that you can tell from the picture that Lauren was in motion. And that's because, like I said, this was actually video surveillance. And this is just a still image that the police decided to release. And here's what's kind of strange to this day. It is the only image that the police would release that Lauren is in. And I don't think they would have even released this if they didn't need something to give the people that were searching for her.

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Because in the first few days, people looking for Lauren got this picture and they got out quickly in large groups of students and Bloomington citizens.

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They were all mobilizing to search for Lauren, and they used this picture as their guide, looking in the streets and alleys, even in woods and rivers for those black pants and white blouse. Her parents were out every single day hoping that that was the day they were going to find their daughter.

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Was her boyfriend out there, too, like looking for her?

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Well, according to an interview Lauren's dad did with 20/20, Jesse helped look for her on Saturday and Sunday. But after that, his parents came to Bloomington and kind of retrieved him and took him home back to New York, which made Lauren's family kind of uncomfortable.

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Yeah, I mean, you said that they had been together for a long time, right?

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Yeah. Yeah, like that. Since, like, the high school at least. Right.

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Like, I kind of would have expected him to be like pretty invested in staying there and helping to look for her, like even if his parents had come there, like, wouldn't they have known Lauren and been like, worried about her.

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So I mean, I would think so. And I think this is why it kind of rubs a lot of people the wrong way. And I don't know what the reason was for him leaving or why it had to be right then. So we can't really speculate too much. But around this time, police were putting together more of the pieces around the night that she went missing and the events leading up to her disappearance. And this put a dark cloud over everyone that she was with that night.

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So police know that Lauren was leaving her place at 12, 30 and she was going to Jay's townhouse, they find out that there are at least two other people there and I'm not sure if they were the only other people there.

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But there are only two names that continue to come up in all the reporting that I see. And of those two, one of the guys is named Corey, and the other guy's name is Mike. Corey and Mike were roommates and lived in the same townhome complex as Jay, though to be clear, they didn't actually live in Jay's place. Their doors were about 30 feet apart or so from one another. OK, now, like I mentioned, Lauren had known Jay for many years.

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He was from back home in New York, just like Lauren, and they had gone to summer camp together along with her boyfriend, Jesse.

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But Corey and Mike were relatively new acquaintances to Lauren. According to Indianapolis Monthly, Lauren's parents said that she had actually just met Corey within the last week while they were attending the Indy 500 here in Indianapolis.

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So during this, like, pregame party, everyone's drinking.

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And according to court reports, Lauren was already visibly intoxicated while she was there. Now she's a petite girl, like under five feet, less than 100 pounds. So I can imagine that it wouldn't take a lot of alcohol for her to begin to feel the effects of it.

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But that night was still young. And if you've ever pregame, you know that staying in is not the end goal. So around 130 or so, Lauren leaves Jase to go out to the local bar.

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Now, none of the reports I read on this are consistent or incredibly clear on who left, but most of them make it seem like it wasn't the entire group who left, just Lauren and Corey. And I really get that sense from the court reports that I found. So if we go off of those, Corey told his roommate that he wanted to get a few more drinks and I'm really like let loose. He was going to feel good. And the two leave together and go to that local bar called Kilroy's.

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Now, again, Kilroy's is in a college town. Everything's within walking distance. So it's not like they were driving or had to take an Uber.

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They walked there and this was like the spot, at least at the time for students. I mean, she had to have had a fake I.D. to get in, right? I think so. Here's the thing. A couple of places online said that Kilroy's at the time was an 18 and over, and you just had to be 21 to buy drinks. But I talked to some of my friends who actually went to IU and graduated in 2011. So they would have been there around this time.

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And they remember the entire thing being 21 and over.

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So, again, no idea. I don't think that really matters in the grand scheme of things. What we do know is that she did get in and when she was in there, her and Corey kept the party going like he kept buying her drinks. And there's this Sandy spot out back where Lauren Lake kicks off her shoes and they down a couple of drinks pretty quickly before deciding to leave.

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I feel like that Lauren is really comfortable with Corey, having just met him, like in the past week or so. Right.

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You know, I kind of think it's totally normal. Like, I remember being twenty in college, even me, like Miss Paranoid Crime Junkie.

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I was overly trusting of new people, especially if I was intoxicated and especially if they knew someone.

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I did like something about them having a connection to people who you know and trust. Like.

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Right. Like the mutual connection. Like so and so thinks they're safe, then they're safe. Yeah. I mean, she met him through someone that she'd known for years. So she probably felt like if they knew him, he was a decent guy. And again, I cannot stress enough how much young people think nothing bad will ever happen to them. And it's why we talk about personal safety until we're blue in the face on this show. Just because you met someone once or they know the people that you know does not mean you know them.

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And it does not mean you shouldn't trust them with your safety. But it happens all the time.

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And sure, most of the time nothing bad happens, but it only takes that one time. So, yeah, she's intoxicated. She's comfortable with Corey. And after they've been at Kilroy's for about 30 minutes or so, Lauren leaves Kilroy's with Corey. Now, at this point it's about two thirty in the morning and to show you how intoxicated she was, this is the point where Lauren left her phone behind.

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Remember what someone else calls her boyfriend or text her boyfriend later that next day? Yeah, and along with her phone, she also left her shoes there. So barefoot and stumbling, Lauren walks with Corey back to her apartment. The two make it inside and take the elevator to the fifth floor where Lauren's apartment is located. And here is where I think things get really strange. The two get off on the fifth floor so close to Lauren's apartment. And there they run into a group of guys and there's some kind of altercation where Corey gets punched in the face.

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Wait, so he gets punched in the face with these guys, people that Corey or Lauren knew, or were they just strangers? So I've seen two reports from McCombe Daily and Heavy Dotcom that one of the guys in the group was someone who is familiar with Lauran, but the police have never publicly named anyone in this group or the man who, like, specifically punched chory.

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So I'm not 100 percent sure.

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Do we have any sort of video footage of this? I mean, we saw her leave her apartment.

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Oh, so I'm not saying that the police don't know. I'm almost positive that they have footage of it, but they've never released it to the public. They've never even shown it to the family. And again, they're not making any public statements about it. Only the police have seen it and only they know the details.

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So whatever transpired, for whatever reason, Lauren and Corey decide to leave her complex, aren't they, like, right outside her door?

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Why don't they just go in again? No one knows.

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And this is why I think this is like the part where this case gets super strange. And, you know, I talked to the beginning, like, if one thing would have gone differently, like if they would have just gone inside, would we be talking about this today?

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Right. I don't know why they were even going to Lauren's place in the first place. Clearly, they had some kind of reason for going get something about this altercation changes their course.

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So still barefoot, Lauren and Corey descend in the elevator and exit her apartment complex at 242 a.m. based on more surveillance footage that is discovered by police. They're able to determine that after leaving Lauren's apartment complex, the pair were headed back to Corey's townhome. But the exact order of events are a little fuzzy for me to put together. Like you'd think all these years later, we'd have a really solid idea of what happened. But because police have released so little, we're left to kind of piece everything together.

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And there are some contradictions. And here are kind of the contradictions I'm talking about. So in 2016, ABC reported that Lauren is captured on video falling twice. And from what we learn later in the story, these aren't like, oh, little angel giving away stumbles. These are like hard face first falls into the cement and her reactions are so delayed that she isn't even able to catch herself. Oh, my God. Now, eventually, when it becomes clear that Lauren isn't able to walk, according to ABC, chory like Fairman throws her over his shoulder and carries her the rest of the way to his place.

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Now, again, that's what ABC said in 2016. But back in May of 2012, just about a year out from Lauren's disappearance, Indianapolis Monthly says something completely different. They also referenced video footage, but they say that she's captured on video with someone. And then moments later, around 251 a.m., she's captured walking out of an alley that is close to her apartment. And then she walks into an empty lot that would have been close to Corey's townhome complex.

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I got to say, I remember both of these accounts coming out. And even as you're telling them to me, again, like I have no idea which one is real and which one isn't right.

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And, you know, again, as I've been following the story over years, I vividly remember hearing both. And the assumption I had was just that more information was coming out. But the more I dig into this, the more I'm finding that none of this has been confirmed by police. Somehow these are these stories that are kind of getting perpetuated. And from my understanding, no one's seen the video footage. So I don't know how either place is making that claim.

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I tend to believe the Indianapolis monthly thing back in 2012 because they had a statement from the police, like kind of saying none of that happened. It's very, very bizarre.

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Yeah. And basically because nothing has been officially confirmed, these both could be rumors. Right.

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So they yeah, they both could be rumors. They both could be a little bit true. Now, there was something I read in Indianapolis monthly that may kind of indicate where this like over the shoulder thing came from. So apparently there was a witness who came forward and said that around three thirty eight in the morning, they saw someone matching Lauren's description get tossed over a man's shoulder. Now, the timeline doesn't quite fit with what we're talking about. And there isn't video surveillance, again, that we've seen.

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So obviously this story can kind of get like told over and over again in many mainstream media outlets and taken as fact at some point. But again, Indianapolis Monthly said that police spokesman said there was no video to confirm this.

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So I don't know if something changed between 2012 and 2016 or something is being misreported. But again, these videos have never been released, so there's nothing that we can verify. OK, so if Corrib, like firemen, carried Lauren after she was falling, like if we're to believe this eyewitness.

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Right.

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It kind of sounds like he's at. Least a little more with it than she was like he at least knew what was going on, he was cognizant. Well, so here's the thing, maybe not because chory is about to fall out of the picture completely. Today's episode was made possible in part with better help, is there something interfering with your happiness or maybe something is preventing you from achieving our goals? Most days for me, the main thing preventing me from achieving my goals is my daughter's request for a third consecutive viewing of my pups.

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But let me tell you, there are bigger, scarier things that interfere with my happiness out here in the world, which is why I am so thankful to have better help. It's not a crisis line and it's not self-help. It is professional counseling done securely online, available for clients worldwide. Plus, they have a wide range of expertise that may not be available locally in many areas. You can log into your account to send a message to your counselor at any time and you'll get a timely and thoughtful response.

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Plus, you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions so you won't ever have to sit in an uncomfortable waiting room again, which is great, especially right now. Better help wants to help you start living. A happier life today is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches. So we make it easy and free to change counselors if needed visit better help dotcom slash crime junkie. That's better each LP and join over one million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional.

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In fact, so many people have been using better help that they are currently recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states. And there is a special offer just for some junkie listeners. Get 10 percent off your first month by visiting. Better help. Dotcom crime junkie. So however they got to Corey's place, whether she was carried or she walked, when they get there, Corey actually ends up throwing up on the concrete steps outside of his apartment.

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Maybe part of that is alcohol, but it also could be partly due to the blow that he received the face just moments before when they were at Lauren's apartment. Corey's roommate, Mike, is home at this point and he sees the two are like in bad shape. So Mike says that he puts Corey into bed and then tries to get Lauren to just, like, chill out. But she says she wants to keep going, keep drinking. She wants to, like, hang out.

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But Mike isn't having it. He doesn't really want to babysit drunk Lauren. I mean, again, he doesn't even really know this girl well. So he decides to take her over to Jay's house. Jay has known her for a long time. Maybe he can take care of her. So Mike escorts Lauren the 30 or so feet to Jay's door and passes Lauren off to him.

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And at first glance, she had to be a shocking sight. She has no shoes, no phone, no purse.

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And according to USA Today, she had bruises on her face, which were likely from the fall that she took earlier in the night. Jay takes her in and he has kind of a similar story that Mike does. Lauren wants to keep partying. She tries to get Jay to have a drink with her. But Jay says, listen, I don't want to. It's like past 4:00 o'clock in the morning at this point. So he tries to convince Lauren to just crash on his couch, sleep it off, but she won't relent.

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Now, at this point, she kind of realizes that she doesn't have her own phone anymore. So she asked Jay to use his and she makes a couple of calls at four fifteen in the morning, which all go unanswered.

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The exact exchange after those calls between Jay and Lauren may never be known to us in the public. And honestly, we don't even know how drunk Jay was or how well he even recalls those early morning hours of June 3rd.

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But whatever was said, whatever was decided, Lauren walked out of Jay's townhome at four thirty in the morning without shoes, without a phone, without any of her possessions that she started the night with and alone and drunk.

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Jay watches her go down the sidewalk and turn onto a street that should have led her back to her apartment. But Lauren never made it back. And over eight years later, she has never been seen again. Police and Lauren's family naturally had a lot of questions for those boys that she was with that night.

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But most of the boys came from families who were well-off and families that understood the importance of a lawyer early on in investigations.

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Yeah, I mean, always get a lawyer is obviously one of our life roles. But I'm sure this did not go over well with Lauren's family. Like all they're concerned about is finding her and they just want to talk to anybody who was with her or was last to talk to her.

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Right now, Jay's lawyer said that he's given statements to the police as well as consented to searches and polygraphs. And at one point, they say he even had a face to face with Lauren's parents. And Jessie, Lauren's boyfriend had the same face to face with them. But the guy who spent the most time with Warren that night, Corey, he hasn't been as forthcoming. And according to ABC, he's the only friend who won't cooperate. I mean, but do we need him, too, though?

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Like, I don't really hear anyone questioning Mike. And if we believe what Mike said, Corey puked and passed out while Lauren was still alive. That's true.

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But again, if you were in the parents shoes, I think they're just like, if that's what really happened, why can't we talk about it?

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Yeah, well, Corey's lawyer made a public statement in the early days of the investigation that he had almost no memory of the night due to that punch he took in the face. But years later, Corey contradicted that and was telling people like, I never said that.

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That's what my lawyer says, which to me implies that he does have some kind of memory that night, but just isn't willing to talk about it either because he doesn't want to share it or he doesn't like how he's been treated by the family or the public.

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So police and family obviously want to hear more from the three boys, but navigating the lawyers can be a slow process. In the meantime, police have to consider all possibilities.

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And one of those possibilities is that Lauren could have ran into someone else after she left Jay's place that morning, early on in the investigation, along with that still picture of Lauren walking in her apartment complex. One of the only other images released in this case was that of a white truck that police said was circling the area near where Lauren was last seen on June 3rd.

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Police were getting a lot of tips coming in about this truck, but one in particular stood out to them. A woman called in and said that her ex had just been released from prison shortly before Lauren went missing and he allegedly made threats. To her, stating that he was involved in whatever happened to Lauren and if she made trouble for him, what happened to Lauren could also happen to her when police look into this guy. It wasn't a bad lead because he lived just about 10 minutes away.

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And according to Life Daily dot com, he was driving a white truck at the time. But after some investigating police end up ruling him out and eventually ruled out the white truck altogether, saying that it likely has no involvement in Lauren's disappearance after almost two months of looking for Lauren. The search took a darker turn when police tell the family that they're going to be searching the landfill where all of the trash from Bloomington is emptied. Lauren's dad told ABC that that was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do to just stand by and watch them search for his little girl in piles of garbage.

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And I don't know what directed police's attention to the landfill, if it was a tip or just like the next place on their list. But after nine, 12 hour days, the Herald Times says that searching the 40 100 tons of trash turned up nothing. By 2012, Lauren's parents were finally admitting publicly something they never wanted to say out loud. They didn't think they were going to find Lauren alive. Her dad was quoted in USA Today saying, quote, It's very frustrating to be talking about the exact same things we were talking about in the first 30 days after her disappearance.

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And he wasn't exaggerating almost a year later. And they were no closer to finding Lauren or having any real leads. Oh, my God. And the family was pretty much kept on the outside of the investigation, almost as much as the public. They said that the police weren't sharing with them any parts of their investigation or their findings. And the family eventually got tired of wondering what was going on. So they decided to hire their own private investigators from New York to look into Lauren's case.

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The private investigator looked at every avenue but kept coming back to the same conclusion the family had. The people who were with Lauren must know more than they're saying, but they aren't talking. And without Lauren, there's no physical evidence of anything having happened. OK, but like, what's the theory then? Like what would any of their motives have been?

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So to be clear, any time I read about a theory involving the guys that she was with that night, it's not that they murdered her. The theory most have and a theory that has been totally unsubstantiated is that there was some kind of accident that night. Maybe Lauren hit her head too hard when she fell. Maybe she overdosed or maybe there was some kind of other accident. You see, we know for sure that Lauren was drinking that night, but there are allegations of other types of drug use when police search Lauren's room after she disappeared.

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They found a small amount of cocaine in her room. And people say that she used other kinds of drugs the night that she went missing as well. And I think people get really caught up in her alleged drug use. And while I think it's important to the story and to finding her, I want to make a clear distinction that whether or not she used drugs doesn't define how worthy or unworthy she is to be found. And for a long time, it was used as like an attack on her character.

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But she was young and in a place where this kind of experimenting, no matter how ill advised, was kind of commonplace. The reason I think it's important, though, to mention the possible drug use is because of the accusations that she was mixing multiple kinds of drugs with alcohol that very night. More than that, though, it's known that Lauren had something called Long Kutty syndrome, which is a rare heart condition that made it even more dangerous for her to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

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And I talked to a nurse at Mayo Clinic who spent most of her career in the E.R. and now works in the cardiac cath lab. And, you know, I asked her first if just like mixing the different kinds of drugs that I've heard about in this case could cause an overdose. And she says absolutely. And then when I asked her if Long Kutty syndrome could compound these effects and the greater the chances of someone dying, she says yes, like it absolutely could.

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So what many people wonder is if Lauren had too much to drink or tried some kind of drug and because of what she mixed or that in combination with her heart condition, could have killed her.

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And if so, who was she with when it happened? And where is she now? Yeah, right. Because, like, if she did die accidentally, she should have been found, you would think. Right, right. And even more than that, like you would hope that if something happened to her while she was around other people, they would have called for help. Right. And I think it's this theory that keeps bringing the family and their P.I. back to those people that she was with that night.

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And it was feeling more and more like us versus them to the. Buro family, like the Spirit family. I mean, really, everyone else, the people she was with the police because they knew they wanted answers from the guy she was with, but they didn't believe that she had abused drugs. And that was the problem. They were saying like, no, she didn't. How dare you say any of that?

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And they felt like these accusations were just kind of like everyone deflecting and that feeling that no one wanted to help them and that everyone was kind of bashing. Lauren only intensified in 2013 when the family of Lauren's boyfriend made a shocking statement. In 2013, Jessie's family was tired of the Spirit family talking about their son, now, they weren't accusing him of anything, but they wanted Jessie to take a polygraph and to talk to them just like all the other people in this case.

[00:32:20]

But his parents told USA Today that they didn't trust police in Bloomington and Lauren's parents were liars. They said that Lauren wasn't missing because someone had done something bad to her. She was missing because of her, quote, drug abuse. We want these are her boyfriend's parents and they've been together for ages. Yeah, it felt really aggressive and nasty at the time. And to tell you the truth, it doesn't really feel much better when I read it all these years later.

[00:32:48]

Yeah. And I mean, not only is it nasty, but it doesn't make any sense if we're going to go with a theory that something happened to Lauren as a result of drug use. I mean, to go back to what you said earlier, we should have found her. You can't. Yeah, you can't like O.D. and then Heidrun body. No, you can't. Clearly, someone somewhere had a hand in what happened to Lauren. So to put the blame totally on her feels incredibly irresponsible and unusually cruel.

[00:33:21]

Yeah.

[00:33:21]

So there was a lot of back and forth with the families around this time. The Spierer said that Lauren didn't abuse drugs. Jesse's family said that Lauren had been like kicked out of summer camp for bringing drugs in newspapers, talked about a prior arrest she had before going missing for underage drinking at IU. And it became kind of this character attack on a girl who wasn't around to defend or explain her choices. So, again, I don't want to make this about that.

[00:33:47]

I think every one of us has made dumb choices. I'll be the first to admit that when I was in my early 20s, I had nights where I drank too much, stayed out too late and thought I was invincible. Lauren didn't go missing because of that. I cannot reiterate that enough, whether accident or foul play someone took her from her family. As years past, there have been tips that have come in, some more publicized than others, like in 2016, when the FBI raided a house about 30 minutes away from Bloomington.

[00:34:23]

The raid was said to have been in connection with Lauren's case, and those cadaver dogs were brought in and dirt was sifted and a white truck was even towed away.

[00:34:32]

Nothing seemed to come from this whole frenzy. So then this other time, a man in prison once came forward and said that his cellmate told him Lauren OD'd and that the guy she was with dumped her body in the Ohio River. But no credible trace of Lauren was found. And there wasn't more or enough information to prove that that's actually what happened. But that theory and that tip continued to fuel Lauren's parents. And eventually, when the police wouldn't file any criminal charges, the Spears filed civil suits against some of the men, claiming that they had an obligation to care for her that night.

[00:35:08]

Now, had the case gone forward, we might have access to a lot more evidence. And the family's attorney would have been able to, like, have subpoena power over cell phone records and other pertinent information in this case.

[00:35:22]

But a judge threw out the cases, basically saying it would set a bad legal precedent, like, yes, the boys were with her. We know that they were with her when she was clearly impaired. But that didn't mean that it was their responsibility for making sure she stayed alive.

[00:35:38]

I mean, but isn't it so no, not legally. The judge said that she feared if she let this go forward, it would ward off future good Samaritans like, say you saw someone stumbling and inebriated and you just like try to help them to where they're going so they don't fall or fall into the street. Are you then responsible for them the rest of the night or into the morning? Like how long? Where does it end? It's kind of like this tricky ruling, but like I said, it got thrown out in the end.

[00:36:05]

So it never went anywhere. We never got any more information.

[00:36:09]

OK, so I know the odds are super unlikely that Lauren got picked up by a stranger in that, like, very, very short walk between Jay's place and hers. But it's got to be considered a possibility, right? Oh, it's definitely considered a possibility. And there are a lot of people who believe this theory more than anything else. And there's actually a familiar name that comes up when people talk about this theory whose is real keys.

[00:36:39]

Now, it wasn't a theory I knew a ton about until we did our episode on Keys back in the day.

[00:36:46]

ABC made this basically like Excel spreadsheet of all of his known travel.

[00:36:52]

And when we did our episode on Keys, we posted it on our website and I actually got flooded with emails and messages from people after that Israel Keys episode, because obviously our listeners are well versed in Lauren's case and they were all. All like, WTF, please tell me you saw his travel back in 2011. Wait, was he in Indiana? Not only was he in Indiana in 2011, he was in Indiana on the day Lauren went missing.

[00:37:25]

Now, all I can tell from this spreadsheet that we have is that on June 3rd, there were multiple transactions on the Indiana Toll Road. Now it might mean nothing. He flew to Illinois and rented a car on the second, then had a clear path making his way to Vermont, where we know he was on the 8th. But is it possible that he drove through a college town on his way, like there's really not much information to account for his time between the third and the eighth?

[00:37:55]

And even the stuff that we have on the third, like it shows that he was like passed through multiple tollbooths in Indiana, which we know is northern Indiana.

[00:38:03]

But I don't know what time that was like. Is he up there? You know, the early morning hours, the same time that Lauren is down in Bloomington going missing, or is he there on the 3rd, like in the evening when you would have had plenty of time to go to Bloomington and then drive back up to northern Indiana? So it's totally possible and plausible. But just as scary to me, or maybe even more so, is the idea of another Israel Keyes that is still unknown to us.

[00:38:31]

Like we've talked about this before, he can't be the only one. There's another stranger to Lauren whose name gets brought up a lot in this case, and that's Daniel Messel. In twenty eighteen, Messel pled guilty to the murder of another young IU student named Hannah Wilson. Like Lauren, she had gone missing after a night out with friends under some very bizarre circumstances. However, her body was found the next day and evidence at the scene led investigators right to her killer.

[00:39:00]

Yeah, I remember when this happened and it immediately got connected to Lauren's case. I think that's an understatement.

[00:39:06]

Like, every time I've heard about this case, people bring up Hannah and listen. Yes, the similarities are striking. Messel had a history of harassing and assaulting women around 2012. It could have started well before in 2011. And if you ask the prosecutor who got Massell convicted, he says that he's convinced he had something to do with Lauren's disappearance, too. But he's never worked on Lauren's case. The people who have worked on her case aren't making that connection, or at least not publicly.

[00:39:36]

Whenever I hear from Bloomington PD who had Lauren's case or the state PD who had Hannah's case, they all say, no, no connection here. Like I get they look the same, but we're not calling it. Now, I'll tell you something I found that feels like a fluke. It feels like a one off. I had not heard this until I really started digging into the research of this case.

[00:40:00]

But I think it fits into the idea that possibly something happened to Lauren after she left Jase when she was alone or not. Again, I'll let you decide.

[00:40:11]

So when I was going through the timeline that Indianapolis Monthly had posted so many years ago, there is this report that at four thirty five in the morning, a homeless man had heard a woman scream and it was in the area where Lauren was last seen.

[00:40:30]

So what Indianapolis Monthly seemed to like say about this scream was that according to what they found and what was reported in the Herald Times, it was speculated that the man who heard the scream was a well-known homeless man in Bloomington named Franklin Road dog Crawford. Now, from everything I can find, I can't tell if this guy was really looked into. I can't tell if this scream was ever substantiated. But The Indianapolis Monthly may know of something really interesting. They said that Franklin dog Crawford died just a few days after Lauren disappeared, which I found super interesting.

[00:41:12]

Yeah. And, you know, I get I know he was kind of transient. Like he he stayed in Bloomington. But as far as we know, he was homeless like. So I didn't know maybe his health wasn't good. Maybe he died of natural causes or some kind of health related issue.

[00:41:24]

So I tried to, like, dig and dig and find out what he had died from just a couple of days later. And I couldn't find an obituary. But what I did find was really interesting. So there is this place called Crawford Apartments, which is open in Bloomington, Indiana, and it looks like subsidized housing, essentially.

[00:41:47]

And it was actually named after this man, Frank Crawford. And there's one blurb as they talk about how it was named after him. And it would have been this place that, you know, he would have been perfectly eligible for. It would have been for him.

[00:42:01]

And here's a quote from their page. It says, quote, Frank suffered. From many ailments and would have been an ideal tenet for this apartment complex, it was only discovered that Frank had passed away when a neighbor found his body in a dumpster. He had literally been thrown away, end quote.

[00:42:21]

So he wasn't just like found on like a sidewalk or the street corner passed away. He was in a dumpster.

[00:42:29]

He was in a dumpster, which, again, I don't know the cause of death, but it doesn't feel like somewhere most people would go. Maybe he did. I don't know. It's just super weird to me that this guy who may have been a witness to something goes missing a couple of days later and is found in a dumpster. He could be a red herring, could be a total red herring. But it's I thought it was something worth mentioning because I found it so interesting when I was researching the case.

[00:42:55]

OK, so the police aren't connecting Lauren's case to Hannah's. They're saying that the boys are for sure involved. I mean, where do we go from here? We don't know. The police aren't saying anything.

[00:43:08]

Like I said, they're really tight lipped about the whole thing, even with the family not sharing anything that they have.

[00:43:15]

I guess I just think it's super weird and suspicious. I guess that they haven't released any of the other video footage, especially if they have it.

[00:43:24]

You know, I kind of do, too. And like when ABC did their reporting, they interviewed other law enforcement officers who were like, yeah, we release as much as we can to basically, like, try and jog anyone's memory and just give the public as much to work with as possible. Right. But do you know what this reminds me of? It kind of reminds me of the more Americans remember there was that ATM footage that for years the police wouldn't release and everyone went nuts speculating like what was on the tapes.

[00:43:51]

What was on the tapes. Yeah. Then they finally got released and there was nothing that was useful or like nothing that even changed the narrative at all.

[00:44:00]

And that could very well be the case here. But we may never know. OK, so do you have a theory?

[00:44:09]

I mean, we don't really like usually give our opinions on the show like what we think happened, but honestly, I don't even know that I have one. I'm not convinced enough of any one of these theories to say that I know what happened for sure. But what I will say is that as someone who is local to the area, I've been hearing rumors for years.

[00:44:29]

And there's one specific rumor that I hear over and over and over again from people who went to IU or knew people that did. And I talked to a couple of them before writing this episode, and they were willing to tell me the story again, but they all wanted to remain anonymous. And listen again, I cannot stress this enough. This is a local rumor. Nothing has been substantiated and a story that's probably gotten passed from student to student over eight years.

[00:44:57]

OK, so what is it? The story that's told is that there was some kind of accident that night. No one says exactly who she was with when it happened, where it happened. But something happened and Lauren died in a panic. Whoever she was with at the time, whether she knew them or not, decided to get rid of her. And they put her body somewhere in the construction site of a new complex being built in Bloomington called Station Eleven.

[00:45:27]

And I looked up this station eleven when I had these talks with them, you know, right before the show.

[00:45:33]

And it does say that it was built in 2011, but it doesn't say when or like what parts of the building were done went. So I don't know if what people are alleging is even physically possible or if just the fact that there was construction is what started all of these rumors. But I'll tell you why I can't get it out of my head. Do you remember the terror grand staircase? Of course I do. So the podcast up and banners covered it extensively in their first season.

[00:45:58]

And there were lots of rumors around town in that case about what happened to Tara, the same story about the same thing popping up over and over and over again.

[00:46:08]

And it was like common knowledge in the town, but it was never really acted on.

[00:46:13]

Right, because everyone just assumed that it was rumors. Like surely police had looked into it like if we know it, surely police have to know it. Like people have to just be talking.

[00:46:22]

But sure enough, over a decade later, it turned out that the whispers among the locals held a bit of truth in them. And I wonder if there is some truth to our local whispers. If you read about this case, you'll see all the theories online.

[00:46:37]

But her family keeps coming back to the same resolve. They want more information from the people who were with her that night, and they believe that those people should have taken better care of her.

[00:46:48]

You know, no matter what happened to Lauren, I think there's an important message of personal safety in her story. Her mom said that in the early days after Lauren went missing, her and her husband drove around the area. Lauren was last seen in the wee hours of the morning to get a sense of what it was like that night that the. Sean vanished and she said that right there, walking the streets, she saw a young girl drunk, alone, barefoot, just like Lauren had been right after Lauren had gone missing.

[00:47:20]

And I mean, everyone knew about it. We all think that this won't happen to us, but we have to be aware of our surroundings. Lauren didn't cause this on herself. Someone evil is responsible for taking her from her family. But I think there are steps and measures we can all take to not give someone evil the opportunity. And there's actually this wonderful organization called Rachel's First Week. It was founded by Dr. Anji Figure, whose daughter Rachel died after attending a college party, her very first week of school at the very same university Lauren attended.

[00:47:58]

Basically after a party, Rachel had fallen down some stairs like knocked her head. And at first, like no one thought anything was wrong with her. They kind of just laid her down. And it wasn't until the next morning that they realized something was really wrong and EMTs were called. She's taken to the hospital, but she later passed away in the ICU. So her mom found it and uses this organization to reach high school seniors and those entering college in order to, quote, develop the Decision-Making skills of teens as they enter this time of monumental change in their lives are F.W. is a multifaceted program dedicated to protecting the vulnerable lives of teens as they transition into adulthood.

[00:48:40]

Rachel's first week challenges young men and women to think about the choices they make and always look out for each other, even strangers. And I think this is such an important organization and one that we've contributed to financially. And I encourage anyone who's entering their young adult years to check out the site or if you know somebody or if you have a child or a friend or I mean any one of this could apply to. This is such an important message.

[00:49:06]

We said it a thousand times. You hear these stories and assume it will never happen to you. But Lauren is a real girl, a sweet girl with a sister and parents and friends. She had plans for her future, but now her parents don't get to see what that future could have been. Instead, they have only their memories of Lauren, and that is what they continue to try and keep alive.

[00:49:40]

For more information on that organization, you can go to Rachels first week dog, we're putting a link to that on our website, along with all of our sources from this episode. That's Crime Junkie podcast Dotcom. And be sure to follow us on Instagram at Crime Junkie podcast. And if you've heard a lot of true crime stories this week, I need a little pick me up. Stay tuned for a profit of the month story. Crime junkie is an audio production.

[00:50:32]

So what do you think, Chuck, do you approve?

[00:50:43]

OK, so today I want to tell you about a sweet little puppet named Lily and our listener Mercedes's submitted a lovely story because it was very, very entwined with her own story. So Mercedes's was in a very dark time in her life, but had been looking to adopt a dog, to enhance her life, to give her a companion. And, you know, that constant friend that only a dog can be. Yeah, the unconditional love. I get it.

[00:51:10]

Exactly. But as she was looking for dogs to adopt, there just was never one that she really felt like she was connecting with. And when she was at one of the lowest points in her life, where she really felt like she could not go on living, her little sister was driving down a highway in the middle of a cold Utah winter and almost hit her little puppy, you know, was running down the road. Luckily, Mercedes sister had some beef jerky and a leash with her, which of course, I know.

[00:51:46]

I feel like I need to make this, like, puppy catching get for my car. Right. Like I really have.

[00:51:51]

Like, should I be keeping beef jerky and a leash in my car? Versatile times.

[00:51:55]

Yes. Yeah. And and her sister was able to get the scared little puppy off the road and into her car. And here is one of the saddest things I've ever heard. Oh, no. This little pup had a collar and a tag on. Oh, do you want to know what the tag said? No. Do I? Can I send you a picture of the tag? Oh, my God, yes. Oh. Oh, my God, it says on the front.

[00:52:22]

My name is Lily, if you found me, please keep me. And on the back it says, my fam can't and I need love. OK, you mine all the tears. So heartbreaking.

[00:52:37]

It really, truly is. And so Mercedes sister brings the puppy back to their dad's house and Mercedes met the pup the next morning and she said the second she met Lily, she knew that it was her dog and the universe or some higher power. Whatever you believe in, sent this little pup into her life to tell her that life was worth living.

[00:53:02]

I could I could weep happy tears. I never get to weep. Happy tears on paper of the month. This is beautiful.

[00:53:09]

So Lily, the pup initially had like a ton of separation anxiety, which like, oh, I would too, if I was left on the side of the road with a tag like that. And she had a lot of fear. But Martinez says if you knew her, then you wouldn't even recognize her. Now she's super confident and bossy and that she is way too smart for her own good. And I haven't mentioned it yet, but she's a husky border collie, German shorthaired pointer.

[00:53:41]

So she 100 percent is the smartest girl on the block.

[00:53:45]

Yeah, I do not doubt it. Yeah. And she's now a helper hound for a local trainer, and she helps trainers assess other dogs with temperament issues and helps dogs who aren't super comfortable being around other dogs to adjust to kind of being a dog. And she no longer has any separation anxiety or major fears.

[00:54:06]

And she even trained her little brother, who is a full grown German shepherd, outweighs her by fifty pounds, and she's taught him all of the House rules. And Mercedes says that Lily is an incredible dog who has trained her as much as she has trained. Lily and Lily even rolls over in the middle of the night and does a soft shoe, which I can only imagine. This would break my heart, baby. Oops, I love them. I know.

[00:54:34]

And that's because she needs some tummy pats and she is the strangest dog Mercedes has ever met. But she wouldn't trade Lily for the world and Mercedes generally believes that Lily saved her life.

[00:54:49]

Oh my God, my heart is so full we need it. We needed an uplifting part of the story. We need to be. Yeah, we need a bad. I love that story. I am so happy that Lily and Mercedes found each other and they can live happily ever after. Yeah.

[00:55:03]

And since Lily was found wandering around in Utah, I wanted to highlight a dog that was available to adopt from a Utah shelter. And that's when I found Dark Knight. So Dark Knight is a five year old shepherd mix available at Rescue Rovers. He is currently at a foster family who says he's still learning how to be a dog, much like well struggled with him. And they also think that he is part Australian kelpie. And Ashley, do you know anything about kelpies?

[00:55:30]

I don't know a ton about that breed.

[00:55:32]

So they have a pretty long lifespan. That's one of the oldest recorded dogs in history that lived to be over thirty years old, was a kelpie. So you guys were selling point for me up. I mean, like Charlie's obviously going to break that record and that's sad for that dog. But like, yes, that is exactly what I need to know when I'm finding my next, like, forever friend. Exactly.

[00:55:57]

Like I'm almost in a car to Utah right now. Yeah, dark night is about seventy pounds.

[00:56:03]

And he loves toys and xylophones and even already knows a few commands like Sit and Down and Place. And his absolute favorite, which is SHAC. He's gaining a ton of confidence through continued training and doggy day camp and is becoming an absolute pro on the leash, which is way more than what I can say for my dogs. Yeah, but he loves to cuddle on the couch with his humans. There will be an amazing addition to any family. So we're going to have pictures of Lily and of Dark Knight, as well as information on rescue rovers and how you can learn more about Dark Night and maybe adopt him on our website cringingly podcast, Dotcom.