Grieving firefighter organizes effort to rebuild Lauren Spierer signs in Bloomington

Lee Chapman lost son, 22, in car accident

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - It's been nearly two years since Lauren Spierer vanished after a night out with friends. The then-20-year-old would have graduated from Indiana University this year.


While her parents are trying to keep the case public, there are no new developments.

Those billboards in Bloomington have faded like the publicity that once surrounded the case, until firefighter Lee Chapman got an idea after his 22-year-old son, Robert, was killed in a car accident.

"I made a promise to my son that I was going to do something special. What it was, I didn't know," Chapman said.

Out of his own tragic loss, Chapman was inspired to help other grieving parents.

Using mostly donated materials, Chapman and his fellow firefighters built 20 large wood-framed signs to replace Lauren's aging and weathered billboards around the city.

"They will go all over town," said Battalion Chief Steve Coover. "We'll put seven out in some distinct areas so that people coming into town for the Little 500 will see them, and then all 20 will be out before graduation, because she would have graduated this year."

Firefighters say that Lauren's parent, back home in New York, are grateful for the effort to keep Lauren's case alive, even though they admit to giving up hope that their daughter is alive.

"I've got closure. I know where my son is. You don't," Chapman said. "As hard as it is for me, I can't imagine what it's like for them."


Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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