BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The high-profile search for a missing Indiana University student raised painful memories for a local family whose own experience with a missing daughter draws a sharp contrast that investigators say illustrates the differences social status can make in such cases.
Crystal Grubb was found dead Oct. 1, 2010. Like Lauren Spierer, the Indiana University student who has been the subject of an intense search since she disappeared June 3, Grubb was out with friends before she went missing. On Saturday, more than 400 searchers convened in Bloomington again for a "Find Lauren Day."
Search coordinator John Summerlot said volunteers traveled from as far as Illinois and Kentucky to join the search, which covered a wider area than previous ones. An Indiana National Guard Reserve search and rescue team also took part.
In Grubb's case, there were no public searches or offers of searches on horseback or in airplanes. Her disappearance was featured on the "Nancy Grace Show" and mentioned late in a few television newscasts, but there were no daily, televised news conferences as in the Spierer case.
Monroe County Sheriff's Detective Brad Swain, lead investigator in Grubb's murder, said the two cases are separated by the young women's socio-economic status. Grubb's family lives in a home with subsidized rent and used her father's Social Security disability income to buy her gravestone. Spierer, a fashion merchandising major, is from an affluent family in the New York City area, where her father is an accountant.
"Four blocks of geography between them, but two different worlds," Swain said.
He said that doesn't mean police have given up on finding Grubb's killer.
"I am just as dedicated to resolving this case as BPD is to finding out what happened to Lauren Spierer. A local person like Crystal has every right to the same dedication as an IU student," he said.
Bloomington police Capt. Joe Qualters told The Herald-Times there are other differences between the two cases, noting that Grubb, a mother of two children, was homeless and had a "somewhat transient" lifestyle.
"Lauren had somewhere she was expected to be, and Crystal, unfortunately, did not," he said.
He said police searched the areas where they thought Grubb had last been seen. In Spierer's case, her family and friends started the wide searches, which grew with publicity, he said.
Rene Grubb said Spierer's disappearance brought back the feelings of despair she had nine months ago when her daughter went missing. She has volunteered with the Spierer search even as she waits for her daughter's killer to be found and brought to justice.
"This is the hardest thing a person can go through," Grubb said. "I don't care if you're rich or poor or what. People need to come together and help each other."