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Bloomington firefighters (from left) Lee Chapman, Capt. Nick Teeters, Sgt. Aaron Butcher and Brent Stanton pose with a new billboard bearing image of missing Indiana college student Laurer Spierer. / Bloomington Fire Department

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Lee Chapman lost his son on Oct. 7, 2012.

The day of his son's burial, he promised him one thing: He would do something in his son's honor.

The idea came about a month ago, as Chapman passed by one of many billboards in Bloomington seeking information on the disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer. The signs have faded since Spierer went missing in June 2011.

"I could barely read it," the 27-year veteran of the Bloomington Fire Department said. "They needed to be replaced or removed."

That's when he decided to take on a project to build 20 new billboards that would be displayed around town.

He said his son Rob would have liked that. The former volunteer firefighter was 22 when he died in a car accident.

"I know my son is smiling down," said Chapman, who drives firetrucks for the department.

Chapman said he contacted Robert and Charlene Spierer about the idea, and both parents were thankful for it. Spierer is from Edgemont, N.Y.

For the past two years, Bloomington police have received more than 1,000 tips about what might have happened to Spierer on the morning of June 3, 2011. They had gone through long hours of video footage and reached out to other law enforcement agencies about reports of missing persons.

Several bodies have been found, but none was Spierer's. The most recent discovery was in Brown County, east of Bloomington. Mushroom hunters found human remains last week in a wooded area southwest of Nashville.

Brown County Coroner Robert Ayers later said it remains uncertain whether the remains are those of a man or a woman. Answers could be available by next week.

Meanwhile, Bloomington residents and passers-by are once again reminded of a local case that drew the national spotlight.

Chapman and four others at Fire Station 2 spent about three days building the signs. Thursday, seven new signs were on display in high-traffic areas, he said, and 13 others will be put up soon.

Most of the materials were donated by local businesses. The remaining cost was taken from the local firefighters union's general fund. And the labor was free.

Chapman said he doesn't mind that. He said he wanted to do it for Spierer's parents.

"I had closure. I know what happened to my son. I know where he's at," he said. "The Spierers don't have that. They still hope that their daughter is alive. Everybody does."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Firefighter lends hand in missing Ind. coed search

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