TikTok users generate millions of views with Lauren Smith-Fields justice campaign
Police are still investigating the college student's death
TikTok users are bringing attention to the case of Lauren Smith-Fields, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her Bridgeport, Connecticut apartment last month.
Smith-Fields, 23, was found unresponsive in her apartment on Dec. 12 after she met an older white man on the dating app Bumble, theGrio reported. The man, identified as 37-year-old design engineer Matthew LaFountain, reportedly contacted police about Smith-Fields’ death and was not detained for questioning, Westchester News 12 reported.
The victim’s family has called out the police for being hostile and uncooperative amid the investigation into her death. The family is reportedly taking legal action against the Bridgeport police over the department’s mishandling of the case. Meanwhile, on TikTok, the hashtag #justiceforlaurensmithfields has received 4.2 million views thanks to users who are spreading awareness about the case.
“She died under mysterious circumstances,” said true crime and travel TikToker Haley Toumaian, who has 751,000 followers, in a video that has received 1 million views.
In another video that has been viewed 12 million times, TikToker Fiona Meehan called the lack of media coverage “enraging.”
The victim’s family and their attorney have pointed out the many flaws made by the police on the first day of the investigation. Fields said after she was allowed access to her daughter’s apartment, she noticed vital physical evidence that police failed to collect, such as a condom with semen inside and a pill that could be a sedative.
“The first night we saw cups there, flipped plates and the lube. The cops didn’t take any of the cups to test the liquor,” Lakeem Jetter, Lauren’s brother, told Rolling Stone. “There was a big stain of blood in the middle of her bed, with streaks going to the right side.”
“Without a doubt, we know that my daughter was not a drug user, and I had a second autopsy myself paid out of pocket because we felt so uncomfortable with the way it was handled,” said Everett Smith, Smith-Fields’ father.
The city’s medical examiner has not yet revealed the cause of Smith-Fields’ death. The family paid for an independent examination due to the Bridgeport Police Department’s handling of the investigation. LaFountain has not been named a suspect in relation to Smith-Fields’ death.
Many TikTokers have referenced “missing white woman syndrome,” a term to describe how people of color are not given the same attention as white women when they go missing. TikTokers are criticizing the lack of coverage on the Smith-Fields case by using the hashtag #justiceforlaurensmithfields.
“We haven’t had any answers since the day that we found out that she passed away,” Lauren’s mother, Shantell Fields, told Yahoo News. The family says the Bridgeport Police Department has told them to stop repeatedly calling to inquire about the status of the investigation.
“We have seen the amount of resources that have gone to other cases involving missing white women like Gabby Petito and we know so many Black women are missing so much in this country,” the family’s attorney Darnell Crosland told NBC Connecticut. “Everyone is speaking out, everyone is insulted with the way the Bridgeport police and the Bridgeport city has dealt with us.”
Jetter said an arrest wasn’t made because officers said that LaFountain, the man who was with his sister on the night she died, was “nice” and “didn’t need to be investigated.”
“When I asked the officer about the guy, he said he was a very nice guy and they weren’t looking into him anymore. It was almost like he was sticking up for him and it seemed weird to hear that from a detective,” Jetter told NBC Connecticut.
“He told me directly on the phone to stop calling him and hung up in my face, it was just like total disrespect, like that’s what you tell a family that’s going through grief and trying to find answers?”
@robandhaley More details about Lauren Smith-Fields. #laurensmithfields #justiceforlauren #justiceforlaurensmithfields #foryou #justiceneeded #ArbysDiabloDare ♬ original sound – Haley Toumaian
LaFountain reportedly told police that Smith-Fields asked him to pay for a $40 manicure and invited him over to her apartment, where they drank tequila. At some point, she vomited in the bathroom and later met her brother outside her apartment and retrieved something from him. After she returned, LaFountain claims Smith-Fields spent over ten minutes in the bathroom.
According to LaFountain, she ultimately fell asleep on the couch while watching the movie, so he brought her to her bed and fell asleep beside her. When he woke up the following morning, he saw she was bleeding from her nose and not breathing, so he called 9-1-1. LaFountain claims he did not have sex with Smith-Fields.
Police are still investigating her death.
“I feel like if people are loud about it, maybe something will happen,” TikToker Fiona Meehan told Insider. “Especially right now, while it’s fresh — put pressure on the police, because they aren’t saying anything about it and it’s very upsetting.”
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